Streetsboro time capsule contained mementos of the dead and lots of mud

Streetsboro Mayor Robert French and Sesquicentennial committee chairman Fred Waage were on hand during the burial of the time capsule on Oct. 8, 1972. Submitted photo

Streetsboro unearthed its Sesquicentennial Time Capsule buried 50 years ago at city park, revealing the detritus of old businesses, a set of cufflinks and much more that was damaged by time and a leak in the container.

The time capsule was buried on Oct. 8, 1972, on the northwest corner of Public Square during Streetsboro’s 150th birthday. It was unearthed on Aug. 4 as part of the city’s Bicentennial celebration and was then placed on display during the Bicentennial Birthday Bash weekend.

City officials began examining the items this week.

“It was exciting trying to find out what was inside of the time capsule,” said Sal Ruffo, who is president of the Streetsboro Heritage Foundation and was also on the Bicentennial committee. “It was exciting being on the stage, bringing the capsule up to the stage and having the community show up to take part in witnessing some of our history. Having the mayor and city council up on stage was exciting.”

“It kind of reminded me of when Geraldo [Rivera] opened [Al] Capone’s vault,” Mayor Glenn Broska quipped.

Some of the items that have been found in the capsule so far include a Streetsboro Jaycees blue seat cushion; pens from the Sparkle Market that was located in the Streetsboro Plaza and Campbell’s Florists that used to be in the square; a business card from Dorsey’s Humble Service Station that was on state Route 43; a small paper weight from the Streetsboro Dandelions, likely a girls group; and balloons, ribbons, a metal keychain, a pink bonnet dress and cufflinks that say “Gateway to Progress” from the Sesquicentennial celebration.

Mary Waage, the wife of the late Sesquicentennial committee president Fred Waage who now lives in Tennessee, watched the time capsule opening online, as did many people who could not be there.

“I got chills watching them open the capsule because I knew it was important to my husband,” she said.

Locating the time capsule actually took place more than a year ago in June 2021. It was a difficult process.

“We had sonar equipment and everything. We tore up the Square pretty good,” recalled Mike Kuhstos, treasurer of the Heritage Foundation. “City officials back in ’72 had drawn up a map, almost like a hand drawn treasure X marks the spot kind of thing. They measured off of the Square 160 feet to the time capsule, and that’s pretty much all we had to go on. We also had a picture of then-Mayor Robert French and Fred with the capsule just before it was buried.

“After about four-and-a-half hours of digging, the other men were ready to just give up. They said, ‘Mike, when do we call it a day?’ I really just pushed all of those guys, and I felt this in my heart of hearts that we’re the generation that is supposed to dig that out and do our part. Fifty years ago they did that for us, and we’ve got to follow through with it. I wasn’t about to give up. I felt we had to do the right thing and do our part. After another hour, we finally located the capsule.”

The time capsule is about three-and-a-half feet long by a foot-and-a-half wide and was buried four-and-a-half feet deep in the ground. Opening it took some doing.

“We got it on its side,” Kuhstos said. “The mayor then started with a grinding wheel. We had a hammer, too. We finally got the cap off and opened it.”

Kuhstos and his cohorts were worried the capsule might be filled with mud — and that’s exactly what happened. Not only was the capsule filled with what was inserted in it 50 years ago, it was also filled with sludge and water that seeped inside.

“It looked pretty damaged in there,” Kuhstos said.

The technology in those days wasn’t great. Anything made of paper was damaged over the decades.

“If they weren’t sealed in some kind of plastic, [they] were really hard to see,” said Joe Lindsey, who was on the stage along with his 90-year-old father Charles Lindsey. Charles, Streetsboro City Council president in 1972, was present at the burial of the capsule. He, along with a handful of others who were at the burial, gave speeches.

“Naturally, we were a little disappointed at the significant amount of water damage to the inside of the capsule,” Broska said. “There were some things that are going to be salvageable, and we will look through them, and whatever we have, we will be able to display. We have to let the stuff dry out, and we’ll go from there.”

Before the time capsule was buried, Fred Waage wrote a handwritten list of things buried inside. Here’s what could be deciphered from his note: 

  • Sesquicentennial proclamation
  • city charter
  • letter from Ohio Governor John Gilligan
  • Sesquicentennial Committee minutes
  • 1972 high school yearbook
  • church bulletins (all churches)
  • rosters and activities from all schools
  • city map
  • library building permit
  • Sesquicentennial edition of the Record-Courier
  • Welcome Wagon Greetings to a Baby
  • Sparkle Market and A&P food prices
  • Streetsboro businesses’ cards and pens
  • 1972 Sears catalog
  • Bell and Western Reserve telephone books
  • GM, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota cars’ highest and lowest prices
  • roster of city employees and government officials
  • scroll containing signatures of all girls in scouting in Streetsboro
  • pictures of city officials, employees, Dandelions, Sesquicentennial Committee, Garden Club, co-op workers and Santa Claus
  • rosters and items from clubs in Streetsboro such as Lions and Dandelions
  • paper weight
  • other Sesquicentennial commemorative items such as coins, necklace, membership card button and bumper sticker
  • Sesquicentennial vest and tie

“Someone from the crowd kept shouting out that they remember their relative putting a piece of a birthday cake in a bag in the capsule,” Kuhstos said. “But we didn’t see anything like that.”

The following is a letter written exactly how it was written by the late Ruth Hurd, who was a city clerk in 1972 and was involved with the Sesquicentennial celebration. The original letter was in the time capsule:

October 07, 1972

Streetsboro, Ohio

Greetings to the Citizens of the City of Streetsboro 2022.

This letter was written to commemorate the burial of the time capsule, the final fete of our Sesquicentennial celebration.

If you read the minutes of our business meetings, you will see what we did, how we did it, and the cost to us.

Our celebrations did not come up to our expectations due to what we felt was a lack of enthusiasm of the residents of the city.

Perhaps this type of celebration is passe.

A bad storm on Friday the 15th (likely September) really put a damper on the festivity. Much time was spent in chasing the items that you will find here today.

We are sure the pictures will be hilarious as some of them were to us.

This was an era of longer hair and side burns for guys and long straight hair for girls.

The young adults are leaning also in this direction.

Perhaps this will be a lasting style into your generation not just a fad in ours.

There no longer is a strict dress code. Anything can be worn any place and be acceptable.

These were years of true self expression in all phases and ages.

One of our major problems was narcotics seemed to take over where alcohol left off. Aid centers were being set up all over the country much like had been used for the alcoholic years before.

Addiction was even in the grade schools.

Automobile manufacturers gave us every known safety device on our cars for the accident death rate on the highways was unbelievable.

Moon landings were still of interest but we were taking it mostly for granted.

It looked like a cure for cancer had been found and our medical men state five years for human experience would prove it out. It had been proven with animals.

Heart troubles was number one killer with cancer as second.

We were told Streetsboro would be the largest city in Portage County due to our location.

At the time of this writing, we had many growing pains.

Halloween trick or treat might had been abolished. Many of our children were being hurt and made ill by things passed out at the door.

But we still believed in Santa Claus ha ha ha.

I wish I could have guessed what your questions are today about our way of life for as fast as things are or were moving for us in 1972, it leaves me in awe to the changes I’m sure have taken place.

Certainly, my wish as I wrote this letter was that I could have been around to participate at the opening of the capsule to see your reactions to what we had done.

My age being 52 is against me so perhaps one of my children or grandchildren on your day will speak out for me and our Sesquicentennial Committee.

Yours in posterity,

Ruth L. Hurd

(Mrs. Haring)

“I got chills reading different parts of that letter,” Kuhstos said.

Mary Waage was present at the time capsule’s burial. She remembers it being a gloomy, overcast day in which a small group of people showed up.

“There were some small, informal speeches,” she said. “The whole thing probably lasted about a half hour. I remember people being excited about burying the capsule. Did they do fireworks and things like that like they did this year? No, but people were very interested in putting that time capsule down, very interested.”

A new time capsule will be buried Sept. 17 at the city’s new fire station. Just like the Sesquicentennial capsule, this time capsule will lay untouched for half a century. It will not be opened until the year 2072. Broska said they will do everything they can to avoid mud and water damage this time.

“We’ve already been talking about how we’re going to do it, how we’re going to put drainage around it,” he said. “We will bury it on some limestones so that any water that does go by will pass right by. We’ve talked about possibly putting a vault within a vault, putting some anti-leak stuff on the inside. I think we’ll have it down pretty well.”

Roger Gordon
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