Did you bury a time capsule in St. Paul in 1969? Because I found it. Well, technically my friend found it. But he knew I was the only person in his life who might care about this nondescript plastic bottle that was buried in his backyard. Most people would easily mistake the thing for trash. And I guess it kind of was. Nature is not terribly gentle with things we put in the ground.
Back in early September of 2011, I was helping my friend dig up his yard to put in a new patio. We were digging for hours, constantly hitting rocks in the soil with our shovels — a sharp clanging noise reverberating through the neighborhood with each push into the ground. But then my friend hit something a bit softer. Turns out, it was a time capsule.
At first I didn't believe it. Could my friend be playing a joke on his weirdo friend who was obsessed with time capsules? Judging by what was inside, this would've had to have been a joke over forty years in the making.
Unscrewing the top, I found a soggy, rolled up piece of brown paper inside. The tiny pages were sticking together and I was terrified of destroying it. Of all the words mashed together in a wet crumpled mess, the only things I could make out definitively were a name: Barbara. And a year: 1969. It wasn't much, but it was enough to establish that this little bottle was probably intentionally buried in that backyard. Probably by a woman named Barbara in 1969, if I had to take a wild guess.
My mind wandered and I started to imagine what possessed Barbara (if that was indeed the name of the time capsuler) to bury this in the backyard of her St. Paul home. The ground in Minnesota is frozen for much of the year, so I started to speculate that it was probably buried in the summer. Could this have been in commemoration of the moon landing on July 20, 1969? I truly have no idea, but people really enjoy burying time capsules during historic events.