Time Capsule Teaches Valuable Lesson In Never Getting Your Hopes Up Ever

Illustration for article titled Time Capsule Teaches Valuable Lesson In Never Getting Your Hopes Up Ever

Time capsules can sometimes be pretty cool. But more often than not, they’re boring as shit.


As this editorial about a recently opened time capsule in Concord, New Hampshire explains:

After months of fanfare and speculation, the time capsule entombed beneath City Plaza on Main Street was finally opened and its contents revealed – largely to yawns. The lackluster nature of the contents was perhaps a reflection of the times, and of far greater importance to the community of civic organizations, churches and major employers.

It may be that the members of the time capsule committee were very serious people laboring under a weighty responsibility. It could be that the spirit of the sixties, which was moving east from California and north from New York City and Boston, hadn’t made it to Concord by 1965, for there’s no sign of a sense of humor in the capsule.

It didn’t have to be that way.

A reflection of the times? It didn’t have to be that way? A bit over the top, but sure, those of us who follow time capsule news feel you, Concord Monitor. It doesn’t have to be that way. Except that it does. Why don’t people put cool things inside time capsules? Because cool things generally cost money.


Want to show the people of 100 years hence what an iPhone looks like? Well, go ahead and pop it in your time capsule. What? You’re not excited about putting a $600 gadget into a time capsule that people may or may not eventually see? Well, there’s your problem right there.

So, if the Concord Monitor was disappointed, what did they want to see from their recently opened 1965 capsule? More boring shit, actually.

There were things that we wish would have been in the capsule: a can or label from SpaghettiOs, which came out that year; a program from the 1965 Celtics championship team led by Sam Jones, John Havlicek and Bill Russell; music of the day by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Dylan on 45s; a movie poster from the old Concord Theatre run by the Cantin sisters; a menu from the lunch counter in Woolworth; and a copy of the first Medicare card issued to a Concord resident. Others no doubt have their wishes.

A label from Spaghetti O’s? C’mon guys. Your own premise is that you can dream up whatever you’d like to see in a time capsule from in 1965 and the best you can do is a menu and some soup can labels?

And it gets worse.

A Concord Historical Society committee is collecting suggestions for what to put in the time capsule, which will be reburied. We have a few.

How about a small piece of the Sewalls Falls bridge; a roster of city residents who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; a list of the movies shown at Red River Theatres; a thumb drive with music from Concord bands; a copy of a gay couple’s marriage license; photos that depict the city’s increasing diversity; and pictures taken on Main Street during Market Days with a focus on people’s tattoos – a fashion statement that may have run its course by 2065.


Pictures of people with tattoos? That’s the best you got for your new time capsule? I dare say that they’ll have plenty of pictures of people with tattoos from 2015 to comb through. And tattoos, even if they’re less common, certainly won’t be some mysterious thing.

You’re part of the problem, Concord Monitor. You’re part of the problem.

Image: Screenshot of the time capsule in question from WMUR


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Outside of digital media and human rights, what has significantly changed in American culture since 1965? Or rather, list everything we had then that we would be baffled by now. Aaaaand...go!

...yeah, exactly. Post-WWII culture has been immortalized in our media to the point where it will likely never be unfamiliar. Open a time capsule from 1865 or 1915 and be somewhat mistified by the fashion, technology (or lack of), names, music, toys, etc.

But open a time capsule from 1965 and get...the Beatles and the Stones. Spaghetti Os. Celtics tickets. A Medicare card. Everything we’re still completely familiar with. Hell, children in 1965 are still employed and driving around today. Even a 25 year old then is now only...75? Hardly a decade into retirement. I encounter people who were over the age of 10 in 1965, all the frickin time. My parents were two of them, and they’re in their mid 50s. What they remember, I still see almost daily. Outside of digital media and social norms, of course. But still, it’s not that foreign. It’s just...older versions of the same shit we have now.

And that’s the point. A time capsule is supposed to be opened when society and culture have moved away (hopefully forward?) sufficiently to see the contents as anachronous at worst, completely alien and primitive at best. But only 50 years?

I’m guessing they expected us to be all “Jetsons/StarTrek” by now. And the fact that we’re not:


means that while we’ve made strides in human rights and media technology, we’re nowhere close to as far advanced as they imagined we would be by 2015, back in 1965. To them, we should have colonized the Moon and Mars, be sending people to Europa and Titan, and have permanent commercial/residential habitation in orbit of Earth.

And what do we have instead? Ferguson. Hobby Lobby. Apple lawsuits. Netflix. Tesla vs GM. Rising tuition. The Duggars.

Nixon and Reagan’s administrations put the (hopefully temporary) brakes on technological advancement, shifted America’s attention to social/religious/international interests, and shattered our collective drive toward the future, in favor of “me first, fuck you!” thinking. And yes, the thinking is now spreading to everyone: “my needs first, fuck yours.”

This slowed real cultural change to a crawl. To a slow drip. Instead of new and interesting changes to our society, we’re re-re-regressing back to: “Hippies”. “Disco”. “The 80s”. “The Fifties!” (tm) and everything back to about...1955. Elvis. Our culture and society are constantly slamming backward against the Elvis-wall of change, and terrified of leaving the 20th century behind in favor of moving forward to the 21st. And which group is keeping us in that quasi-dreamstate between 1955-1985? Never letting us move forward as a society, and actually let America enter the 21st Century of social, environmental, political, and technological progress?

Boomers. Those very people who were children in...1965. We’re still living in their world. We have been since the 80s, when society simply stopped moving forward, and started looking backward.

...another “Star Trek” or “X-Men” movie anyone? Both were fresh in 1966, you know!