Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Pine Hill time capsule buried 42 years ago on the Fourth of July

The Pine Hill Time Capsule.

Today – July 4 – marks the 242nd birthday of the United States, and it also marks 42 years from the day that a time capsule was buried outside the town hall in Pine Hill.

I first wrote about the Pine Hill time capsule in May after I discovered it while walking from the town hall parking lot to the old Bank of Pine Hill building. For those of you unfamiliar with this time capsule, it’s located near the base of the flagpole at the corner of Dunn Avenue and Oak Grove Street, a short walk from the main entrance to town hall.

If you know where to look, the time capsule’s not hard to find. Just look for a weathered, rectangular concrete slab that’s about two-by-three feet square. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see words etched in the top of the slab that read: BICENTENNIAL TIME CAPSULE, ENCASED JULY 4, 1976.

Since first writing about the time capsule in May, I’ve had a number of people contact to me to say they were there the day the time capsule was buried. Chief among these was Eddie Morgan, a former town employee who retired in 2011 as the town’s water treatment plant operator. Morgan said that he was 23 years old in 1976, which was also the same year that he started working for the Town of Pine Hill.

Morgan said he well remembers helping Mayor Harold Swearingen and the late Thomas Champion build and bury the capsule, which was done as part of a large bicentennial celebration in the town. Morgan said that there was a large crowd on hand for the event and that many in the crowd are no longer living.

Morgan remembers that Champion was a “huge help” in designing and building the time capsule, which consisted of 12-inch PVC pipes with caps at both ends. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to find a complete list of the capsule’s contents, but Morgan said he remembers that the capsule contained copies of old newspapers and “lots of pictures” of local churches and businesses. Morgan noted that he remembers there being lots of pictures because the mayor assigned him with the task of taking pictures of sites in the town especially for the capsule.

Morgan said he has fond and vivid memories of July 4, 1976 because as part of the bicentennial celebration, the town hosted a bicentennial tennis tournament, which he won. As part of the honors he received for winning the tournament, he had his photo taken and it was also placed inside the capsule.

Also, while it’s not indicated on the slab covering the capsule, Morgan said that he is certain that the intent of the mayor and town council at the time was for the capsule to remain buried for 100 years and for it to be reopened on the nation’s 300th birthday in 2076, which is still 58 more years away.

Kay Capps also wrote to say that she also remembers that the capsule is supposed to stay buried for 100 years. She said that she was at town hall as a 15-year-old on July 4, 1976 and remembers that someone pointed out that the youngest person in the crowd that day was a three-month-old baby. Officials that day noted that, in all likelihood, even that baby would not be alive to see the capsule reopened in 2076, Capps said.

In the end, I’d like to hear from anyone in the reading audience with a complete list of the items that were buried in the Pine Hill time capsule. Also, if anyone knows of any other time capsules in Wilcox County, please let me hear from you. More than likely, if there’s a time capsule in Pine Hill, there might be other similar capsules elsewhere in the county.

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