During the 1981 session at the Jewish summer camp that I attended, there was a special event as former campers from the 1971 session were arriving. The reason for their visit was that they were coming to unearth a time capsule they had buried a decade ago at the camp.
I honestly don’t recall much about that event. There was some drama about breaking through the cement to get to the capsule. There was a gathering in our camp’s amphitheater where the contents of the capsule were unveiled, but I can’t bring to mind any of the items.
For the current crop of campers, it was decided that we too would bury a time capsule, but that it would stay underground for fifteen years (which is an eternity when you are twelve). So, each cabin was allowed to place one item of significance into the capsule and each camper would be able to write a letter to their future self.
Letters were written. Items were placed. The capsule was laid into the ground and encased in concrete. A lovely plaque was set into the cement so that all would know what was buried below.
At some point between 1981 and 1996, I had my own idea for a personal time capsule. In 1993, I placed some items in an envelope and wrote down a “Open By” date on it. I then stashed the envelope away and waited.
One of the advantages of moving around as much as I have is the opportunity to see and experience many varied and new things. A disadvantage of moving around as much as I have is that personal effects are packed away, stowed away, and stored away so many times that they can be forgotten. Such was the case of my 1993 time capsule/envelope. It was lost to the sands of time after so many pack-outs.
This is the story of the contents of that envelope.
After moving back into our house after our return from Bangkok, the family and I had many boxes to go through. It was inside one of those boxes that I came across a plain-looking packing envelope with the simple inscription of “1-1-2000 2:06AM”
That was the “Open By” date I had written on my long-forgotten time capsule.
Here’s what was inside.
The front page of the San Diego Union-Tribune from that November 1993 day when I created my time capsule.
The “New U.S. attorney” mentioned in the headline on the left hand side of the page is Alan Bersin, who was being tasked with being the U.S. attorney for San Diego and Imperial counties.
The “Welfare reform” mentioned in the headline talks about President Bill Clinton’s plan to revamp the federal welfare system. It would not be until 1996 when the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) would be signed which significantly reformed the federal welfare program.
On page A-5, there is an ad for Circuit City touted their Thanksgiving Weekend sale letting consumers know they can purchase a IBM computer for $988. It comes with an Intel 486 processor (25MHz), 2MB of RAM, a 85MB hard drive, a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, and Windows 3.1.
You can also buy a Sega Genesis for $89.
Also, of note, is a story on page A-14 about former President George Bush. What I find interesting about this story is how he is identified. The article simply says “George Bush”. There is no “H. W.” in the middle of his name. There is no reference to “Bush-41”. Of course, there was no need, back in 1993, to make any differentiation because there had only been one Bush in the White House.
The forecast for the day called for the temperature in San Diego to hit 70.
In addition to the day’s newspaper, I also stashed away the latest copy of TIME magazine.
There are certain articles from this twenty-three year old magazine that prove the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Take for example the cover story about human cloning. This article talks about the ethical dilemmas that could be faced after scientists have demonstrated a new technology. In 1993, it was cloning a human embryo. Today, it is CRISPR.
Page 47 of this issue of TIME has an article about the possibility of statehood for Puerto Rico. A possibility still talked about today.
Page 55 talks about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. In 1993, it was Kim Il Sung rattling the sabers. Now it is his grandson, Kim Jong-Un, doing the same.
And on page 36, there is an article devoted to talking about the Health Security Act, President Clinton’s plan to change health care. Nearly a quarter of a century later, the push to reform health care is still in the news.
In addition to news periodicals, I did stash away some other items. Here below are issues 0-4 of Rob Liefeld’s Brigade from 1993.
They’re in mint condition since they have not seen sunlight in twenty-three years.
That’s the story of my time capsule/envelope.
P.S. As to the contents of the camp capsule from 1981, including the text of my letter to my future self…well, that’s a story for another day.