Lisa Sisson was on the "Where Am I?" question of the month within moments of it being posted. As for what was inside the time capsule, Sisson and others who were on hand for its burying were a little hazy.
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“WHERE AM I?” ANSWER — JANUARY 2022
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JANUARY 12, 2022) – Sometimes, the “Where Am I?” question from the Town stumps everyone.
This month’s picture was not one of those.
Within minutes of the image of a time capsule stone going live online, Lisa Sisson was on it. That’s mainly because the now administrative assistant to Police Chief William Kewer was at the Aug. 23, 1993 ceremony when the time capsule was buried in front of Town Hall.
Asked what she remembered about that day, Sisson said it was hard to believe close to 30 years had passed. As for what was inside the time capsule — or “memory capsule” as it was dubbed by organizers of the Town’s all summer 250th birthday celebration — Sisson said her memory was a little fuzzy.
“I think it was something in regards to the tax rolls for that year and some other town paraphernalia,” Sisson said. “I know we had brochures and possibly teeshirts and hats and stickers with our Jubilee ‘93 slogan and logo made up. I can still see them.”
The message was similar from many other people involved with the Town back then, some who helped organize the more than 20 events around the birthday celebration.
Town Councilwoman M. Theresa Santos was working at Town Hall then and chuckled when asked this week about the time capsule.
“I have no idea, none whatsoever,” Santos said. “I do remember there was a time capsule, but don’t ask me what’s inside it.”
Attorney Robert M. Silva, who served as a co-chairman of the Jubilee ’93 celebration, said he was sure there were documents related to the Town inside, letters, cards, things like that.
“It was a great time, the whole Jubilee,” Silva said. “Two-hundred fifty years is a pretty significant milestone and it was for the whole summer. I remember a really nice cocktail party at the Clambake Club of Newport on Tuckerman Avenue. There were at least 150 people there.”
Town Clerk Wendy J.W. Marshall said she was working in the Town Clerk’s office at the time under now retired Town Clerk Barbara Nash.
“I think we put a picture in (the capsule),” Marshall said, laughing. “Deb (Settle) and Marge (Lawton) were in it too and I’m pretty sure I was pregnant then.”
Then council President George L. “Andy” Andrade said he vividly recalls one aspect about the time capsule.
“The one thing I remember was a letter from me as Town Council President,” Andrade said. “I wrote about what makes Middletown great and unique. This letter was addressed to the council President. I wished him/her well and wondered how our beautiful Town had changed over the many years.”
When asked about the capsule, Middletown Historical Society President Mary Dennis said she didn’t realize there was one in front of the government center at 350 East Main Road.
“When you mentioned it to me, I thought it was a septic tank cover,” Dennis said, laughing. “I never really noticed it before.”
Her curiosity piqued, Dennis said she scoured the records of the Prospect Avenue historical society and came up with some paperwork, but nothing that outlined the capsule itself.
“I seem to remember my dad (Bob Dennis) talking about it and how kids wrote letters and did art to go in it, but I could be totally wrong,” Dennis said. “If it’s like any other time capsule I’ve ever heard about, it’s filled with mementos and papers that are reflective of the time.”
Right you are, Ms. Dennis. According to a piece that ran on page A1 of the Aug. 24, 1993 edition of “The Daily News,” the time capsule was loaded with plenty of Middletown memories.
Described as an 18-by-18-by-24-inch cube, the time capsule had more than 200 pieces of Middletown history inside. Among those included a picture of local police officers, resumes and pictures of politicians, two bottles of Vinland wine, a TV Guide and other souvenirs.
To preserve the items, a press clipping said the cube was filled with helium. And then it was placed and sealed inside a large “coffin-like” vault to protect it from the elements.
How well all those letters, pictures and everything else held up won’t be known until Aug. 23, 2093, when the capsule is scheduled to be dug up and opened.