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Charlotte Area

Mayor Opens 50-Year-Old Time Capsule And Finds A Soggy Message

Fifty years ago, Charlotte Mayor Stanford Brookshire buried a time capsule in front of the Park Terrace movie theater in South Charlotte.

He left instructions. It was to be opened by the mayor of Charlotte in 2014. On Sunday, Mayor Dan Clodfelter opened the time capsule. The message though – was very wet.  

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Rex Allman talks about what it was like to watch the time capsule be buried on May 11, 1964.

Rex Allman was 10 years old on May 11, 1964 when then-mayor Stan Brookshire buried the time capsule during the grand opening of the Park Terrace Movie Theater.

He says he remembers fireworks exploding above.  

"Back then, the Jetson's were on prime time," Allman says. "I figured by the time this happened we'd be having flying cars. Of course, we don't have 'em yet."

Credit Tasnim Shamma
A three-inch reel-to-reel audio tape was buried in the time capsule from 1964.

On Sunday, a couple hundred people packed the entrance to the theater.

Mayor Dan Clodfelter pulled out a few things: a three-inch reel-to-reel audio tape, a small key to the city and newspaper articles. But almost everything in the time-capsule was damaged by water.  

Alice Harrell was 11 years old when she saw Mayor Brookshire drop his letter into the cement box.

"I'm surprised that it wasn't sealed all the way," Harrell says.

"I mean you'd think that those little things would be taken care of. But then again, it was when time capsules were just becoming popular and nobody had to wait fifty years to see how you really seal them, I guess. So it was kind of a disappointment that it was so mushy inside and not easy to see."

Credit Tasnim Shamma
Much of what was inside the time capsule was damaged by water.

Fortunately, there are news reports of the message he planned to send. The letter to the mayor in 2014 talked about progress Charlotte made in 1964 and his predictions for the future.

Brenda Matthews, with radio station 104.7, helped host the event. She says she enjoyed hearing the predictions.

"He predicted that Charlotte would be a city of one million people in 2014," Matthews says. "Well as of September last year, we were one million people in Mecklenburg County, which is mostly Charlotte, so we're not there yet, but we're really close."

Credit Jeremy Markovich / NBC Charlotte
An article from The Charlotte News on May 11, 1964 about the time capsule.

There is talk of trying to salvage the audio tape and Mayor Clodfelter says he may bury a letter for the Charlotte mayor to open in 2064.

If he does, Rex Allman has some advice: "Seal it in nitrogen this time, so it'll look good!"