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Opening of the 1967 Swansea Time Capsule - events and press

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To read about the opening of the 1967 Swansea Time Capsule (Saturday, August 19, 2000) in the news, click the link to jump to the following articles on this page.


Videos from the events

Swansea Heritage Day 1967 Time Capsule News Reports Swansea Heritage Day Parade


Ballad of Obadiah Slade

Obadiah Slade was a patriot living at Brayton Point during the Revolutionary War. Brayton Point was part of Swansea at that time. Slade went to great lengths to secure food and supplies for Revolutionary War soldiers serving in Tiverton and Portsmouth. He was warned by his neighbors that the British would learn of his activities. Their prediction came true and one night the British raided his farm, burned his home and took Slade into captivity. He was imprisoned on a British prison ship called the Jersey where he died.

This is the Story of Obadiah Slade
Who was kidnapped one night in a British raid
His friends had warned him to be discrete
But Obadiah said "Our army must eat"

Provisions I'll bring them if I can
There never was a braver man
He died a man with his honor bright
For he did the things he thought were right

Then he was marked by the Redcoat British
Slade and his work they vowed they'd finish
One dark night they crossed Mt. Hope Bay
Crept up to his house where asleep he lay

They burned his house right down to the ground
They took poor old Slade to Long Island Sound
Where he died of malnutrition and misery
On a rotten jail ship called the Jersey

by Atty Harold K Hudner


Time Capsule Program

Heritage Day Program
Heritage Day Program

The Parade

The parade formed at 11:30 am on Saturday, August 19th at the intersection of Main Street and Gardners Neck Road.

The parade travelled through heavily populated parts of town and was headed by the Board of Selectmen followed by elements of the Swansea Fire, Police and other town departments.

Anyone who owned a motorized vehicle licensed for use on public ways was invited to join. Participants were urged to decorate their vehicles with bunting, flags, etc., letting their imaginations run wild. Valuable prizes were awarded on the basis of attractiveness and originality.

Gardners Neck Road south across Route 6 to the other side of Gardners Nk Rd
Right onto Wilbur Avenue
Left onto New Gardners Neck Road
Right onto Ocean Grove Avenue and continue west to Pinehusrt Avenue
North onto Macomber Avenue back to Wilbur Avenue
West/left onto Wilbur Avenue to right on Pearse Road
Left onto Old Warren Road
Right onto Bushee Road
Cross Route 6 and travel diagonally to Old Providence Road, heading north
Right onto Vinnicom Road heading east until it becomes Locust Street
Continue on Locust Street until it becomes Hortinville Road
Continue down Hortinville and turn right onto Milford Road and then left into Covel Estates to the Little League Complex

From the Herald News

Residents await opening of capsule stuffed with memories of days past

PENNY HUMPHREY, Herald News Staff Reporter August 19, 2000 SWANSEA -- It looked like a party on the front lawn of Town Hall Friday, with two dozen kids, smiling adults and a backhoe. Backhoe?

It was all part of the festivities surrounding digging up the 33-year-old time capsule buried on the front lawn since 1967.

"This is a nice thing," said Selectman Chairman Wayne Gray. "It gets the people together."

At 1 p.m. today, Heritage Day, the time capsule will be opened to reveal what residents put in more than three decades ago.

Everybody took a turn at peering into a five-foot deep hole where a burial vault, containing the surplus Navy ammunition container used as a time capsule, was revealed. The hole had been dug that morning and roots of a pine tree trimmed to get at the vault.

The cement vault weighed an estimated two tons and the capsule inside, about 200 pounds.

For years, a stone marked the spot. It bore the message Tercentenary Time Capsule, Aug. 19, 1967 to Aug. 19, 2000.

Finally Friday, the vault was cracked open at 1:11 p.m., to the applause of bystanders, to expose the capsule inside.

But there would be no more peeking. The capsule had a message on top.

It stated: "Tercentenary capsule not to be opened until Aug. 19."

"I got a few things put in there," said Horace A. "Hap" Pelletier, 80, who was a selectman at the time and general chairman of the Tercentenary Committee in 1967. The committee is the one that had the capsule buried.

Pelletier put a top hat inside, one he wore at the year-long celebration to mark the town’s 300th anniversary back in 1967.

He hopes to wear it during Heritage Day celebrations today, after the capsule is opened for the first time at 1 p.m. at the Little League Complex on Milford Road.

Pelletier and retired Judge Antone S. Aguiar, also a former 1967 selectman, planned the Heritage Day celebration.

Overnight Friday, police would have custody of the missile shaped object.

Today, it will be towed by a cruiser in the Heritage Day parade, which musters at 11:30 a.m. at Main Street and Gardners Neck Road.

Any resident with any legal vehicle is allowed to drive it in the motorized parade, that starts at noon and ends at the Little League Complex.

Lorraine Stone Grabert of Swansea watched as the capsule was removed from the vault and placed on a trailer to be brought to police. She was in charge of ticket sales for a pageant back in 1967.

"One of my daughters put in a Beatles record," she said.

Edith Pelletier, Pelletier’s wife, said she wrote a letter to her five children "predicting what they were going to do.

"I know two things didn’t work out," she said.

The opening of the capsule will be a poignant one for Ernest Wheeler. His late wife, Lorraine, put something into the capsule.

"My wife put a letter in for the kids," he said.

Melanie Demoranville said she put in photographs, baby mementos and predictions about her two young children at the time, Melissa, who was 10 months, and Bruce, who was 21 months.

On Friday, Demoranville’s daughter, Melissa Kenyon was at Town Hall lawn, nine months pregnant and in the beginning stages of labor, eager to see the time capsule revealed -- even though it was not opened.

"My grandfather, "Hap" (Pelletier) is in charge of this," Kenyon said. "I have items in the vault, too."

With her were her sons, Andrew 6; Nicholas, 4; and her husband Steven.

Ellen Furtado could not wait to see what her husband, Gerry, wrote to her. Gerry Furtado, married six years to Ellen at the time, wrote her a letter and put it in the capsule. The couple have been married 39 years.

Town Administrator Michael W. Finglas was amazed at the turnout Friday, when the capsule was even opened.

"I didn’t expect this kind of a crowd. It’s going to be a fun event," he said about today’s festivities.

Meanwhile, Finglas said that the next time capsule would be opened in 17 years, when the town will celebrate its 350th anniversary in 2017.

Schools will be allowed to place items in the capsule and Swansea will sell mini-time capsules for $5. Residents can purchase these and then place their mementos inside them. The mini capsules will be put in a large vault, which will be buried in the same place on town hall lawn.

The vault this time around will be supplied by Waring-Sullivan Co., which operates funeral homes.

Jeff Davis, an associate with Waring-Sullivan Co., said the Wilbert Vault would be donated by the company for the new project.

On Friday, Waring-Sullivan Co. also paid for the time of a crane owned by The Cemetery Vault Co. in Taunton and Mashpee to remove the old vault, which will be discarded

©The Herald News 2000


From the Herald News

Blast from the past

JAMES FINLAW, Herald News Staff Reporter August 20, 2000

photo caption reads: "Former Swansea Selectman Horace "Hap" Pelletier, right, removes the first bolts from the time capsule residents buried in 1967 as part of the town’s tercentenary celebration."

SWANSEA -- When the last bolt was removed and the container’s heavy metal lid was tossed aside, many in the large crowd sprang from their seats and surged toward it.Then, with the zeal of children gazing upon newly opened Christmas presents, the group expectantly peered inside.

Instantly, the air was filled with "oohs" and "aahs" as young and old alike laid their eyes upon the hundreds of articles inside the receptacle.

Horace "Hap" Pelletier was the first to reach into the white, oblong container. He pulled out a gray top hat and plopped it on his head.

"Here’s the hat!" he exclaimed, smiling broadly.

With that, Swansea’s present met its past.

On Aug. 19, 1967, Pelletier removed the very same hat from his head and placed it inside the same surplus ammunition container from which he now withdrew it.

The container was sealed and buried beneath the Town Hall’s front lawn, with the stipulation that it not be exhumed and reopened until Aug. 19, 2000.

The burying of the time capsule marked the conclusion of Swansea’s tercentenary celebration, which commemorated the town’s 1667 founding.

Exactly 33 years later, the time capsule was opened in a ceremony held Saturday at the Little League complex on the Covel Estate on Milford Road.

"This couldn’t have been any better. We had 300 people here today. We’re very happy," said Pelletier, who co-chaired the event with former Selectman Judge Antone S. Aguiar.

The hundreds of people gathered on the ball field to witness the time capsule’s opening all had different reasons for being there.

Some were youngsters, curious about relics from the late ‘60s.

Others were adults, who had placed an article in the capsule as children. Still, others were elderly folks, eager to see what it was that they had put in the capsule when their children were still young.

"I just came to see it because it is part of our history," said 11-year-old Douglas Macedo.

"I’d like to see some old magazines or maybe an old pack of baseball cards," he said.

Unfortunately for young Douglas, no one had thought to put baseball cards in the capsule back in 1967, but they had remembered to put in just about everything else.

A host of memorabilia from the tricentennial celebration lay in the capsule. Flags, trophies, commemorative medallions, bumper stickers and programs from the event were abundant.

Besides that, old magazines (In 1967 Glamour cost 50 cents), an old annual report (the town’s operating budget in 1966 was $1,680,261.09), photographs, and correspondence were piled in the capsule.

A letter from President Lyndon B. Johnson recognizing Swansea’s 300th anniversary was one of the more notable discoveries.

In addition, a tiny bottle of brandy, a Beatles album, a couple of cigarettes, matchbooks, coins, a phone book and even a military liberty pass were also inside.

"Steve Purdy, Armed Forces Liberty Pass," said Pelletier, reading the pass.

"I think he’s AWOL," he added with a chuckle.

Once everyone had filed by the container, Pelletier, Aguiar, and resident Katie Murphy began removing the individual articles, asking their owners to claim them.

Pelletier and Aguiar were both selectmen back in 1967. They had come up with the time capsule idea along with late Selectmen Chairman James C. Murphy. Katie Murphy represented her father at the capsule opening.

For some, like Roger Owens, the event took him back to his youth.

He and his childhood friend had interred a scholastic magazine called "Science and Math Weekly" in the capsule when they were sixth-graders at the E.S. Brown School.

"I remember it vividly. We were just all excited and wanted to put something in. It was a great day," he said.

Paula Gardella was 19 years old when she put a letter to her sister Cheryl in the capsule.

"I’ve got a letter in there for her about the man I thought she was potentially going to marry. Eventually they did marry, and they’ve been together for 27 years," she said happily.

Gardella also clasped an old 45 record her sister had placed in the container. It was "Rainy Day Women" by Bob Dylan.

"My daughter won’t believe it when she sees it. She’ll say ‘Mom, how do you play it?’"

For others, the event was a chance to reconnect with parents or relatives who had died.

Sheila Davis was 11 years old when the capsule was buried. She was hoping to find a letter from her late mother. The capsule contained a plastic bag filled with letters, notes and envelopes.

"That’s what I am hoping for. Something from my mother," she said.

Davis found a letter from her sister. She didn’t open it, saying that she wanted to wait to open it with her later.

Derek Thomas remarked, "Now I know where I got my handwriting from," as he looked at a note written to him by his late grandfather.

As those in attendance gazed at old photographs of themselves or their children, and read the faded words on letters written to them by departed relatives, it became apparent how pleasant and moving the event was for everyone.

In fact, it engendered so much interest that it sparked the creation of another time capsule.

The new capsule, which will contain hundreds of momentos sealed in individually labeled PVC tubes, is to be interred in the front lawn at Town Hall on Oct. 14.

It will be dug up in 2017, Swansea’s 350th anniversary.

©The Herald News 2000


From the ProJo

8.20.2000 00:15
Swansea time-capsule opening provides a whiff of memories

The 33-year-old booty includes books, letters and a small ceramic eagle that its maker was eager to claim.

Journal Staff Writer

SWANSEA -- More than anything, it smelled when it was opened. As the lid came off, the stench of three-decade-old air escaped from the time capsule and reached the noses of those peering forward to glimpse what they had buried.

"I have an eagle in there," said Florida Trepanier, who had placed the 14-carat gold-plated ceramic figure into the capsule 33 years ago. "It has a price tag on it of 5 dollars -- imagine that."

For several minutes, confusion reigned at the Swansea Little League fields yesterday afternoon, as several hundred townspeople relived the late 1960s.

"Look at all those letters," someone yelled upon spying a bag full of yellowed envelopes. Someone else spotted a varsity letter from the local high school. "Champs, '56-'57," it said across a golden basketball.

The time capsule was buried 6 feet deep in front of Town Hall on Aug. 19, 1967, as part of the town's celebration of its 300th birthday. A plaque marked the capsule's location and on Friday, cemetery officials took a backhoe and dug it out of the ground.

"It's in great shape, I thought," said Gerry Furtado, who helped with the burial in 1967 and was on hand yesterday to loosen the bolts that sealed it.

"We pressurized it with 30 pounds of carbon dioxide to help preserve it. The carbon dioxide displaced the oxygen to help delay the decay," he said.

The capsule was actually a U.S. Air Force missile shipping container, Furtado said. The town purchased it from civil defense surplus for $10 and painted it with red lettering that said, "Not to be opened until August 19 in the year 2000."

Although the outside was covered with rust, most of the possessions inside appeared to be well-preserved. Some of the books were moldy, but all items were identifiable.

Many spectators on hand wore clothing that recalled a life of 30 years ago. Ernie Wheeler sported a special tie and arm band from when he was a member of a men's organization called Brother of the Bush.

"We couldn't shave part of our face," Wheeler said, describing the criteria for belonging to the group. Other observers wore period hats and coats.

"We went to all these different things dressed up," Claudette Martin said of the many social events she and her husband attended together. "Today I wanted to see some of the different faces" from those days, she said. "It means a lot to me to be here today."

Organizers of Swansea's Heritage Day were also selling containers made of PVC pipe for residents to put current belongings in. A new time capsule will be buried in October.

Trepanier, who still makes ceramics after 33 years, gazed contentedly at her golden eagle lying in the time capsule. "I have no idea what I'll do with it now," she said. "I just want to get it back."

©The Providence Journal 2000