25 years ago, my grandmother participated in a time capsule project sponsored by her church. Each participant selected a few meaningful items from his or her family that represented life at that time – a ticket stub from a baseball game, a favorite t-shirt, a grocery store receipt. Some participants included letters written to the family members who would open the time capsule.
All items were placed in a sealed box, a time capsule, that was buried on the church grounds, not to be opened for 50 years.
That was the year 1993.
Now that my grandparents have passed away, my grandmother in 2013 and my grandfather in 2017, their home is empty, and my family and I have taken that inevitable next step of preparing it for rent. In our quest to find and preserve those items we want to keep within the family, we stumbled across a copy of my grandmother’s time capsule letter, dated September 28, 1993.
A Letter from the Past
“Dear Sarah, Molly, and John…” it read. My grandmother had written to her grandchildren. In theory, we would be the only family members still alive 50 years later (the year 2043!)
My grandmother painted a vivid picture of life in 1993, detailing family milestones, the current political climate, even popular snack foods. Here are some of the most memorable.
Life as We Knew It
- The VCR
This vehicle for recording and watching TV shows, movies, and –my grandfather’s favorite – home movies recorded using a camcorder (remember those?!), is all but extinct. The DVD player, Blu-ray player, and now streaming media have replaced the need for VHS tapes. But in 1993, my grandmother described watching Winnie the Pooh “on the VCR” with my brother.
- National Healthcare
Though it would take years for a national health care plan to take effect, President Clinton introduced his plan, The Health Security Act, in 1993.
And though it failed in 1994, my grandparents believed the idea of healthcare for all Americans would eventually pass.
“We feel that eventually it will go but will probably take years,” my grandmother wrote, adding “healthcare is super expensive.”
- Fat-free Everything
Remember when fat was the enemy? Though I was young, I remember the words “fat-free” scrolled across everything from salad dressings to cereals to cookies. As long as the nutrition facts read Total Fat: 0g, the food was considered healthy. And if the label also read Cholesterol: 0g, it was considered even healthier. But, my memories of growing up and avoiding cholesterol are a story for another post.
I can still remember opening the white cabinet doors to my grandparents’ pantry to find a green box with white lettering that contained Snackwell’s chocolate chip cookies. Snackwell’s made nearly every dessert fat-free, and my grandmother had them all. Cream-filled chocolate cakes, vanilla sandwich cookies, even frozen yogurt.
“We eat fish, chicken and lots of pasta, salads and fat-free frozen yogurt,” she wrote.
See you in 2043
My grandmother closed her letter by stating that my grandfather was going to “put this on his word processor,” meaning that she’d handwritten the letter.
Though I’ve opened a part of the time capsule 25 years early, I’m grateful for that word processor and my grandfather’s willingness to save (and make copies of) everything.
What’s in store for 2043, 25 years from now, and the rest of the items in the time capsule? Here’s hoping I’m alive to find out!