To say that one is living in the past is typically an insult. For the Town of Hillsville, it will be a five-month celebration.
Beginning May 12, a series of events will be held celebrating the opening of the time capsule in front of the old Carroll Drug store on Main Street (now the location of A Shining Star Salon & Spa). The time capsule was planted by Carroll Drug Inc. on April 1, 1968 to celebrate its grand opening in a new building, exactly one year from the date the old Carroll Drug building burned. The time capsule was scheduled to be opened 50 years later on April 1, 2018.
Local attorney Tom Jackson now owns the building associated with the time capsule. And while Jackson had big plans for opening the capsule, the original scheduled opening date presented a couple of issues. For starters, April 1, 2018 just happened to fall on Easter Sunday. Secondly, with Old Man Winter’s refusal to give way to spring, Jackson wanted to ensure the event could be held in warm weather.
After a recent meeting with several community leaders, an idea was born even greater than what Jackson had originally envisioned. The opening of the time capsule will now be held over three separate events from May to September, all in coordination with the Town of Hillsville’s Summer Nights Concert Series & Classic Car Cruise-Ins.
While details are still being firmed up, the plan is to lift the time capsule out of the ground prior to the Town’s first car show of the season on May 12. The event is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in front of A Shining Star Beauty Salon. Long-time Carroll County teacher and beloved citizen Ruthie Griggs will be presenting a historical presentation about what life in Hillsville was like 50 years ago as part of the event. Jackson also hopes to have a Vietnam veteran speak at the event as the war in the jungle was raging at the time of the capsule’s placement.
A second event is planned for the June 9 car show, where the contents of the time capsule will be on display for public viewing, most likely at the historic Carter Home on Hillsville’s Main Street. At the final car show of the season on September 8, the plan is to reload the time capsule to be reopened again 50 years later in 2068.
“I am very excited. I think it’s a great opportunity to stop and look back at where we have come from but also appreciate where we are now. And ultimately, it’s also an opportunity to look forward as to where we might be in the years ahead. I think that will be good for our community,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of rich stories that will come out of this event that all center around the community that stuck together and people who have helped each other. Just the very ability of Bill Copeland to be back in business with the drug store on Monday after his original Carroll Drug burned on Saturday is an amazing story, and to me that kind of symbolizes what I believe this community is still about. It hasn’t changed, I hope, in 50 years that we still care about each other and we still have the ability to help each other and that we are kind of in this thing together when people suffer through some difficult times. That is one piece of it but just understanding how much our society has changed in 50 years is going to be a fun experience.”
Being able to incorporate the opening of the time capsule in with the already-popular car shows is something that should make for some memorable times.
“I am really excited and I hope all the citizens that participated back in 1968 can come out, and it gives everybody an opportunity and more than enough time to get up here to see the time capsule actually come out,” Hillsville Mayor Greg Crowder said. “I think it is just another attraction for that weekend to help get everybody in town. It is going to be a major event. We decided to do it then because the streets in town were already going to be shut down that day.”
Traveling Back in Time
Hey Jude by The Beatles was the number one song and 2001: A Space Odyssey was the top grossing film in 1968. And while both are remembered fondly by most people, 1968 was hardly a time of rainbows and lollipops. In fact, 1968 is often considered to be one of the most turbulent years of the 20th century in the United States.
The year began with the Tet Offensive, one of the largest military campaigns of the Vietnam War, which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides. The surprise attack against U.S. and allied forces helped escalate the war, peaking when then-President Lyndon B. Johnson increased the maximum number of troops on the ground at one time at more than half a million.
Just three days after the dedication of the Hillsville Time Capsule, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, leading to race riots breaking out all over the country. Robert F. Kennedy was also assassinated in June, and the resulting dissension within the Democratic Party ultimately led to the election of Richard Nixon as president.
Jackson believes the opening of the time capsule will allow Carroll County’s youth a rare chance to look back at what life was like in the area 50 years ago. It should also lead to some interesting perspectives from young and old alike.
“I think some of our young people are going to be totally confused as we talk about a time in our past where there were no cell phones, no computers and no tweeting going on. They should listen closely to how people survived without all those things,” Jackson said. “I think people are going to be fascinated by what comes out of the capsule because you’re looking at life as it was seen 50 years ago through the eyes of girl scouts on up to adult leaders in the community. That in itself should be a really fun exercise, and we can take some time maybe and figure out how much things have changed and maybe how much things are still the same in some ways.”
According to an article in the March 28, 1968 edition of The Carroll News, the time capsule is made of copper and is nine inches wide and 18 inches deep. The article notes the capsule would be embedded in cement, vacuum sealed and covered with a bronze plaque.
A register was placed in Carroll Drug prior to the grand opening. The public was invited to stop by and sign the register, which would be placed in the capsule. Citizens were also invited to bring a photograph, old coin, or any old or historic object to be placed in the capsule. School and civic officials were expected to place objects in the capsule. Also, that week’s editon of The Carroll News was to go inside.
The story behind the time capsule’s placement is quite interesting itself, and one that not everyone knows about it. Two years to the day he moved to Hillsville, Bill Copeland’s Carroll Drug business caught fire on April 1, 1967.
“Just as I came up the hill, the front end of the drug store just exploded, with some parts of the building landing across the street where the Shell Service Station used to be,” said Copeland in a 2014 interview with The Carroll News. He noted that the Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department was able to save perhaps the most important items in the building – the drug store’s prescription records.
Despite that setback, the Carroll Drug was only out of business one day.
“Glen Jackson said he had some space I could use, so I moved into what is now the Cooley and Compton building. Rex Slusher and many others spent all day Saturday and Sunday working and we opened for business on Monday,” said Copeland. “Mr. Jackson wouldn’t take a penny. I did sneak around and pay some of the guys who worked all day, but Mr. Jackson never would take anything.”
Exactly one year later, the new Carroll Drug was dedicated, complete with the town’s first elevator. In addition, the time capsule was buried under the sidewalk in front of the building. Copeland moved from the Carroll Drug location downtown to South Main St. to open Blue Ridge Pharmacy in 1989.
“That is a great story and people like Bill Copeland and Mava Vass are just treasures to this community,” Jackson said. “I am so glad Bill and people that had a hand in the time capsule will be there with us to celebrate the opening.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN