A month after it was unearthed, the long-anticipated wait is almost over to see what secrets the 50-year-old Hillsville Time Capsule has held all these years.
Beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 9, the contents of the Time Capsule that was buried in front of the old Carroll Drug building will be on display in Hillsville as a precursor to the town’s Summer Nights Concert Series and Classic Car Cruise-In that evening.
Shelby Inscore-Puckett, who has spent the last month preserving and restoring many of the items from the time capsule, said the location to display the items has still not been finalized. That determination will depend on several factors, including weather. If it is rainy that day, the items will have to be displayed inside. Three locations are possibilities – in front of the historic Carroll County Courthouse, inside the Carroll County Historical Society Museum, or in the Carter Home. Since all three are located next to each other, it should make the display easy to find on the day of the event.
Some folks were left disappointed with the plan not to open the Time Capsule of the day of the May 12 excavation. In hindsight, it seems to have been the right decision as moisture had seeped heavily into the canister holding those historic items.
“There was no way we could have done it that day. Even at the best, I had other people helping me, but some of those things would have disintegrated in your hand,” Inscore-Puckett said. “I have been amazed at how much stuff we saved and it has turned out to be in as good of shape as it has. I think it will be a good display of things. There is quite an assortment because a lot of people were interested in putting things into the capsule.”
Inscore-Puckett and a small group of folks have spent the last month working hard to restore and preserve the items for public display. Karen Ciotti of Laurel Fork has helped her with copying, magnifying, and preparation in general. Jamie Webb of Webb’s Photography has photographed all the items, and Ron Hall has scanned photos and worked to restore pictures.
“Unfortunately the pictures and metal were the hardest hit. If it was metal, it has turned to rust and some of the pictures have just pretty much disintegrated,” Inscore-Puckett said. “He is working on scanning and picture restoration and hoping he can salvage some of the pictures that are damaged.”
She also credited Delilah Brady for scanning the multiple newspapers that were included in the Time Capsule. Newspapers in the capsule were a March 28, 1968 edition of The Carroll News, an April 2, 1968 edition of The Galax Gazette, a copy of The Roanoke Times, an old Trumpet newspaper from Hillsville High School and a paper from the local Catholic Church.
“The file that she has made, you can get up close and read them because the papers were quite fragile,” Inscore-Puckett said. “And then of course Tom Jackson and his staff, anything I have needed they have been there for me.”
Many letters from business owners and civic leaders were also uncovered from the Time Capsule. Because of their fragile nature due to the moisture inside the Time Capsule, Inscore-Puckett said there is a plan in place to have the originals displayed in plastic sleeves to preserve them. Copies have been made, however, so that people can go through notebooks of the items and read them without destroying the originals. Those will all be turned over to the Carroll County Historical Society Museum once the events around the Time Capsule have concluded.
“Many of the items got wet and they are very fragile. And so what I have done in my working is after we have dried them, we put a stiff acid-free backing behind each paper, and then made a copy and put them in plastic sleeves,” she said. “Our thinking is we will probably display them on a board where people can look at the originals and then have notebooks, four or five notebooks, where people can spend time to go through and read them. Gale E. Marshall was the commander of the VFW at the time and he wrote a really nice letter to his successor. It really moved me, but the print was so fine and blurred that we had to use a magnifying glass. We have transcribed that letter, so we have the original, but then we also transcribed it so people can read what he said.”
Inscore-Puckett said there were also some coins in the Time Capsule. One item she was particularly concerned about was a Bible that was wrapped in a brown paper bag. She said there was a layer of mold on the pages that was about a quarter-of-an-inch thick.
“And the bible was wet and I thought we would never save it. But once I brought it home and dried it and used the dehumidifier for a month, it is intact and in good enough condition to give to the person it was intended for,” she said. “There was also a necktie from Raleigh Cooley and then messages from the schools that were very interesting from the standpoint of Mary Kate Cooley, who was chairman of the school board at the time. Sprague Electric and other industries sent information and it is fun to read where we are 50 years ago and to see the changes and the things that aren’t here anymore and what it was like back then.”
Retired teacher Ruthie Griggs has spent many hours working on the history of businesses that were operating in Hillsville when the Time Capsule was buried on April 1, 1968. Local attorney Tom Jackson, who owns the building in front of the Time Capsule, will present historical information from Griggs’ research before the unveiling of the Time Capsule’s contents on June 9.
Among the businesses that are still operating that were open in 1968 include Nuckolls Drug (Carroll County’s longest continuously-operating business, founded in 1896), Vaughan-Guynn-McGrady Funeral Home, F. Rees in Mount Airy, the Hillsville Diner, Sunny Side Store, Hillsville Hardware (now Guynn Furniture), The Carroll News, Roses in Galax, Family Shoe Store, Stone’s Grocery, Ideal Florist, and Lake View Restaurant. A long list of businesses from that time that are no longer operating include Stop In (Cornies), Hillsville Cleaners, B&L Chevrolet, Hillsville Esso (located at the stoplight), C.E. Ridge Store (Five and Dime), Carroll Drug, VFW teen dances, Hillsville Shell Station (also a local bus stop for Greyhound and Trailway), Jackson Men’s Wear, Ma-Del Ladies Wear, Peoples Drug Store (Galax), Herman Utt’s Grocery Store, Guynn’s Department Store, Sprague Electric, Hicks Ford Sales, Lyon and Perry Grocery, Twin County Motor Co. (Galax), Blue Ridge Woven Label Company, Montgomery Jewelers, Globmans (Galax), Towne Theatre, Pure Oil Station, McGrady Motor, Pilot Oil Company, Reese’s Recapping, E.B. Bunn’s Grocery and Esso Station (Fancy Gap), Surratt’s Jewelry, Worth Utt’s Store, IGA, Elmer Parnell Grocery, Junior’s Store, Shell Service Station, Kegley’s Texaco, and Bohon Body Shop.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN