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Sounds Of 1967 In Rare Time Capsule

Voices From 1967

A fourth-grader reads his speech about 1967, and a wish for the future: "no more wars."

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Science teacher Mr. Rodger places items into a time capsule, from a report card to "a rock-and-roll magazine."

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PTA President Rosalie Nussbaum speaks to "the mothers and fathers of the year 2000."

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A sampling of ideas about the world in 2000, from moving sidewalks to cars without wheels.

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Meadow Elementary School's time capsule from 1967 is unearthed in this file photo from 2000. Cindy Carpien/NPR hide caption

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Cindy Carpien/NPR

There may be close to 15,000 time capsules resting somewhere around the world, either buried in the ground or encased above it. But only 1 in 1,000 will ever be opened, according to the Atlanta-based International Time Capsule Society. Most often, they are forgotten or lost. And even if they are recovered, the contents may have turned to mush.

This was not the case with a capsule buried in 1967 and opened in 2000 by alumni of Meadow Elementary School in Baldwin, N.Y. Among the contents was something the society says is rare: an intact reel-to-reel audio tape.

The tape is a 45-minute recording of the school assembly before the capsule was buried in the school's front lawn. There are speeches from students reading award-winning essays about the year 1967 and giving their predictions for the year 2000 — a time when many of the children would be in their far-off 40s.

The capsule was made of PVC piping, encased in cement and then lowered into the ground while more than a thousand students looked on.

But 33 years later, school officials were unaware of the capsule's existence — until former students started calling, wondering when the ceremony to unearth the capsule was scheduled. Unfortunately, no one at the school knew where it was buried. It took a former student to help find it.

Warned that the contents may have disintegrated due to the elements, school officials pulled the capsule out of the ground weeks before the event for a sneak peak. It was perfectly preserved, so they closed the lid and returned it to the earth.

Unfortunately, the broken seal allowed water to seep into the capsule in the weeks before the ceremony. Many of the papers were soggy and illegible, but the other items — such as a flashlight, a TV Guide, a bobby pin, a rubber band and a pencil sharpener — were mostly intact.