Mildew mixes with artifacts as time capsule is opened
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Peter Kern, a member of the Palmerton Area Heritage Center, rummages through the memorabilia that had been inside the Time Capsule that was buried in the Palmerton Borough Park nearly 25 years ago. Here, Kern is shown holding a copy of the TIMES NEWS from that time period that was found inside.
And with that, the remnants of 25 years worth of memorabilia were uncovered Monday from a Time Capsule that had been entombed in the Palmerton Borough Park.
Representatives of the Palmerton Area Historical Society, assisted by members of the Aquashicola Fire Company, under the direction of Rory Koons, opened up the relic in the borough garage.
Peter Kern, Heritage Center member, said the Time Capsule had been welded shut by the New Jersey Zinc Co. in 1988, and then buried about 8-feet deep in the borough park.
In what would prove to be a precursor of things to come, Kern said a mason jar, with a letter enclosed inside from Joseph Plechavy Sr, was found near the Time Capsule. The jar was wet, as water had gotten inside, he said.
"It was not water tight; it looked like it was," Kern said. "The mason jar was sealed with a gasket, and was wrapped multiple times in tin foil, but probably should have had waxed seal."
As for the contents that were retrieved from the Time Capsule, Kern said they "were found to be in various states of mildewing and damage."
As a result, he said the Heritage Center is not in a position at this point in time to put the materials on public display.
"There were few, if any, artifacts in here," said Kern, who noted it took the fire company over an hour to open the Time Capsule with the use of grinding equipment. "We did it that way to minimize any damage to the contents."
Kern added "we did not find standing water inside, but, obviously water had gotten into it at some time. The degree it mildewed suggested it had probably happened years ago."
Concealed inside were packets from various schools and churches in the area, as well as organizations such as Visiting Nurse and the Palmerton Concourse Club; about 40 8 1/2-by-11 large sealed envelopes that contained various messages from those groups; several videotapes; Palmerton Telephone directories; and a copy of one 1987 and one 1988 Palmerton Area High School yearbook that were heavily mildewed, Kern said.
"We're going to go through it and try to salvage some type of value," he said. "The Heritage Center is cataloging and trying to salvage what we can."
The Time Capsule was dug up last week by Matt Lang, of Lang's Landscaping & Tree Service, Palmerton, to coincide with the start of construction of the Palmerton Veterans' Memorial, which will be built in the lower southwest corner of the park.
Designed by Warren E. Siegmond and built by the New Jersey Zinc Co., the rocket is a 15-foot time capsule named the S.S. Palmer Enterprise that was originally buried in the park on Oct. 8, 1988.
The centennial celebration will be held on Oct. 14, 2012. The borough was officially incorporated on Oct. 14, 1912.