Whately time capsule preserves ‘snapshot’ of 2022 for future residents

  • Whately’s 2022 time capsule, which was buried next to the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library on Wednesday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • The co-chairs of the Whately 250th Anniversary Committee Susan Baron, with the 1971 time capsule, and Keith Bardwell, with the 2022 time capsule, in the side yard of the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library where the capsules were buried on Wednesday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Whately’s time capsule from 1971 was reburied with the 2022 time capsule next to the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library on Wednesday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Susan Baron hands the 1971 time capsule to Keith Bardwell to be placed next to the 2022 time capsule in the side yard of the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library on Wednesday. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2022 4:44:42 PM
Modified: 8/3/2022 4:41:34 PM

WHATELY — In 2071, future residents will dig up not one, but two time capsules.

Highway Superintendent and 250th Anniversary Committee Co-Chair Keith Bardwell spent part of Wednesday afternoon digging a nearly 8-foot hole next to the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library to place the newest time capsule next to the one that was buried at Whately’s bicentennial celebration in 1971.

“I think everyone wants to leave their mark,” explained Susan Baron, the other co-chair of the 250th Anniversary Committee. “This is a great way to do it.”

Vacuum sealed and welded shut, Whately’s 250th anniversary time capsule contains a variety of town memorabilia and souvenirs. Among those included are 50 pictures of notable places in town, letters from Whately Elementary School students, a list of current residents’ addresses, the town’s annual report, menus from the Whately Inn and Whately Diner, a copy of Frontier Regional School’s 2022 graduation story printed in the Greenfield Recorder and — perhaps the most poignant sign of the times — a face mask, which Baron said needed to be included considering the anniversary celebration was pushed back a year due to COVID-19.

“We wanted things people could look back on and be like, ‘What was it like?’” Baron said as Bardwell was filling the hole. “We wanted a snapshot of Whately in 2022.”

Speaking about the 50 photos included, Baron noted one example featured the current one-lane bridge on Christian Lane, which is expected to stay that way for at least another half-decade or more due to repairs.

“I call it the good, the bad and the ugly — they’re not all glamour shots,” Baron said. “They’re all places people would remember from today.”

The 2022 time capsule was designed and built by Franklin County Technical School senior Emily Whitney and sophomore Patrick Gray, along with their instructor, John Passiglia. It joins the 1971 time capsule, which contains a silver bicentennial medal and 168 letters from Whately schoolchildren.

Baron said they registered the time capsule with the International Time Capsule Society, which keeps a library collection of time capsules from around the world.

The burying of the time capsule marks the tying of one of the few major loose ends left by the town’s 250th celebration. As Bardwell covered up the two capsules — marked by a stone on the library’s lawn — he and Baron reflected on the anniversary and the way it brought Whately together.

“It was fantastic. People have literally stopped me on the street to tell me it was amazing,” Baron said of the 10 days of events in June, plus the birthday parade and lighting of a giant birthday cake, the two events that were possible in 2021. “There was so much more enthusiasm than we could have hoped for.”

Bardwell noted his father helped coordinate the 200th anniversary festivities and his grandfather worked on previous celebrations before that.

“It’s been a pleasure to keep that going,” he said. “It’s a nice tribute to the town of Whately.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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