Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, May 22, 2000

Time capsule's contents destroyed, but memories linger

By Andrea Vargo

"We hit a cement chunk under the granite marker. We could hear it was hollow when we tapped on it," HLWW Superintendent Riley Hoheisel told a group of former Howard Lake students Wednesday.

He referred to the dig for the time capsule that was buried by the school in 1935.

Most of the former students who attended are senior citizens, now, and they came back to Howard Lake for the ceremony to open the time capsule.

The actual dig for the capsule was last Monday, and Hoheisel went on to describe what happened.

The school's skid steer was used to move the cement chunk to the rear of the school, where it was cracked open with sledge hammers.

Inside the ball of cement was a wooden fruit crate, and inside that a cast box. When the box was opened, it was clear that moisture had virtually destroyed everything, he said.

Since many people were coming in from out-of-town, Hoheisel said the decision was made to go ahead with the reception after school and display the box, its ruined contents, and two medals that were somewhat recognizable.

People were encouraged to share memories of the school or anything they could remember about the time capsule.

Dorothy Workman-Mitchell said "I remember that my dad was president of the PTA.

"The PTA had raffles to buy a vacant lot (where the parking lot is now) for a playground for the kids.

"The time capsule was a fundraiser. It was on the glass counter at the drug store, and people could look at it. (They could) drop coins into a jar," she said.

Richard Smith said he has a collection of Indianhead pennies. He has every one except the one from 1938.

He did put a penny in the 1935 capsule, and if anyone can find it in that rusted pile of stuff, it is worth about $10,000, he said.

Smith also remembered fire drills at the Howard Lake school. In the high school office hangs a painting of the original school house. On the outside is a fire escape chute.

"I used to like going down that chute during fire drills," he said.

Mary Smith is the granddaughter of Alan "Jake" Patrick, who was the janitor at Howard Lake for 45 years.

She remembers that after the capsule was buried, the teacher took them inside and wrote 2000 on the blackboard, then she wrote 1935. The class then did some math and learned how to borrow numbers for subtraction, she said.

Her grandpa, Jake, dug the original hole for the time capsule.

"Some of you probably remember, too. As students came in the door, Jake would say, 'Wipe your feet, wipe your feet,'" she said.

Jake was apparently a popular man and was related to many of the former students who came to the reception, as there were many memories of him shared.

Gordon Diers, class of 1943, shared a letter he received from David Eddy, who moved to Alaska in the early 1940s.

It read, "You mentioned the time capsule. I remember when they buried it. I sacrificed an Eversharp pencil (white), temporarily. I expected to get it back when they opened it.

"I have been thinking that it was dug up and discarded when they built the new building over the spot or just left it there and built over it.

"If you are there when they open it, and they are going to discard the contents, please claim my white pencil for me. I figured on getting it back when I put it in there."

Unfortunately, there was nothing that resembled an Eversharp pencil in the mass of rusted and damp items.

To a lot of laughter, Bill Patrick, grandson of Jake, said, "I was three and a half, and I remember clearly, it was me and my grandpa who put it in the ground."

There were reasonably kind and joking references to Bill's memory.

A former teacher (1941-47), Alegra Lundee-Smith told how Jake introduced her to his grandson, Vernon Smith. Alegra and Vernon are married, now (actually, for a very long time).

Alegra was credited by Donna Bowers for casting her in a play, "Anne of Green Gables," with Harlan Adickes. He started taking her home after the play, and they eventually married.

"Oh, that worked even back then," said Hoheisel.

Hoheisel did cause some laughter when he told the crowd that even though he is younger than most of them, he still attended a country school for a year and walked a mile to school.

"Uphill both ways," said a voice.

"As a matter of fact, it was going home," laughed Hoheisel.

This sparked a bit of humor, as anyone who went to a country school was sure to add that he/she walked a mile, uphill both ways.

Added to the humorous memories was that of Bill Payfer.

"We went out to play for recess one day, when I was in the first grade. Ken Weber and another kid that was bigger than I was, locked me in the garage of a home by the school.

"It took me an hour and a half to get out, and I thought for sure I was going to be expelled. I was really scared," he said.

Orville Smith related his favorite story.

"This auditorium has a lot of memories for me," he said.

"When I was helping decorate it for the 1947 prom, with my usual grace, I stepped through a glass skylight and fell 30 feet to the floor."

Orville neglected to tell why he was on the roof of the auditorium.

The group felt another time capsule should be put together, and this time, located in a safe place.

The old one should be on display just as it is in a case, they decided.

Some of the people who attended the reception were:

1928 Mildred Brewster

1938 - Dorothy Workman, Ida Blanchette, and Thelma Mellin

1950 - Harlan Adickes and Donna Bowers,

1951 - Everett Smith and Elaine Frank

1940 - Willis Mellin

1942 - Alvin Mellin

1943 - Gordon Diers and Dale Smith

1942 - Helen Hoover, Dorothy Hoover, Betty Hoover, Maxine Bowers

1948 - Jerome Rasmussen

1946 - Betty Rasmussen

1974 - Margaret Stoll

1993 - Kelly Weber and children

Others - Richard Smith and son, Richard Smith, Mary Smith, Dick Payfer, Vernon Smith and wife Alegra, plus their daughter Molly and granddaughter Janet, Orville Smith, Pat Diers, Bill Patrick, Judy Probst, Ward Payfer, Martha Payfer, and former superintendent Fred Nus.

Nus said he has the record for having the superintendent's job the longest, 16 years.

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