It may not be up there alongside the world’s greatest mysteries — things like the Da Vinci Code, the Bermuda Triangle, or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the unveiling committee is still wondering — what happened with the Time Capsule?
It was supposed to be safely ensconced behind the commemorative plaque at the northwest corner of the Riverbank Community Center, placed there 50 years ago when the building was dedicated, in 1968.
When city crews earlier this month went to prepare for the opening of the container, so that the anniversary event wouldn’t drag out while it was being uncovered, what they uncovered instead was a mystery. They were able to go into the hidden space from inside the Community Center. But when they opened up the wall, they were surprised to find the box behind the plaque there, with an open end, showing that nothing was inside. No time capsule.
The find puts somewhat of a damper on the festivities planned for this Saturday, Aug. 17, the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Center.
Originally, the organizing committee, a partnership between the City of Riverbank and the Historical Society, planned a splashy recovery of the capsule, opening and displaying its contents. They expected to show off what was placed inside, demonstrating what city residents and officials thought was representative of life in 1968.
The opening was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by a public display of the contents inside the Center. It was to be followed by a dinner and dancing from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Last week, the committee decided to put behind them the fault for the loss, deciding it could have happened as long ago as in the first year, or as recently as last month. They chose to move ahead with the dinner-dance, since it was intended as a fundraiser, to be split between the city and the Historical Society, who would add their portion to the fund created to build an annex to the museum in downtown. So the dining and dancing will go on as scheduled, celebrating the 50 years of the Community Center, with a toast to the next 50 happening sometime during the evening.
Remodeling of the Center, with improvements, adjustments and modifications planned, is to begin in September. When it is time to rededicate the upgraded building, they hope to have gathered memorabilia and other items from the community, both present day and from around 1968, to put in another time capsule.
To be opened in another 50 years.
It was learned at the committee meeting that city staff has located the minutes of the original committee meetings back in the summer of 1968. One page notes final plans for the dedication ceremony, which included a dinner and dance, with music by Los Gilgueros, a Mariachi Band, and by the Hank De Coito Band, to play music of the era.
Another note indicates some of the items to be put in the Cornerstone Time Capsule: A copy of the project proposal, pictures of the various stages of construction, messages from each councilman and the mayor, and copies of the Aug. 17, 1968 issues of the Riverbank News, the Riverbank Independent (a rival paper published at the time), and the Modesto Bee.