Among the items found in a time capsule buried 50 years ago was a typed letter from Durham’s then mayor to a future mayor.
On Monday night, Mayor Pro-tem Cora Cole-McFadden read the letter found in the capsule buried at what was then the Center Theater but is now the permanent home of The Scrap Exchange in the Lakewood shopping center.
City leaders laughed as the letter talked about challenges the city still faces today, such as making sure people have adequate housing and the need for a traffic study.
The letter also referenced the Durham Police Department headquarters, which had recently opened on West Chapel Hill Street. The city plans to replace that building with a controversial new headquarters on East Main Street.
City Councilman Eddie Davis said letter writer R.W. Grabarek, mayor from 1963 to 1971 and now in his late 90s, still lives in Durham.
Grabarek came into office amid civil rights demonstrations in the city.
“He did a lot of outreach that led to the desegregation of a lot of the eateries,” Davis said. His efforts also to contributed to the integrations of the Carolina Theatre. “He was able to pull together a lot of people who normally didn’t talk to each other.”
Here is the entire content of the letter:
Dear Mr. Mayor,
Thank you for permitting me this trespass.
I have some feeling for the daily demands upon your time, and I am especially aware of the volume of mail directed to you which you must read and attend. The purpose of this letter, then, is to provide you with a respite as I dip into the future to convey to you friendly greetings from the past.
In the course of your official concerns there may well be a moments of displeasure with your prior peers. I do hope this be not unduly so. For we are enthusiastically, sincerely, and purposefully doing what we can to add a little something to the sum total of human joy and happiness.
Presently, we are working on projects aimed to help our people, and I trust, your people, too. We are much involved in problems of air pollution, raw water supply, adequate and decent housing, residential as well as central business district revitalization, traffic study and expressway construction, additional hospital facilities, a new library, recreational program development and many others.
These are extremely exciting times for us and we gratefully recognize and accept the various challenges before us. Incidentally the new Police and Fire Headquarters buildings, dedicated just a while ago, were built to last about fifty (50) years. Will they last through your administration?
Of course, you are confronted with the needs and problems of your day. In the meantime, we want so very much for our decisions today to be found in league with the future so that when you read this letter you will conclude that, indeed, the past acclaims our future. In any event, for allowing us this intrusion, we excuse you for not answering this letter.
With kindest personal regards to you and yours and all the people of the wonderful City of Durham, I remain