Barry Saunders

What to put in a 1967 time capsule? My 10-year-old self has some thoughts

Perhaps the people who buried that Raleigh time capsule on June 8, 1967 should have first seen “The Graduate,” the hot new movie of that year.

I’ve got just one word for them: plastics.

When giving career advice to the movie’s protagonist, Benjamin Braddock, an avuncular neighbor named Mr. McGuire took Benjamin poolside and told him that in a new material called plastic there was “a great future.”

Because plastic is impervious to water, it might have also helped better preserve a great past – the past that was dug up last week at North Hills.

Like everyone else, I waited with bated breath – don’t knock it: bates are known to be a good source of protein and taste great with cinnamon – to see what the long-buried cylinder held when it was disinterred and opened in front of hundreds of people and what used to be the Cardinal Theater.

The final “reveal” was fascinating, yet anti-climactic. Water seepage over the decades had rendered the contents a soupy, goopy, barely legible stew.

I asked Bonner Gaylord, managing director of property management for Kane Realty, the company that owns North Hills, how much of the buried booty was decipherable – good luck, for instance, playing that liquidy audio reel – and was told “everything (save one item preserved in a new technology – a plastic bag) was damaged, and we are working with the N.C. Archives to remediate any damage and preserve the items” as well as possible.

My most enduring memory of 1967 is of going to the movies with two pals – at least I thought they were pals – to see “Bonnie & Clyde.” The motion picture rating system didn’t start until the next year, and 10-year-olds were permitted in to see bloodfests such as that as long as they had a quarter.

The movie was good, but the unforgettable part is that Henry and Darrell went to get popcorn during the movie and never came back.

One can’t put such a memory in a time capsule, but there were a few things from that year that would’ve fit if I’d had one.

First in my hermetically sealed time capsule from 1967 would’ve been my an electric football game, the one in which the players were propelled downfield by the vibrating metal field.

Primitive? Sure, but I’d love to put one in the hands of a Madden video-game-addicted 10-year-old today.

Next into the capsule would’ve been a pack of Now and Laters or any others of the genus of candies that we purchased not based on taste alone, but also on how long it took to chew them. Included in that family were Squirrel Nut Zippers, Bit-O-Honeys and Mary Janes. An hour after you ate them, you might still find a chunk in your teeth – if you were lucky.

Now and Laters cost a nickel at King’s Grocery and were so named because you theoretically could eat some now and save some for later. Mine never made it to later.

We undoubtedly would have stuck some of those bad boys in there for the flight to the future.

Aretha’s “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You” album?

Ditto. It should’ve been obvious even in 1967 that people 50 years hence would want to hear her anthemic “Respect,” with her sisters in the background going “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me.”

Indeed, you can put that in the time capsule to be opened in 2067 or 2117. Make sure you put in the album, though, not some CD or mp3. Call me if you can’t find a turntable.

Next in my time capsule would’ve been a well-wrapped copy of the the Richmond County Daily Journal, my hometown paper that I still think was the best small-town daily ever published. It had a fearless publisher in J. Neal Cadieu, and four small-town journalism giants. Glenn Sumpter was the editor, and Bert Unger, Clark Cox and Catherine Monk were the reporters who provided a daily afternoon fix for a 10-year-old news junkie.

Fifteen years later, when I got a chance to work with them, I was still awed.

It was also in 1967 that a pretty little girl named Valerie moved to Rockingham. She sat in front of me in Miss Fulton’s fifth-grade class, and one day a barrette fell from her hair. Like some prepubescent Sir Galahad, I rushed over to pick it up and was prepared to hand it to her, but somehow it ended up in my pocket. The statute of limitations on barrette theft has expired, so I can now confess that I kept it for a loooooooong time – I’m embarrassed to say how long – caressing it, sniffing it, examining it the way an archaeologist examines a new life form.

Definitely toss that barrette in there, homes.

I don’t know which TV shows from 2017 we’d want future generations to know we watched, but I confess that some of the top shows from 1967 are on my DVR right now: “Green Acres,” “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “My Three Sons.”

Of course, we’ll never know who thought, even in 1967, that a TV show about a boy with a pet bear – “Gentle Ben” – was a good idea.

They’ll be asking the same thing in 2067 about “2 Broke Girls,” I’ll bet.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9