A scout group is doing its part to preserve local history with plans for a time capsule to be placed in downtown Mount Airy.
The project is being spearheaded by Cub Scout Pack 538, based at First Baptist Church of Mount Airy, which contains members of the Webelos stage around the fourth- and fifth-grade level who are preparing to become Boy Scouts. Those youths seek to earn an adventure pin for a project that involves “looking back and looking forward.”
Discussions about pursuing some effort tied to that theme led to the idea for a time capsule, according to Jessica Bolick Cockerham, a den volunteer and mother of a Webelos scout, Jason Cockerham, 10. She recently appeared before the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners requesting that it be placed on city property, in Canteen Alley on North Main Street.
“The time capsule is a perfect way to show community support through our youth in the Cub Scouts and give these young minds a sense of community importance this town stands behind,” states a formal request from Cockerham to the commissioners.
They unanimously approved the request during their meeting on Dec. 7, after Cockerham addressed logistical questions commissioners had about the effort.
The value of a time capsule is historical in nature, containing goods or information basically intended to allow people in a future generation to gain an idea of what life was like at an earlier time. This can serve as a unique communication link between the two.
Normally, items placed inside the capsule remain sealed until a specified time when it is to be opened, 30 years in the case of the one planned by the Cub Scouts.
Cockerham said Friday that the capsule will contain items such as a copy of the local newspaper, a contemporary magazine and other materials including a scouting handbook of today. She thinks it will reflect many changes compared to the manual 30 years into the future, thus giving those opening the capsule a unique perspective of the past.
It was mentioned during the meeting that time capsules already exist in the downtown area, including a 50-year one placed at the Mount Airy War Memorial when it was erected in 1985 which is to be unsealed in 18 years.
Commissioner Dean Brown also believes that a time capsule was embedded in a cornerstone of the city post office when it was constructed in the early 1930s.
That reflects a traditional practice regarding time capsules being created and buried during the laying of cornerstones for important buildings or celebrations of special events.
The questions Cockerham fielded from the commissioners at last week’s meeting mainly centered on how the time capsule now planned will be placed and secured.
She explained that it will be an above-ground monument container with an engraved lid, housing a composite airtight and weatherproof cylinder.
“Of course, we’re going to use Mount Airy granite,” the scouting volunteer said of the white variety seen at houses, walls and other structures locally.
The monument housing the capsule will be nearly 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, weighing more than 1,000 pounds. Yet it won’t be entirely stationary. “It can be picked up and moved if need be,” Cockerham said.
However, entering the sealed compartment protected by the engraved nameplate will be a different story.
“They’re going to make it to where you can’t get into it,” Cockerham said of installers, adding that its eventual opening in 30 years will require the services of a monument company.
Canteen Alley, a recently refurbished park area downtown with a restored Coke mural as its main feature, was the first choice for the time capsule because of the developments that have taken place there and its central location.
Cockerham said the container and capsule will cost $2,500 to $3,000 and require no city funding.
The commissioners seemed impressed with the concept, which was reflected in their unanimous vote.
“It sounds like she did an excellent job preparing,” Commissioner Shirley Brinkley said of Cockerham.
Based on the presentation, a capsule ceremony will accompany its placement, which could occur as early as March.
Cockerham said this would allow Webelos scouts to earn pins for the project before they advance to the Boy Scout level in June.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.