DUPONT — Borough residents were hoping to have a blast from the past on Sept. 19, but came up empty-handed.
Dupont officials and residents gathered at the Ben Franklin Elementary School at 611 Walnut St. to uncover a time capsule buried in front of the school in 1976. Enclosed in the capsule were various items from the school’s students such as letters to their future selves.
The group came up with an old aluminum container that resembled the capsule, but it was shredded and in poor condition. All of its contents were gone.
“We’re very disappointed that they didn’t find anything,” said Susan Urbanski, 47, who was in third grade when the capsule was buried. “It was built to stand the test of time, so I don’t think it’s all gone.”
The school closed in July 2013 after being open for over 50 years when Pittston Area School Board members voted to have all school district kindergarten students attend the Pittston Primary Center.
Bob Price, chairman of the Dupont Progress Committee, which is uncovering history for the upcoming Dupont Centennial in 2017, said the idea to dig up the capsule was presented during the Dupont History Day back in May.
“The first couple of people through the door were teachers of the Ben Franklin Elementary School, and they told me about the time capsule and had the newspaper article showing where it was buried,” Price said. “They’d been trying for years to get it dug back up and get everything going, but never got anywhere. At the time, the borough was in the process of buying the building and we got ownership of it. I talked to the mayor and council and here we are.”
Martina Satkowski-Ryder, 66, of Harding, who taught third grade at the school, was on hand. She said the time capsule was a project for the school’s students.
“This was one of our bicentennial projects,” she said. “The students participated in many projects and this was just one. Every class decided what they should put in the time capsule. It was supposed to be dug up in 1986, but most of the teachers at that time were gone, so it didn’t happen.”
After opening remarks from Price and Dupont Mayor Dan Lello, Satkowski-Ryder and fellow former teacher Eleanor Kuligowski were given the opportunity to dig the first hole.
From there, a bulldozer took care of the remainder of the digging, with help from various Dupont Progress Committee members.
After 45 minutes of digging, the aluminum container was found, and the committee members believed it was the capsule because it resembled an old newspaper photo showing the capsule before it was buried.
Progress committee officials believe that, after nearly 40 years of being buried, the capsule withered away with any paper within it disintegrating. An old mason jar and an old pen cap were also found.
Along with Urbanski, her sister Kim Urbanski-Ruda, 50, was on hand to help. Urbanski-Ruda was in fifth grade when the capsule was buried.
Both said they contributed something to the capsule.
“Our class put in what we wanted to be when we grew up,” said Kim. “I said I wanted to be a gymnast. I didn’t become one.”
Both expressed disappointment that nothing was found, but believe what was uncovered might not be the capsule and that it is still buried.
Price said he is not sure if the container found was the capsule. Someday, someone else might come along and find something, he added.
“It was a good community event and we got everyone out to get some interest in Dupont and its centennial upcoming,” said Price. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find anything in the ground. Time has taken its toll on it. But we had a great afternoon, I mean, who knows? Maybe someday someone will come to dig up the sidewalks and they’ll find something.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher