‘I have no idea what’s in there’

| 27 Apr 2017 | 03:14

Kids who buried a time capsule 50 years ago will unearth it

By Becca Tucker

Paul Myrow digs things up for a living. But when the geology professor travels from Colorado College to Warwick this August, he’ll be on a different kind of excavation.

Myrow is one of 20 people who placed something into a time capsule 50 years ago, when he was eight or nine. And he’ll be among 10 expected to return to Veterans Memorial Park in Warwick dig it back up on August 5, at 10 a.m., as the culmination of the town’s sesquicentennial celebration. (“Really the public works is going to dig it up, then they’ll have a couple shovels” to finish the job, clarified George Arnott, who’s heading the time capsule committee.)

Myrow has no idea what he put in the capsule, a big metal canister that resembles a bomb. “I thought I wrote something. It’s going to be interesting to see what 9-year-old Paul would have been interested in putting in there.”

“We all got a certificate that my father framed and I have in my house. I carried this thing around with me for the last 50 years, for some dumb reason. I always thought about it. Just recently I looked at the folks and then looked at my own picture and it was quite a thrill.”

When he heard from Arnott, a retired Warwick policeman, inviting him to come back for a mixer and the big dig, Myrow was not surprised.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that someday I would go back to Warwick and go to this thing,” said Myrow. “It was a very small town back then, only about five, six thousand people, and you basically knew everybody.”

Arnott has relied on his policeman’s sleuthing skills – with some help from Facebook – to track down the young people in the 50-year-old photo with names written on the back. “I got ahold of most of those kids,” he said. “Some didn’t want to be found.” (Reading the letter that each child, or “trustee,” received, it’s not hard to imagine why some folks might not be rearranging their summer plans around the sesquicentennial. It’s a bit on the hectoring side: “We, the members of the Warwick Valley Centennial, hope that the handling of your duties as members of this Board of Trustees will be a tribute to us for selecting you as outstanding citizens of Warwick, New York in 2017.” No pressure.)

Then there’s the mysterious big guy in the back row, middle. He looks like he’s orchestrating the whole thing, but “he’s the only one that nobody can identify,” said Arnott.

The photo looks much older than it is. That’s because everyone is dressed in period garb, in honor of the signing of the charter that created Warwick Village in 1867. It wasn’t just for the photo, either.

Myrow’s grandfather owned Gilvan’s Department Store, which his father later took over and ran until the 1990s. “That year, I remember all the people that worked in the department store got dressed up in late 1800s garb. They grew handlebar mustaches. It was a big sort of production downtown,” said Myrow. “I remember them closing off the Main Street and having bands playing that year.”

Arnott, too, remembers being amazed by the buy-in. “I’ve seen a lot of events. I know Applefest is nice. But that event – they hired an outside agency, even then. That was their job to do.

“I’ve never seen a community come together” like that, he said. “They wore period costumes, and they grew mustaches, beards, and if they were without a hat or mustache they got fined and paid wooden nickels that people had to buy.”

You’ve still got time to grow that handlebar if you’re feeling it, but the costumes probably won’t be as big a feature this time. There will, however, be a couple special guests who weren’t part of the original 1967 crew: the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Warwick, England, married couple Christine and Stephen Cross. There’s speculation that our Warwick is named after theirs, and although the link’s not definitive, who really cares? It’ll be fun. Apparently Stephen Cross is a military buff, said Arnott, who might enjoy a tour of West Point. They may also bring something from a medieval castle in their Warwick to put in the new time capsule, to be buried in the same spot and dug up in 2067.