By Marlena Hartz: Freedom Newspapers
The star of the show was a rusty metal cylinder.
An audience gathered in an arc around the aged tube and watched as men slammed it with a sledgehammer, slid it into a vice and pried open its top.
Inside, hugged by cardboard that crumbled when touched, were mementos from the year 1957 — tattered newspapers, documents, a commemorative booklet.
The capsule was sealed 50 years ago in celebration of the golden anniversary of Clovis. Dignitaries buried it in front of what was then the Clovis City Hall and what is now a fire station on Mitchell Street.
It was unearthed and opened by dignitaries Friday in the first event of a year-long celebration of Clovis’ 100th anniversary. About 100 people attended the event.
“What we are today, I believe, is a reflection of what we were then,” said Clovis Mayor David Lansford, moments before the capsule was unearthed.
Lansford said Clovis is defined by its residents’ work ethic and sense of family and community.
“Our challenge is to remain a community we are all proud to call home,” Lansford said.
The township of Clovis was established in 1907 by officials from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. They chose the wide, flat and largely vacant area to be the central maintenance and lodging location for their new transcontinental railroad route, which cut through central New Mexico.
In its temporary grave, the contents of the time capsule weren’t immune to age. One piece of paper was so molded and decayed it was unreadable. The documents, which included a record of a city meeting about the Clovis Municipal Airport and the 1957 city payroll, were moist and discolored.
“I don’t want to damage it (contents of capsule),” said Lansford as he peeled away the cardboard tube that was wrapped around two June 1957 editions of the Clovis News-Journal.
The capsule and its contents will be displayed at the Clovis-Carver Public Library, according to Raymond Mondragon, chairman of Clovis’ 100th Anniversary Committee.
Officials plan to bury a capsule in October that reflects life in 2007. Lansford said a cellular phone, a 100th anniversary pin and photographs will be sealed inside the capsule.
Six silica air dryer packets — The packets are used to absorb moisture. They were mistaken for tea bags upon first inspection Friday.
June 5, 1957, edition of the Clovis News-Journal — In 1957, a weekday edition of the Clovis News-Journal cost 5 cents. A Sunday edition cost 10 cents.
June 7, 1957, edition of the Clovis News-Journal — The top headline in the paper was “Clovis Celebrating Golden Anniversary.”
Clovis 50th Anniversary Booklet — This golden-colored booklet was a “souvenir edition,” its cover reads, and was found wrapped inside the newspapers.
Documents from the city of Clovis — Several pages of city documents, once stapled together, give a glimpse into the operation of the city around 1957. The assessed value of the city was $16.3 million in 1956, one document reads. The city manager was paid $500 per month and the fire chief was paid $375 per month, according to a copy of the city payroll.
Unidentifiable piece of paper — This piece of paper is so tattered and aged it’s unreadable.