Richfield Elementary Time Capsule Found After 45 Years

The Richfield Elementary class of 1975-1976 discovered a time capsule originally for the class of 2000.

Sydney McDonald, Assistant Feature Editor

Many people can remember putting their favorite toys or trinkets inside a time capsule and burying it inside a school lot to dig up and recover for the memories many years later. However, some children may become too impatient and unearth it years before they were supposed to. Luckily, the class of 1975-76 of Hillcrest Elementary left the time capsule untouched for the class of 2000. Even though the intended class never received it, it eventually ended up with Richfield Elementary School in 2020; children of the class from this year were able to see the items left from nearly half a century ago. 

Students found multiple items in the capsule such as letters for the future, baseball cards and photos. Former Revere music teacher Mary Ryan remembers the creation of the time capsule as she nearly put an item in it.

“I was going to put a 45 rpm record in the capsule—we played ‘records’ to listen to music in ‘76—but for some reason, I didn’t,” Ryan said. 

Some of the items included an American-themed plate and letters from multiple fourth and fifth grade classes. At the time, Ryan was teaching at the original Richfield Elementary. This school, located across from the Richfield United Church of Christ at the time, closed in 1994 before its later demolition. A teacher named Karen Snyder Newman wanted to create this time capsule at Richfield in 1976. Ryan remembered the time capsule being locked on May 25th, her birthday. Unfortunately, administrators never had the chance to bury the time capsule. 

“We put it on the top shelf of one of the bookshelves in the school library where it remained until 1994 when Revere closed the school,” Ryan said. 

Before the demolition, staff still taught preschool classes in the school, although it was closed down, and a custodian at the time, DeWayne Dillon, moved the time capsule from the library to his office. 

Ryan recalls that in late July 2001, around the intended date for the time capsule to be opened, she and other community members met to open it. 

“About a hundred people: [several of the Richfield staff members, former students, parents and community members,] met in the Richfield gym to open the time capsule,” Ryan said. 

Ryan said that the items in the box were preserved very well and that she especially enjoyed seeing the class photos. After this opening, the staff intended to donate it to the Richfield Historical Museum. The staff never managed to deliver it.

Communications Specialist for the Revere District Jennifer Reece received the time capsule from the Richfield Recreation Department. At the time, there were plans to tear down the Richfield Recreation Department, and Assistant Fire Chief George Seifert found the box and gave it to Reece. Beforehand, she had no idea about this time capsule. 

“Since there was no social media or websites when it was opened the first time, not a lot of people knew about it,” Reece said. 

Luckily, Seifert was associated with Revere and knew to return the time capsule to the elementary school. 

“One of our former Board members [Seifert] was involved with cleaning out the former Richfield Recreation Department and found the time capsule there,” Reece said. 

Soon, the Richfield Elementary Administration had ownership of the time capsule. The school’s principal Anthony Stretar and other staff members put the items on display in the school’s library. Looking at what is inside, kids of the fourth and fifth grade classes of 75’-76’ wrote what the future may hold. One student wrote quite an accurate response, Stretar pointed out. 

“‘I think this school will have a TV screen instead of a blackboard,’ they got right. Smart boards [replaced with ] Apple TVs. It’s funny what they thought the year 2000 was going to look like,” Stretar said. 

The current students of Richfield Elementary  also decided to do a time capsule, Stretar mentioned. Looking between what was put in the time capsule then and what could be put it now, the difference is likely to be very large. 

“We’re trying to figure out what to do with our [time capsule]; obviously we need to put a mask in,” Stretar said. 

Suppose students created a time capsule now and in the future, new generations of students found it, how would they look at the popular items of our time? Would the pandemic be one in their history books? Brought to light nearly 45 years after the creation the time capsule of the Richfield classes of ‘75 and ‘76 showed the students a look into the past and revealed interesting cultural changes.