Former Hamilton Elementary students, teachers dig up time capsule

pramati@macon.comDecember 9, 2013 

Twenty-seven years after they buried a time capsule, former students and faculty members of the now-closed Eugenia Hamilton Elementary School unearthed a treasure trove of memories Monday.

About 30 people gathered Monday morning to unseal what they buried in 1986.

The sealed-away memories -- mostly handmade scrapbooks of children’s drawings, writings and pictures -- ended up being secondary to the feeling of camaraderie among the former students and their teachers.

“It’s a very special day for me,” said Jonathan Glover, 40, a Macon-Bibb County firefighter who was in sixth grade when the capsule was buried. “I see a lot of old faces of friends and teachers. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

Michelle Martin Gowan, who works with the gifted learning program for the Bibb County school system, came up with the idea for a time capsule to commemorate Halley’s Comet passing by Earth in 1986 when she was a first-year teacher at Hamilton. All of the classes at the school were involved with the project.

“I thought the time capsule was a good way to remember,” she said. “It would timestamp the way the world was back in ‘86.”

Myrtice C. Johnson, who was principal at the time, said the then first-year teacher always came up with out-of-the-box ideas.

“Michelle was always into something with wild ideas,” Johnson said. “I knew it would be something that would be beneficial to the children, so I let her run with it. ... She had the entire school working on it. They collected books, pictures, everything during that time.”

The booklets inside the capsule covered topics such as sports, fashion, favorite toys and other cultural things representing the time. The children included everything from sports stars of the day such as Julius Erving and the Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears to their favorite things about Macon, which included Macon Mall and cherry blossoms.

The capsule also included a letter from then-Mayor George Israel and a copy of the March 6, 1986, edition of The Macon Telegraph & News. Local businesses donated the steel box for the capsule as well as the capsule’s vault. When they pulled them out Monday morning, the items sealed inside were dry and undamaged.

The capsule originally was supposed to be opened in 2000, but Gowan said there wasn’t a lot of interest back then. Besides, a flagpole and sidewalk obstructed the location where the capsule was buried.

Since then, however, many of the students got together through Facebook and decided the time was right.

Tamika Sandifer-Oliver, a fifth-grade student of Gowan’s who helped organize Monday’s gathering by reaching out to her former schoolmates through Facebook, said the day brought back memories for everyone.

“A lot of them wanted to remember what they put in it,” she said. “There were a lot of others who wanted to be here, but they couldn’t get off work. (Gowan) had a very big impact on everyone. ... Everything was just creative.”

Some things haven’t changed in the 27 years since the capsule was buried. When several of the former students jogged over to the location where the capsule was buried to take a picture, Johnson couldn’t help but call out “Tuck your shirts in!”

Hamilton Elementary closed in 2008, although it was used as a temporary home for Ingram-Pye Elementary students in 2009 while the new Ingram-Pye was being built.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service