21 years later: Taking the lid off the Sebastopol time capsule

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, October 4, 2021

time capsule sebastopol

Digging up the time capsule. (Photo Camille Escovedo)

Maybe there’s no time like the present, but there’s also nothing like exploring a haul delivered through history in a metal drum, Y2K and all. Around 20 people flocked to the front of the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce & Visitor’s Center late Saturday morning, Oct. 2, to see mementos stowed away in an underground time capsule since 2000.

Locals leaned forward and peered over shoulders to see laminated papers, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, a cookbook, a bottle of Topolo’s wine and a few glasses, posters and more pulled out from beneath a trove of Styrofoam peanuts.

Many relics came up browned and dripping from water damage over the past 21 years, some illegible despite the clear efforts to protect them from the elements. They were all laid out on the sidewalk to be seen and sifted through before going into the visitor’s center, where a fan would dry the materials to salvage as much as possible.

A couple attendees brought items to store for the future in case the opportunity arose to place them in the upcoming time capsule, such as a miniature pink recycling bin, a city face mask and, of course, a roll of toilet paper.

Executive Director Linda Collins said the chamber has yet to decide when the next time capsule will be lowered into the dirt for decades to come, with more research to do on preventing water damage. In the meantime, surviving artifacts will be on display at the center and then likely shared with the West Sonoma County Historical Society next door.

Coincidentally, that would return the mementos to the hands of the same woman who led the chamber of commerce when its members organized the time capsule in 2000: Teresa Ramondo, now the executive director of the historical society.

The time capsule reveal was one of many activities postponed to 2021 because of the pandemic. According to Ramondo, the reveal was originally intended for 2025, but the date was later moved up.

She attended the reveal with family, including young grandchildren she actually envisioned might be there with her by the time the tokens of 2000 would be lifted into the light, according to the chamber letter she penned, found in the capsule.

The letter was the only item she remembered putting in the time capsule, but Ramondo said its reveal was still emotional for her. “But those were some really good years, and it’s good to see everyone enjoying the history of what went on during that time. And I’m glad they’re going to collect some things now and open it up again later to see what’s been happening since, because we’ve certainly been going through some interesting times that will tell another story,” she said.

“It’s not Styrofoam, it’s toilet paper,” Ramondo added, laughing at the end. “I can’t believe 20 years has passed. It didn’t take long.”

Chamber director Linda Collins holds out an Apple Blossom Festival poster from 2000.  (Photo by Camille Escovedo)

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