PUBLISHED: 4:52 PM on Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Contents of a 50-year-old time capsule revealed
Blast from the past
In 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower occupies the White House and Egypt takes over the Suez Canal. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Yankee Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. "I Love Lucy" is the top-rated TV show.

In Juneau, construction starts on a school to be called Juneau-Douglas High School. Juneau's population has reached almost 8,000 and local officials want a school that will bring together students from Juneau and Douglas in one central location.

Almost everyone forgot about the time capsule. It was nestled behind a cornerstone as part of a Masonic ceremony to honor the school's construction. There were no known official documents telling of its place and no outward sign of its location.

It had been covered up during the 1984 addition and remodeling of the high school.

Four years ago construction workers tearing down an interior wall found the copper box. Plans were to open it then, but a few community members came forward and said it should remain closed until 2006-exactly 50 years after it was placed in the school's foundation. Last week at a ceremony at JDHS the box was opened in front of an audience of about 150.

"I was really surprised when they called me and said there was a time capsule and they wanted me to come to a ceremony to open it," said

Yvonne Guy, one of 16 members of the class of 1956 still living in

Juneau. She said she knew nothing about the time capsule until that phone call.

Guy and Clifford "Ralph" Swap were senior high school students at the

Capital School in 1956. Swap was a member of the band and said one of the best things his class did was to create the Crimson Bears mascot.

"And they're still doing us proud," he observes of the current crop of

JDHS team athletes.

Swap said in 1956 his family bought their first television set, but there was only one channel to watch.

"To get the signal you had to line the TV up with a bull's eye and even then you got a lot of static," he said.

Betty Miller went to school with Swap. She said fun back then meant having a soda with friends at Percy's Café on Front Street or going to the teenage club run by Zach Gordon. Leaving Juneau meant boarding a steam ship.

"I'm 70 years old, and can tell you that was the way we used to get out of here, by steam. It took about a week to get to Seattle," she said.

Sporting a red T-shirt with Class of 1956 in black letters, Alan Gould said at 17 he was one of the youngest members in the class. He remembers Egan Drive didn't exist and Alaska was still a territory.

Families of some of his classmates didn't have cars, but it didn't really matter because people walked everywhere. Juneau - Douglas Community College, the predecessor to University of Alaska Southeast was founded that year.

"Back then I wanted to be an engineer, and that's what I ended up doing, in Petersburg and Portland, Oregon. Then we returned to Juneau about 20 years ago," he said.

Four members of the class of 1956 - Gould, Swap, Guy and Nancy Edwards Thompson-were on hand as the time capsule was opened with blowtorch for an audience including 150 friends of the class, their family members and current JDHS students.

Carefully unsealing a 50-year-old white envelope, Guy reads a letter from the American Legion.

She's followed by Swap who has an envelope from Northern Lights Church listing its officers and programs. There are letters from the mayor of Douglas and the mayor of Juneau and documents from other civic and community groups.

The time capsule's documents are expected to be displayed at the

Juneau-Douglas City Museum later this year.

It's also possible some of these 50-year-old items will be passed to another time capsule planned for the new high school now under construction in the valley.

No one knows what it will contain but suggestions from students watching the activities include: a razor thin cell phone, an iPod, a softball and at a LiveStrong rubber wristband.