BANGOR — Middle school pupil Josh Kirstein might tell them to “learn from the past.” Senior citizen Persis Messer could urge them to “hang onto your memories and keep history alive.”
Residents happily speculated last week on the messages they will send to people in the middle of the 21st century via the Bangor Public Library’s time capsule.
TimeStoppers Committee Chairman Michael Crowley has encouraged community members to set aside Jan. 29 to take stock of their lives and communicate to future residents in writing, on tape or with photographs about their daily activities, concerns, values and aspirations.
While eighth-graders at Bangor’s Cohen Middle School will write an essay about their typical day, residents of the Phillips Strickland House in Bangor plan to create a slide show as they visit sites on the Bangor Historical Society’s bus tour and record their memories.
English teacher Marlene Susi took a break last Wednesday between classes to explain why communiques from 14-year-olds should be included in the time capsule.
“What better way to show what the ’90s were like,” Susi said. “These kids know the latest fashion statements, computer games, TV shows and music.”
More than that, she said, the project gives teens — many of whom will eventually move away from the area — a way to “feel connected to Bangor.”
Senior citizens bring “wisdom and experience” to the time capsule project, said Dianne Conroe, activities director at Phillips Strickland.
Conroe, 38, plans on being present when the time capsule is opened on Oct. 20, 2046.
“I want to be the old lady who says, “I was there when we put this together,”‘ she said, laughing.
Although most time capsules are opened in 100 years, Bangor’s will be unearthed in half that time, so that “some of us can play a part in the reopening ceremony,” according to Crowley.
But its contents are what will really set the time capsule apart.
“Our time capsule will be a piece of living history, capturing what we feel and think and have experienced,” said Crowley. “The typical time capsule contains some business reports, a few photographs of the project under construction and maybe a few novelty items. But there’s more to a community than a somewhat artificial publication that summarizes activity at a given point in time.”
Meanwhile, the Bangor Daily News has designed a questionnaire to help residents make a record of their day.
According to Charles Campo, NEWS librarian and a member of the TimeStoppers Committee, the questions are designed to “give the flavor of what people think and do on a typical day and what their community was like.”
Residents have through February to bring their communiques to the library.
Organizations, schools, businesses and places of worship also have been asked to participate in the project. But Crowley hopes people don’t wait for an invitation.
If a particular group is not represented, “we may make a concerted outreach,” he said. “But we want people to step forward with their own unique ways of capturing the essence of the community at this point in time.”
The chairman said next month his committee will take an inventory of items which have been submitted for the time capsule.
“We’ll have a field day seeing what people think is important,” Crowley said.
Some groups have already decided how they want to be remembered.
The Penobscot Theatre Company will contribute a printed program from each play performed during the 1997-98 season, a season poster and newspaper articles about the theater, according to marketing director Travis Fritsche.
The Penobscot County commissioners hope to illustrate a typical day in the county courthouse by providing copies of court cases, penalties and dockets, said Commissioner Peter Baldacci.
Eastern Maine Healthcare, including Eastern Maine Medical Center and Acadia Hospital, both in Bangor, will offer an historical view of health care, according to Nancy Ballard, director of community relations.
At St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Public Affairs Director Kathy Jeffrey said a likely contribution would be written statements and videotapes discussing past, present and future perspectives on health care.
Abnaki Girl Scouts probably will submit a handbook and a camp brochure, Executive Director Jo Stevens said.
Altrusa International Inc. of Bangor plans to contribute a yearbook, a program from the annual fashion show, newsletters and committee reports, said Jane Cushing, public relations coordinator for the women’s service organization.
Other groups are making plans to amass messages. Everyone, it seems, has a yen to be part of history.
The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce will hold a continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, at the library, where a video camera will be set up for members to record a brief message.
Future residents will be fascinated by comments from businesspeople in 1998, said Earl Black, president of the Bangor Chamber.
“Someone in real estate 50 years from now might take a look and say, `Oh, that’s nothing compared to what we’re dealing with today,”‘ said Black, a real estate agent.
The Rev. Frank Murray of St. Mary’s Church in Bangor has written to representatives of churches and synagogues asking them to document activities in their congregations on and around Jan. 29. Items could include a sermon they have preached or a picture of the congregation, he said.
Although fundamental religious beliefs likely will have remained the same, “who knows how practices will have changed in 50 years?” Murray wondered.
But for Crowley, the overriding question is what the time capsule ultimately will say about Bangor at the end of the 20th century.
“I hope it shows that we’re thoughtful and engaging and that we value the individual,” he said.
This record of Jan. 29, 1998, was prepared as part of the Bangor Public Library’s TimeStoppers Project
Breakfast (what, where, with whom)
Morning ritual (newspaper, TV, radio, exercise, walk the dog, etc.)
Work, school, whatever (job, grade, retiree’s former occupation)
Lunch (what, where, with whom)
Shopping (what I bought)
Dinner (what, where, with whom)
Evening activity (what, where, why)
Favorite book Favorite music Favorite movie Favorite TV show
Favorite performer Favorite games or sports
Favorite hobby or pastime Favorite outdoor activity
I use a computer to do the following things
What I think
People I admire (and why)
People 50 years from now should know that, in 1998, Bangor was
Life’s toughest problems in 1998 Bangor are
I think the greatest change over the next 50 years will be
My most memorable recollection of using a library is
The Bangor Daily News encourages readers to record events in their lives on Jan. 29, 1998. To participate in the time capsule project, complete this form and forward it by Feb. 28.
TimeStoppers, Bangor Public Library 145 Harlow St. Bangor, ME 04401