By DAVID GREEN
For 30 years, a small wooden box has hung on the library wall at Morenci Elementary School. Library aide Jackie Schaffner knew this was the year to take it down and open it up.
She gave a reminder call and retired second grade teacher Jackie Green started planning.
The box was a time capsule created in May 1976 by Mrs. Green’s students. Everyone in the class wrote a message for the future and a few other items of the day were added.
But none of that was remembered until Saturday morning when nine class members joined their teacher in the library to take a look inside. After three decades, Mrs. Green had no recollection of what was contained within.
She picked a day for the opening and sent letters to all the students she could locate.
“I want to tell you how pleased I am that you came,” she told the students Saturday. “I was afraid I might be the only one.”
She reminded the small crowd that Roy Norton, the husband of another teacher, built the box for the class and sealed up the contents. She said that she really wanted to open it before today to get an idea if it was worth the effort. As teacher, she thought, she was entitled to a peak inside.
“But the reason I didn’t open it is because I couldn’t,” she said.
Roy did a good job of creating a tight container and she had him loosen the box before opening day so the contents could be unveiled without too much effort.
Mike Wagner was standing close by in the library and he was chosen to pry it open.
On top was a class photo. Next came a message from Julie Koppitsch, a senior at the time who served as a classroom aide. Then were the notes written by the kids.
Tonya Vereecke Hoffman wrote that she would be a house mother in 30 years, living in Florida with a set of twins. “Most of all,” she wrote, “I want to be a star.”
As students took turns reading, Mrs. Green reminded her former second graders that they had to speak loudly so everyone could hear.
Tamara Punches Swisher expressed a desire to become a piano player.
“I hope that my mom and dad will come with me when we open the time capsule,” she wrote.
Sure enough, they were there Saturday to witness the event.
“And I hope Mrs. Green will still be living,” she added.
Jeff Shields, now living in Utah, couldn’t make it to the opening, but he called Mrs. Green to talk and to offer an apology. When Jeff’s mother saw an article in the paper about the capsule and called to tell him, his response was something like, “Oh, is Mrs. Green still around?”
He explained to her on the phone that at the time, she said that she probably wouldn’t be here when it was opened.
Kelly Thomas Pifer‘s note said she wanted to be a housewife with three kids [she now has two]. She also wanted to be a carpentry girl and make furniture.
When Mrs. Green took Mike Wagner’s paper from the box, she said, “You didn’t get much done that day, Mike.”
He read his short letter that said he wanted to become an airplane racer and driver.
“I’m scared to death of flying,” he said, giving a 30-year update.
Brian Shoemaker and Scott Jones both wrote that they wanted to race snowmobiles.
Terry Lamb: a farmer and a flier of model airplanes.
Quincy Amos: a school principal.
Peggy Sue DiCenso: a store lady
Jeff Cunningham: build a church in Florida and become a preacher.
Martin Cox: a skydiver living in Texas.
Stacy Hassenzahl: a piano and organ teacher.
Troy Harvey: piano player and sail around the world.
Randy Schmidt: living with Doug Bachelder; “We will have motorcycles and girls.”
Melissa Dickson Baker: organist in church, lion tamer, vet, teacher and learn how to make baskets.
Kirsten Bruce Mignon wrote that she wanted to become a dance teacher.
“That went out the door a long time ago,” she said.
Most of all, she wrote, she wanted to be like her dance teacher, Jamie Van Arsdalen.
Kristy Shaffer Long was also there to read her letter, which said she wanted to become a basketball coach in California.
Underneath the photos was a Morenci Observer, a Time magazine with Jimmy Carter on the cover, a school newspaper, a JC Penny catalog and a 1976 automotive brochure.
Sandy Bachelder had put a 50 cent piece inside and Jessie Foster added a penny. Kristy Long was given back the quarter she put inside. It was a good keepsake, she said, since her late grandmother gave her the coin.
Melissa Dickson Baker arrived late. Another former student addressed her, but the recognition wasn’t there.
“Hello, I’m Laura Ball,’ she said. “Your best friend from second grade.”
Then the connection came through.
By the way, Melissa asked her teacher of 30 years ago, “Did I get taller or did you get shorter?”
It was probably some of each.