ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Retired music teacher Brad Clement, 59, came face to face with the 10-year-old boy he used to be when a time capsule found on the site of the former Montgomery Elementary School was broken open Tuesday morning.
“My name is J. Brad Clement, my age is 10 years. I am in fourth grade, Montgomery, Room 15. My teacher’s name is Miss Hoffpauir. My best friend is Brian O’Conner. My favorite TV shows are Lost in Space and the Monkees. I like the Monkees the most because of three reasons. My aunt taught Sunday school to Micky Dolenz, she worked for Micky’s father, and she knew Mike Nesmith.”
Clement recalled that a number of classes wrote messages for time capsules that were buried beneath newly planted trees back in 1968 as part of an Arbor Day project at the school. However, he was pleasantly surprised and amused when he came upon his own name.
The small crowd of Albuquerque Public Schools officials and former Montgomery Elementary classmates broke out in laughter as he and Cindy Linke, then Cindy Bolton, read some of the messages, particularly one from a boy named Greg Lee Youngman, who clearly assumed that his time capsule would be found much further in the future, and possibly opened by someone from a dystopian society.
“I am dead. I go to Montgomery School. That is the olden school name. I was born 1900. You auto now I dead. My favorite subject is spooking the police. I play the guitar. In case you don’t know what it is, it is board with strings on then. I am 10 years old. See you later savages.”
Another message is from 9-year-old Pamela Sue Reinman and dated Feb. 14, 1968. “I collect dolls and play the piano. I am Jewish and we speak Hebrew. Here is the word for mother in Hebrew. It goes from right to left.”
About 25 messages written on paper were stuffed into a glass milk bottle sealed with a cork. Unable to remove the fragile paper from the bottle, Linke was given a piece of rebar and the honor of breaking open the glass.
Linke, whose class was not included in the recovered time capsule, said: “I remember the bottle being much bigger.”
Clement also recalled the bottle as much larger, though he conceded it could be because “when you’re are a child everything seems bigger.”
Kizito Wijenje, executive director of APS’ capital master plan, said that when demolition began earlier this year, former students contacted APS saying they remembered burying time capsules around the 10-acre property at Louisiana and Comanche NE. The capsule opened Tuesday was the only one that had been found during the excavation process, he said.
Montgomery Elementary School was built in 1955, closed as an elementary school in 1982 and turned into a complex for the fine arts, special education and teacher training, Wijenje said. The decision to demolish it was based on its deteriorating condition. The site will eventually house a new teacher training facility, and possibly another school, he said.