Bicentennial Time Capsule
by Sally WARD Stumpf, 1950 Class Representative
My appreciation to Judy Lowe, Aide to Council Member Lonnie C. Rich, and
the folks at the Alexandria Archeology Museum for helping me write this article.

It was September 17, 1949, and the class of 1950 was just beginning its final football season. On that beautiful fall Saturday afternoon, the stadium was packed, and among others in attendance was the President of the United States, Harry S Truman. The GWHS Presidents weren't on the field, however. The Quantico Marines were playing VPI and the football game wasn't really the main attraction.

Before the game began, city officials gathered at the flagpole at the north goal post to bury the city's bicentennial time capsule. Alexandria was 200 years old, and this event would conclude an almost year-long celebration. The capsule, a stainless steel cylinder, approximately 4 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, contained among other things, aerial views of the city, maps of Alexandria dating back to 1749, newspapers, rosters of local civic and other organizations, newspapers and phone books. Warner Brothers Pathe News recorded the event and it was shown in 176,000 theaters.

Over the ensuing years the class of 1950 went forth into the world and the time capsule was forgotten. It wasn't until about 1983 that anyone even realized that it was missing! About six years ago, a GW middle school teacher, Therese Johnston, showed pictures of the capsule to her class and they conducted a search for it. Digging near the flagpole, they found the decomposing marker of the capsule, which obviously had not withstood the test of time. The Chamber of Commerce replaced the base and the plaque and now the capsule rests patiently once again beneath the tablet to wait another 50 years when our progeny will break the seal and discover what things were like when GW was a special place for their great-grandparents.

Stop by the football field some day and take a look at the plaque which describes the contents of the capsule and asks the City Fathers to open the cylinder on September 17, 2049. I would give anything to be there I know it will be a beautiful fall day, the Quantico Marines will be playing football, and maybe the President of the United States will be there.

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This page updated November 02, 2011

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