Time capsules reveal bits of life in '40s, '70s
Ruth Meanor and her husband, Clyde, show pages of fashions from a magazine that had been placed in a 1942 time capsule that was buried at the former Carnot Elementary School. The Meanors graduated from the school in 1943.
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The demolition of the former Carnot Elementary School in the fall was watched by many, but perhaps none more intently than Ruth and Clyde Meanor, who lived near the school in Moon.
The couple graduated in 1943 from Carnot, which was the predecessor of Moon Area High School. The building on University Boulevard then became an elementary school and later was a training center for US Airways flight crews until it was vacated a couple of years ago.
As the Meanors witnessed their alma mater being dismantled in September, they watched closely when crews proceeded to the demolition of the section of the building where a time capsule had been entombed more than 60 years ago.
That capsule and a second one that was buried on school grounds during the nation's Bicentennial in 1976 were opened Feb. 10 as part of the ground-breaking ceremony for the new high school.
Dale Gass, 84, a Carnot graduate from the class of 1942, said Mrs. Meanor had asked him to open the time capsule, but he wasn't up to it.
He recalled that the shop teacher, James Reed, fashioned the capsule from steel and then sealed it.
"Once it was sealed, he used a machine that pumped the air out of the capsule through a little hole and then he sealed the hole," Mr. Gass said. The capsule was sealed in concrete inside the foundation of the school in 1942.
It was encased in an artillery shell that was lodged in a load-bearing wall underground when additions were being done to the building, which served as the high school for Moon students.
"It was hard to think about the building being knocked down back then," he said.
The Carnot demolition took two cranes and 10 weeks to complete. The site will be used for parking during construction of the new high school. Eventually, it will be used for tennis courts.
Everything in the capsule appeared perfectly preserved. Among the items were small scrolls of paper bearing students' names from all grades and a description of what careers they wanted after graduation.
Mr. Meanor found his name on the paper but said he didn't list a career.
Doris McCartney Sale, class of '47, said she wrote that she wanted to be a stenographer and that's what she did. Classmate Lois Baker Trimberwanted to be a Bell Telephone operator. She became a comptroller.
John Meyers, class of '42, listed his career goal as a chemist and he became a chemical engineer.
Mr. Gass wrote that he wanted to be an engineer. He was a chiropractor for 50 years.
Also inside the capsule was a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with the front-page headline, "Sub Hits Second Tanker off New York -- Australians Battling Japs in Malaya." The newsstand price was 3 cents.
The time capsule also included a Pennsylvania road map; the Aug. 14, 1941, edition of Mademoiselle magazine; a string necklace of multicolored circular beads; a Pennsylvania unemployment compensation law booklet dated Dec. 5, 1936; a Life magazine from Jan. 12, 1942, which sold for 10 cents; a booklet called Big Song Magazine with hits of 1942, which included "I'm a Little Tea Pot;" the 1941 Flame, which was Carnot High School's yearbook; an edition of Moon Beams, the school newspaper; and an honor roll list.
The 1976 Bicentennial time capsule was constructed of PVC pipe, which proved to be far less protective than its steel counterpart. The paper contents had rotted away. A few things were preserved -- Carnot High School and McCormick School T-shirts; a toe sock; an American flag bandana; photographs; small toys, including a toy gun; golf balls; an old-fashioned clothespin; and a ceramic lighter.
Another item was a plastic ruler from Mt. Lebanon Federal Savings and Loan Association, which had a branch in Moon back then. The capsule also contained letters written by students but the letters were damaged by water.
The Bicentennial capsule was buried beneath the flag pole near the school's main entrance.
Larry Covelli, who was a teacher at the middle school then, said the students had brought in things that were important to them.
During the Cold War, the Carnot school served as a bomb shelter. President Gerald Ford visited the building in 1974, the day after he pardoned former President Richard Nixon.
The contents from both time capsules will be placed on display in a glass case in the high school. Eventually, both capsules are to be reburied with a time capsule from 2010 -- the year the new high school is scheduled to open.
First Published February 19, 2009 12:00 am