Time Capsule Provides Glimpse of Penn State Life in 1965

A crowd of about 100 students and staff gathered at Findlay Dining Commons on May 2 to witness the opening of a time capsule that was discovered embedded in the cornerstone of Findlay during renovations to East Halls.

Encased in a marble stone dated 1965, the time capsule was found by J.C. Orr Inc. construction workers and came as a surprise to Penn State Housing. "We couldn't find any references to a time capsule in historical records," says Conal Carr, director of Housing Operations, in his introductory remarks. "We didn't know it was there, and we don't know what's in it. It could be something great, something horrible, or--after 51 years--nothing at all."

Before the opening of the 12" X 7" X 8" lead capsule, a few special guests addressed the group. Nick Ottinger, president of the Association of Residence Hall Students (ARHS), spoke about his experience as a student leader. Kyle Shuey, vice president of ARHS, shared some fun facts about Penn State in 1965, when Eric A. Walker was president of the University, women weren't allowed to live off campus, and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Rec Hall.

Shuey's mention of a year's tuition at Penn State in 1965--$525 for a Pennsylvania resident--drew laughter from the crowd.

Ryan McCombie, a member of Penn State's Board of Trustees, shared a few memories of his student days. McCombie, who was a freshman at University Park in 1965, remembered the unwritten rule for male attire during Penn State football games: Men who had a date for the game dressed in three-piece suits, while the guys going single wore sports jackets and turtlenecks.

After McCombie expressed gratitude for the opportunity to "take a walk down memory lane," it was time for the reveal. Tracy Douglass of J.C. Orr Inc. wielded pliers to open the capsule, and Carr donned surgical gloves to sift through the contents.

Publications--from maps to magazines to menus--made up all of the time capsule's contents. Materials included a research article on white-tailed deer antler growth, maps of State College and the University Park Campus, a Playboy magazine, athletics schedules, brochures about employment on campus, a Findlay Dining Hall menu, and a student conduct guide. The capsule also contained a Daily Collegian newspaper with headlines "High Tuition Probe to Start" and "Vietnam Protest Set."

As Carr displayed the contents, many in attendance approached the table to inspect the items more closely. Students and staff also took advantage of the opportunity to make their own mark on history by signing a construction beam that will be part of the new Findlay building.

The fun continued later on that evening at Findlay, when students enjoyed a farewell party for The Big Onion, a popular campus eatery that is closing permanently due to renovations. The Late Night Study Break/farewell party included snacks like chips and cupcakes as well as the famous Big Onion pizza.

About 1,200 students enjoyed the food, as well as music, carnival games, and giveaways such as "Farewell to the Big Onion" t-shirts.

"A good time was had by all," says Steve Clemons, assistant manager of Findlay Dining Commons. "It was a nice break from studying for the students."