After a quarter century underground, artifacts from UNC student life — from Blue Cups to Blue Books — have remained intact.
The revelation came Friday as past and current students gathered to watch as the class of 1988’s beer-keg time capsule in Polk Place was unearthed and opened — revealing UNC memorabilia ranging from student body president campaign posters to old ticket stubs from sporting events.
The campus grounds committee dug for about 45 minutes before finally pulling the capsule out of the earth. It took the crew another two hours to electrically saw the stainless steel vessel apart.
Time Capsule Coordinator Eric Chilton , who is now a meteorologist at a Greensboro news station, said he was inspired to make the time capsule as a student while watching the movie “Back to the Future.”
“I was just a guy that had an idea,” he said. “I called around to welding companies and asked how to make a time capsule, and they said, ‘Well it sounds cliche for college, but quite honestly a beer keg would be the best thing!’”
To find a keg, Chilton called Fowler’s Food Store, a local grocery store on Franklin Street that is no longer operating.
Chilton and a committee dedicated to creating the time capsule sat in the Pit every day for months collecting donations and items from seniors to put in the capsule.
Anne Davidson, senior class president for 1988, said she was impressed by Chilton’s idea for the project.
“When he came and talked about it back in ’87 and was like, ‘We’re going to make a time capsule and open it 25 years from now,’” she said. “I was like, ‘That’s amazing. I don’t even know what I’m going be doing in two months, much less 25 years.”
While waiting to see what was inside, one group of friends from the class of ’88 who lived on the same floor of Spencer Residence Hall reminisced about using typewriters, the dawn of answering machines and rushing Franklin Street the night before the legal drinking age changed from 18 to 21.
Among the group was alumna Frances Mock, who said it was nostalgic to be on campus.
“You really notice what stays the same because you want to connect with what was here when you were here,” she said.
In the closing remarks of the ceremony, Chilton said UNC never leaves a student’s heart.
“What is it that binds us to this place like no other? It’s us, the people and what we shared here,” he said. “Our class just wanted to leave a piece of us behind. It was a time of big hair, stirrup pants, sweater dresses, leg warmers and Michael Jackson, but it was our time, dang it!”
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