Macomb County time capsule opened after 30 years

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Clinton Township — Just moments before the burial of a time capsule in 1988, Ed Chrzanowski rushed to include something special for his wife, MaryAnn, and has teased her with the secret ever since. 

Ed Chrzanowski, 63, of Roseville looks for a letter that he put in the time capsule for his wife 30 years ago.

Until Thursday, when MaryAnn was finally able to read a letter from her husband written three decades ago, thinking he wouldn't be alive when the capsule was open. 

"They asked me if I'd like to include something in the capsule. ... It was a spur-of-the-moment thing, and I told her 'you gotta wait now,'" said Ed Chrzanowski, 63, from Roseville. "We never forgot about it. I always teased her, and she's waited all these years to come."

On Thursday, Macomb County Executive Hackel opened the 30-year-old time capsule buried at the Robert A. VerKuilen Building along with the Macomb County Council on Aging Board, who created the time capsule three decades ago with hopes of opening it on their 50th anniversary this year. 

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel opens a 30-year-old time capsule buried in Macomb County.

The capsule laid under the flagpole outside the public works building since the celebration of the state's bicentennial with a stone reading "Macomb County Council on Aging Time Capsule 1988-2018."

Inside remained letters written to future great-grandchildren and loved ones, photos, copies of Macomb Community College degrees, shirts and sweaters, a gavel from past council president Cliff Steward, list of council members, meeting minutes, a tote bag from a 1987 White House conference and an owl statue made by a committee member given to represent wisdom learned from seniors in the community.

Aging Committee President Sarah DeDonatis said they plan to track down the loved ones through social media to give them the letters. 

"We have been looking forward to this vault for a long time," said DeDonatis, a committee member of 12 years. "Being able to see the items, put our hands on it, there are so many good stories and we hope to reach people to give them the letters. Macomb County is a special place for our senior population and the inclusion of the owl to represent the wisdom learned from our elders hasn't changed."

From the community, a Mount Clemens water bill for $141 three months, a deck of cards, a highway map, instant nonfat milk from Focus Hope that was regularly given to senior citizens, a receipt from longstanding Frank's pharmacy, a thimble and sewing needle, minifloppy disks, senior citizens activity calendars, journals and an Elvis sticker reading "Love Me Tender." 

"It's funny and interesting because we didn't even know this was happening. Ed reminded us it was time to open the thing," Hackel said. "My biggest takeaway is what were people thinking when they were putting this stuff in there. ... The letters are something special."

Newspapers from the Detroit Free Press when Pope John Paul II visited Hamtramck in 1987, the Macomb Daily, Bay Voice and a paper with AARP Highlights were also included. 

"The items were a bit wet and molded from being in the ground for many years, but most were well preserved," Hackel said. "Looking back on some of the papers, I can remember things that happened 30 years ago, but it's like a big memory until you start reading and remembering more vividly." 

Items that were stored in the time capsule.

Some of the contents of the capsule will be given to loved ones who are found, other items will be stowed in a wall capsule for a future opening. Hackel said they hope to create another capsule in November to commemorate Macomb County's 200th anniversary.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_