BARSTOW• Former Pitcher Junior High students, along with members of the Barstow Women's Club and Desert Holly Garden Club, were brought together with a mutual anticipation of rediscovery Monday morning.
They planned to open a time capsule they had buried in 1972 at the since-closed school. But first they had to find it.
The first dig just west of the main entrance — a collaborative effort between a bulldozer and two shovels — proved to be the wrong location.
After waiting more than 41 years, though, nobody seemed to mind taking a little time to try somewhere else.
"We're going to plan B!" Jeff Malan yelled. The Barstow Unified School District superintendent led about 30 vested onlookers toward the direct front of the school. He had gotten word from a couple of former Pitcher students who thought they remembered the time capsule being entombed in a brick wall behind a black plaque.
After about 20 minutes of prodding, drilling, pulling and twisting, three men had etched out the plaque. From behind it emerged a copper box the size of a large dictionary.
Once opened, the items found inside included: a copy of the school newspaper, The Trojan Press; a request for a California State Flag to be used in a dedication ceremony; old stamps; minutes from a school meeting; a list of the teachers and students of the time; a student handbook; a bag of green crystals; and, ironically, instructions to the time capsule's location.
"It's a mixture of emotions," said Anna Saiz (formerly Maestas). "(The contents) are about what was affecting our lives at the time."
Cathy Sollars-Neal, who attended 8th grade at Pitcher Junior High, fondly recalled the day her school buried the time capsule. It was a sunny day — a bit windy and right after lunch, she said.
"I never knew I'd be here when they opened it," she said. Away for the last 25 years, she recently moved back to Barstow. "I always pondered about the capsule, trying to remember what was in it."
Vicky Milliken Boyd attended Pitcher for the 7th and 8th grades.
"I'm moved that everything was in such good shape," she said. "It brings back a flood of memories. It was amazing."
Groups of people who, in some way, felt a connection to the time capsule and to the school, posed for pictures with their treasure.
For the three girls, Saiz, Sollars-Neal and Milliken-Boyd, who spoke of memories like hiking up "Turtle Hill" south of Rimrock Road for P.E. class and eating boxed lunches in homeroom, it was 1972 once more.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.