This year is going to be a special one in my hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee. Our town, being 150 years old, will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2019, and the party has begun.
|So much to see, hear, and do at this party.|
On Saturday, Jan. 5, several hundred citizens, along with local politicians, a beauty queen, and a member of Congress all gathered in downtown Johnson City to get our party started. The focus for this event was the display of items previously placed in a time capsule back in 1969. This capsule had been created during the celebration of Johnson City's centennial. Wanting to look at the capsule's contents was enough to get me out of the house to attend the event. I'm so glad I did.
|Metal sign from the actual 1969 time capsule|
A portion of the sign from the time capsule was on display. I learned that the capsule had been installed during the construction of the high school which my children later attended. The accompanying list of artifacts showed that items ran the gamut from serious to fun.
|There was an impressive variety of items in the 1969 time capsule.|
The line to gaze at the items from the capsule moved slowly, but no one seemed to mind as virtually everyone could find something interesting in the display. There were items pertaining to city government such as the former city flag, a 1969 city map, a copy of the 1969 city budget and a key to the city. Also on display were photos and information about the city's hospitals of the day, our public school system, the two local colleges, and the university.
Admittedly, the line slowed as we passed by the displays relating to everyday life, things like a 1969 Sears catalog, newspapers with historical headlines like "Men Walk on Moon", samples of products made in our town, and some popular children's toys. There was a fascinating scrapbook of local newspaper articles covering the variety of events celebrating the 1969 centennial, and there always seemed to be school age students leafing through its pages. I was excited to learn that the time capsule items will remain on display in the downtown area for some time so that others can continue to take a closer look at our city's more recent history.
Another part of the official program included the reading of a letter written by the 1969 mayor of the town to the 2019 Johnson City mayor. Our present mayor, a woman with a distinguished record of public service, didn't seem to mind reading the salutation, "Dear Sir" and graciously accepted the letter's warm wishes for success and prosperity for our city in the year 2019.
My favorite part was seeing the number of children and younger families at the party. They would browse the numerous displays of photos of churches, businesses, and schools from the town's 150 year history. And there would usually be an older person close by who was glad to answer any of their questions about the past. I was one of them as I answered a few questions relating to the picture of my church's building back in the early 1900s.
|It was interesting to see photos of city churches throughout the years.|
Another fun spot was a craft table, complete with small cardboard boxes, markers, and stickers, whatever a child might want to make and decorate his or her own time capsule box to take home, fill, and then open at some point in the future. Seeing the kids working on their boxes made me wish my grandchildren had been in town and could make a box for themselves.
|Making your own time capsule was a great family project.|
There was no Photo Booth at this party. Instead, people could record a message to the future to be included in the 2019 time capsule. It turned out to be another great family activity. No one seemed to mind the spectators who gathered to watch and to hear the various individuals and groups contribute a 30 second message, a few even adding a little song and dance to their message. Hopefully, 2069 technology will permit these messages to be played and enjoyed in the future.
|Recording a greeting for the 2069 Bicentennial|
And the party wasn't just things to look at. We had a sing-along to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", a hit song from 1969. We celebrated as three generations of a family blow out the three giant candles on the birthday cake. And what's a party without cake! Everyone was invited to sample the delicious birthday cake, made by a local baker who just happens to be scheduled to be on a Food Network program in the coming months. It all made for a pretty good party.
I'm already looking forward to attending future sesquicentennial events. The more, the merrier.
|Display from the George Carter Railroad Museum at East Tennessee State University|
Some Genealogy Musings:
- The photo displays were well organized and labeled. The hard work of others provided lots of information in an interesting and accessible manner. In a similar vein, when we share old family photos, it might garner more interest from family members if we, too, include a little bit of the Who, What, When, and Where to accompany some of the pictures.
- It was great to see the time capsule activity available for children. We just might have some new historians on our hands at the bicentennial in 2069, ones whose interest started with a simple craft idea.
- Our public library had a display of some local history materials from the Tennessee Room, their genealogy collection area. There was also a member of the library staff present to talk with people about the library's genealogy resources as well as to provide information about our local genealogy society. This was a simple, effective marketing tool.
- Additional photos and resources were provided for viewing at the party by East Tennessee State University and by the Archives of Appalachia which is housed at the university. This was another example of increasing exposure within the community as to the variety of historical (and potentially genealogical) resources available at the local level. It also spoke loudly of the important of providing accessibility to such resources.
- The party was another reminder that we, too, are part of making history every day.
#JohnsonCity150 #citycelebrations #JCTNsesquicentennial