Central Bank of Boone County felt a lot like 1969 Thursday.
On April 18, 1969, Boone County National Bank placed a time capsule in the base of a new fountain built to greet visitors as they entered a new addition to its building on N. 8th Street. Fifty years later, Al Price, descendant of the bank's 19th century founders and then bank president, was on hand to see the contents unveiled for the public.
"I'm also surprised to be here," Price told the crowd to uproarious laughter.
The bank began the process of unearthing the time capsule seven months ago. Far from a secret, a plaque marked the spot under the fountain's base that held the tubular red, white and blue, rocket-shaped container.
Price led the initiative to bury the capsule under the fountain. At the time, the bank thought the community would enjoy the time capsule. Some choice items were put on display Thursday in the bank lobby as a crowd gathered.
Opening the capsule, which took place two weeks ago in anticipation of the looming anniversary, proved to be a challenge.
A rocket-shaped capsule was chosen because Apollo missions to the moon and the space race captured the nation's imagination in 1969 and the threaded brass pipe with fins required four hours for workers from Professional Contractors & Engineers to open.
Jason Morgan, assistant vice president of facilities management, said workers first tried to open the vessel with strap ties. When that failed, PCE workers rented two four-foot tall wrenches to force the capsule open.
"Everything inside was bone dry," Morgan said, allaying fears that decades under the fountain may have spoiled its contents.
Once inside, Morgan's team found a treasure trove of history.
A handful of bank workers put in letters to family members. John Nichols, now 75, and his sisters Anne Douglas and Jane Smith, now 70, opened a letter from their mother Virginia Nichols, written April 16, 1969. Virginia Nichols served as Price's assistant and also worked for Price's great-grandfather R.B. Price.
The letter contained basic biographical information about Nichols, as well as two 1968 half-dollars, four dimes and two nickels, all taped to the letter.
"It was probably something she had in her purse before they put it in the time capsule," John Nichols said.
Danny Crane and Mike Crane's mother Lorene Crane taped two dimes to her letter to the future. A bank employee in 1969, she still works as the bank. As they opened their letter, their faces smiled in amazement at the site of the a letter on stationary with their mother's name on the letter head.
"To my sons with love, your mother," the note dated April 17, 1969 read.
Lorene Crane did not attend because she was on a well-deserved vacation, the brothers said. Danny was 9 and Mike was 7 when the letter was written. His mother worked as a secretary for Price at one point, Danny Crane said. Now she works in Central Bank's finance division.
The bank put in $100 certificates of deposit payable to for Stephen's College, Columbia College and the city. Stephen's College President Dianne Lynch, Columbia College Humanities Dean Lisa Ford-Brown and interim Columbia City Manager John Glascock accepted checks for the certificates, now worth $1,200.
Brad Miller, a local dentist, held a $100 certificate of deposit dated April 18, 1969, in a blue case as he walked around the lobby. Mayor Herbert Jeans, Miller's grandfather, posed for a picture with Price as he held the certificate. As he grew up, the picture became a family heirloom and way for Miller to remember his grandfather.
Thursday Miller received the certificate of deposit and a $1,200 check.
Typed on the back was a note.
"Pay equally to all of my living descendants of the same class of the highest degree who appear at the Boone County National Bank for the opening of the "time capsule" on April 18, 2019," the note read. "If no descendant of any degree appear on said date payment shall be made to the Salvation Army."
"Can you imagine in 1969 thinking that far ahead?" Miller, 53, said as he looked at the note.
On a wall hung a scroll with 4,200 names of Mid-Missouri residents. As the bank prepared the time capsule in the 1960s it invited any resident that wished to stop in and sign a sheet of paper which would be placed in the time capsule.
Nearby hung about a half-dozen photos of a much younger looking Price with dignitaries in Jefferson City as they signed the scroll. In one Price stood smiling to the right of State Treasurer William Robinson as Robinson looks down at the scroll. In others Price stands Gov. Warren Hearnes and then Attorney General John Danforth as they signed the document.
Perhaps the biggest find also yielded the biggest bust of the project.
At the time the bank held an essay contest for students 10 and 15 to guess what life would be like in 2019. Five finalists were chosen from 127 entries and won $10 each at the time.
Many essays contained guesses that proved to be somewhat true. Several guessed that all students would have TVs on their desks or thought people would use glass tablets in school or at home.
Other ideas proved to be more wild. The saucer shaped school on stilts one student predicted never came to fruition. Neither did the reasonably-priced trips to the moon another predicted. Long skirts one student predicted came and went several times.
Billy Wilson at 1117 Woodhill Road was one of several students to predict that robots would teach students and that human teachers would be nearly absent from schools.
Brent Sewell predicted Columbia would have another junior college and a computer training college. Students estimated the city would have a population of between 108,000 and 1.1 million people. The lower estimate is quite accurate; Columbia reached 108,500 people in 2010 and was estimated to have 121,717 in 2017.
Recently Central Bank staff chose the winning essay from the five finalists. A $50 certificate of deposit was put in the capsule for winner, so the winner got $600 Thursday.
Kevin Boggs, a fourth grader at the time, wrote that people would cook food only in "radiation ovens," Henderson said. Microwave ovens were invented in 1967, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Automatic sweepers would clean houses, the city would have four high schools and electric cars would connect residents to shopping centers around town, Henderson told the crowd of Boggs' letter.
Boggs did not attend, nor did any other essayist. Mary Wilkerson, Central Bank vice president of marketing, said the bank reached out to the finalists. Two have died. The three others live outside the region and could not be reached.
"We tried," Wilkerson said.
As the open house wound down around 2:30 p.m., the lobby grew quiet. For the first time all afternoon, the history filled the room more than the sounds of the crowd.
Price served as the public face of the event, doing interviews and cracking jokes with reporters. With the crowds nearly gone, he stopped Henderson as they walked through the lobby.
Clearly the event went like he imaged it would exactly 50 years ago.
"Really well done," Price told Henderson. "It didn't disappoint."