• adrienne waterman

The day I lost my time capsule

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

We were on the cusp of adolescence. We were cool. We knew — as only the young can — that we would want to revisit ourselves 40 years into the future and that we definitely should capture ourselves at that moment.

It was 39 years ago that my sisters and I buried our first Time Capsule. It felt so exciting thinking about what it would be like to open it again in forty years time. We never found it again.

Our Time Capsule was an old metal canister from my Dad’s workshop. We filled it with all our treasures and we had it all planned out that we would open it when I turned fifty.

I forget most of what was in there — but it definitely included a newspaper, locks of our hair, our report cards, photos of ourselves, a handwritten family tree, and messages from the past to our future-selves. It also (unfortunately) included a silver coin given to me by my great aunt to commemorate Lady Di’s wedding that year, as well as an LP single of Bowie. I figured it was fine to bury my coin — because of course I would get it back in forty years — and by that time it would simply be more valuable. I had no idea that was the last sighting I’d ever have of my coin (or for that matter I also had no idea about the sad demise the future held for Lady Di’s marriage).

And no ones richer now ….except possibly the worms It wasn’t hard for us to remember that we had a Time Capsule; and forty years on we giddily headed over to the childhood home to dig up our capsule. We each had in our minds where x marked the spot.


We spent hours stabbing spikes into the ground (and apologizing to the nice new owners), but we just couldn’t come up with the goods. My Lady Di and Prince Charles coin was gone forever and no doubt worms are feasting on my report card as I write this.

The sense of loss was unexpectedly profound. I hate that my Time Capsule has been left to turn to dust in the wind. That was part of me. Gone and forgotten forever. In my mind I had also been planning to add to my time capsule and burying a new one — an updated version — for my grandchildren. I now have so many wonderful family photos and the family tree I built to pass on. Long story short, I learnt from my experience that if you want a Time Capsule — you need to do it properly

  1. bury your Time Capsule in a place where it can be easily found

  2. set a date for opening

  3. ensure the fact of their existence is recorded somewhere, especially with family or friends.

  4. And don’t make your Time Capsule out of something that will rot.

And that’s why I built my second Time Capsule — this time through NotForgotten® and put it into my family tree on ancestry. It’s such a simple, clever way to store all the documents and videos that really matter to me, which tell my story. I used the NotForgotten® app to upload everything, filmed my story and an actual library and a Trust is going to look after it from now on. These Time Capsules work. And that’s because they are based on simple Time Capsule fundamentals that will never fail anyone — a huge step up from glass jars and tin cans buried in the back yard dirt.