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A time capsule – 74 years later

The country was in the midst of the Great Depression when mining engineer Arthur Kendall and his family planted a time capsule in a hollow bannister of their home staircase.

On Monday, 74 years later, state park officials opened up the bannister to reveal yellowed newspapers, a water stained slip of paper dated March 1, 1934, scrawled with signatures and a worn but empty canister of chewing tobacco.

To see the items again brought a flood of memories to Giles Kendall, 90, and his sister Loraine Kendall Juvelin, 88, who traveled from as far away as Mesa, Ariz., to hold them again.



The siblings spent their adolescence building and living in the rustic faux log home that now serves as a residence for Empire Mine State Park staff.

On Monday, a small ceremony was held at the house as part of a surprise birthday tribute to Kendall, who turned 90 on Friday.




“Boy, I remember when they put it in there. I never thought we’d ever see it again,” Kendall said.

Only recently did park staff become aware of the time capsule hiding in the dark all those years after Kendall formed a friendship with park docent Ginger Bailey.

Kendall, a retired aerospace engineer who helped design landing gear for the space shuttle, remembers living in the house while his father worked as a safety engineer for Empire Mine. The senior Kendall later became the superintendent of the North Star Mine.

At 16, Kendall filled his days playing tennis, building model airships and courting Cybil Taylor, the daughter of the president of the Narrow Gauge Railroad. Life in Nevada County hasn’t changed dramatically, Kendall said.

“You know, it hasn’t changed a whole heck of a lot,” Kendall said.

In 1937, the family moved to Canada, when the Newmont Mining Corp. transferred the patriarch to western Ontario.

Kendall and Juvelin remember the day their father opened the stairwell and dropped in the time capsule “just for history.”

“He thought someday, someone might tear the house down,” Kendall said.

The lead story of The Morning Union on Feb. 28, 1934, screamed, “Japan Irked by Russian Airplanes Overhead.” The weather showed a high of 62 degrees and a low of 51.

A signature by a Swedish carpenter named Oscar Johnson was included on the slip of paper alongside Robert Lewis Kendall, a brother who had died fighting in World War II. A note written in Swedish hand was also found.

Johnson helped the family build the small lodge-style home with high gable ceilings, iron covered lighting and a rock fireplace. He was known to go out drinking after getting paid.

A curator and a historic specialist for the park took a sneak preview of the items, which will remain in park possession, said Park Superintendent Ron Munson.

“Maybe (the curator will) want to tuck them back into the stairwell, I don’t know,” Munson said.


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