Dear Lee,

Archaeologists dig where there were old cities, carefully sieving the dirt looking for pieces of bones, chipped stones, pottery, wood and other man-made objects. They learned to “read” history. So when they dug the foundation for our house on land that once was a Shaker Community farm, we saved anything that seemed man-made. We found a two-inch Staffordshire figure of a woman and several tiny dishes indicating that children once played in the field. A huge boulder was moved to the front yard landscaping as original Shaker. We altered the house five times, and each time we left notes or objects for someone to discover someday that will add to the history of the house. Our house is now our private time capsule.

We signed and dated every cement addition. Our garden stepping stones have the handprints of our children before they were five, and other stones have adult handprints with names. Our five-year-old son went out into the muddy yard and lost his shoe. It is buried somewhere and will be a treasure when found. (There are no examples of what the pilgrims wore on their feet.) We removed a front porch and the space below was filled with the workmen’s soft drink bottles. The bottles had an iridized finish from years in water. I put one in my bottle collection with an explanation, then reburied the rest. Every room has studs with notes from the family, the date, the weather, or national or local events of the day – “Just lost my last baby tooth,” “Won the spelling bee at school,” or “Got a flu shot.” Future historians will probably like reading the fashion comments or the early amazement at how computers could do research. There are also razor blades in between studs in the bathroom, which was the safest place to dispose of them. (Shaving had changed from lather and a straight razor to a single-use blade, but not yet an electric razor.) And damaged glass insulators are buried near the bottom of our streetlight pole.

I have friends who moved and found a statue of St. Joseph buried by the previous owner to help sell the house. And many find a pet cemetery in the backyard. (There are those who believe a dead cat wards off malicious spirits.)

Most time capsules are in a corner stone with a written explanation of the items included and a prediction of what life will be like in the future. When our local historical society opened a time capsule filled by women 100 years earlier, they found the prophesies were surprisingly accurate. They predicted airplanes, automobiles (the farthest you could travel then was less than 30 miles a day with a horse), refrigeration of food, large factories making tools, photographs, and lighting and talking machines. But nothing resembled our modern computers and long-distance communication. Space travel, new energy sources like wind and solar power, and self-driven cars are almost here.

What will the unimaginable of the future be? Put your ideas in your house where they will be found in 100 years. We remodeled a bathroom and found our 50-year-old notes. We had just gotten our first microwave and we couldn’t believe we could cook dinner so quickly. We never imagined there would be microwavable frozen dinners. And we never, ever could have imaged a “website” with our name –

Kovels Item