Time capsule reveals history, pop culture

Release Date: August 19, 2008

PLAINVIEW – The opening of the time capsule outside Wayland Baptist University was reminiscent of an episode of VH-1’s “I Love the 80s” as items reflected both the history of the university and the culture of the mid-1980s.

Buried in March 1984 at the close of the university’s 75th anniversary year, the time capsule was opened on Wednesday morning at Koinonia Chapel, held outside Gates Hall. In conjunction, the new statue of Dr. James Wayland was unveiled for students and his life and character reflected in comments by Dr. Estelle Owens, university historian, as a new school year began officially on Wednesday.

“James Henry Wayland was a giant of a man. On a tall day, he topped out at 5’4”,” said Owens in her opening comments. “He was a giant because, when God called him, he said, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’

“He was a giant because God gave him a vision for a college, and he put hands, feet, heart and resources into realizing that dream and making it come true in a very unlikely place.”

Following the unveiling of the statue, Dr. Claude Lusk – vice president of enrollment management who was Student Union Board president in 1984 – and Dr. Gary Manning, professor of religion who was on the 1984 Prophecy Committee, joined current Student Body president Ashley Beggs, a senior from Muleshoe in opening the capsule and removing some of the contents.

At the top was a hooded sweat top in white, blue and gold and a t-shirt for WBU Hawaii, along with a pair of L’Eggs pantyhose in the signature silver egg-shaped box, and an unopened box of Tylenol, reminiscent of the poisoning scare from that era.

While students marveled at the Petra cassette tapes and one of The Gatlin Brothers, others chuckled at the old-fashioned mailbox doors from the days when mail was received in dormitory lobbies. A twisted bead necklace gave a hint to the fashions from 25 years ago, as did a pair of very short track shorts and a sweatshirt that had been cut off at the midriff.

Also inside was a WBU diploma cover – which is no different today – and several books from the late Fred Howard, former religion professor and writer. A cartoon book and stuffed doll reminded current students of Garfield, the furry cat who was quite the 80s icon. A set of Gold Bond stamps were included, as were copies of the Plainview Daily Herald and Baptist Standard from 1984, issues of popular magazines like GQ – featuring James Garner on the cover – Sports Illustrated, McCall’s, Popular Science, TV Guide and others. A 1982-83 Wayland yearbook and copies of the Trailblazer student newspaper and Footprints alumni magazine bore witness to the events on campus those years ago.

In terms of Wayland history, a full list of students enrolled in 1983-84 was included, along with academic catalogs and admissions materials, posters from the Pioneer Basketball team and the International Choir, programs from graduation and the Board of Trustees meetings and copies of applications and forms from the 80s.

The four-foot-tall capsule was made of PVC pipe, painted blue with WBU 2008 on the side and buried just off the sidewalk in front of Gates Hall. A concrete block read “To be opened in 2008,” and a photo album inside the capsule showed the hole being dug, the concrete block being created and etched and even included the maintenance requisition for the project.

The items were all removed and placed on a display table in the first floor of McClung University Center, where they will be available for viewing by the public for several months.

Current students and employees will collect items from the centennial year and today’s pop culture for inclusion in a time capsule to be buried in August 2009 at Koinonia Chapel, marking the 101st year of the university.