Halley’s Comet Time Capsule

Do you remember that thirty five years ago the second graders at Litchfield Center School buried a time capsule on the Litchfield Green? Maybe you were not born yet. As a once in every seventy-five years event, Halley’s Comet is typically a pretty big deal. Mark Twain even said he came in with Halley’s Comet and would go out with it- he predicted correctly.

Recently, a researcher asked me whether we had any documentation of the town’s activities when the comet made its last appearance. I think this is the first time I’ve been asked about this, and I was pleased to be able to share a blue magnetic photo album full of details about the Litchfield event. I will use this opportunity to plead with you to NEVER use a magnetic photo album for anything you want to preserve. The adhesive is acidic, it will turn yellow, and you may not be able to remove things from it. That said, the scrapbook is full of remarkable documentation of the events planned around the comet’s appearance which included a parade, a fashion show, balloons being released, and the burial of a time capsule marked with a plaque on the Litchfield Green.

Register Citizen, May 30, 1986

Though the original booklet of contents was accidentally buried inside the capsule, the participants were able to recreate it from the polaroid photos they took of their contributions. Having also grown up in the 80s, I enjoyed the stroll down memory lane full of Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and My Little Pony.

Contents of the Time Capsule

The dot-matrix printout of “Computer Art” is also spectacular. Students contributed jams and jellies, a transformer, a Gremlin, a class picture, a Bruce Springsteen poster, a list of favorite TV shows, and many other items to the capsule.

This photo had no caption. Does anyone recognize the child?

The group decided that they would hold reunions every five years. At the first, and as far as we know the only, reunion in 1991 our director was presented with this scrapbook.

This should have been a reunion year- 35 years since the comet was last seen. If you attended Litchfield Center School and remember these events, maybe you can tell us who is in these photos! That is the one critical detail missing from the scrapbook. If you would like to help, make an appointment to come in during library hours (Tues-Fri 10am-12pm and 1pm-4pm) or request the PDF of the scrapbook by emailing lhocking at litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org. Here’s hoping that digging it up is on the 2061 town calendar!

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