Time capsule hoax, by very patient pranksters, revealed

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Filed under: College Pranks, Pranksters

Submitted by Marcy LaViollette:

Timeless prank: UW time capsule from ’50s reveals porn from ’70s
By Brian Alexander
Seattle Times staff reporter
April 26, 2007

Here’s something you wouldn’t expect to find inside a time capsule from the 1950s: pornography from the 1970s.

But faculty members at the University of Washington Department of Communications found just that when they opened a half-century-old time capsule Thursday and saw a centerfold and copies of Playboy and Hustler.

Atop the 50-year-old memorabilia were items from the late ’70s and early ’80s: adult magazines, an April Fools’ edition of The Daily, UW’s student newspaper, clip-on ties, women’s underwear, and nearly petrified Twinkies, among other things.

“I just think this is a great college prank,” department chair Gerald Baldasty said Thursday night after an event at which alumni from the classes that sponsored the time capsule got to look at what was inside. “We’re not upset at all; we’re just having a good chuckle over it.”

It didn’t appear that any of the original items placed in the capsule 50 years ago - reel-to-reel films and copies of local publications - were missing, Baldasty said.

The time capsule was locked away, implanted in the wall of the Communications Building, with an inscription that said it should be opened on the 100th anniversary of the first journalism classes at the university, which is this year.

The department is planning an event for Saturday to reveal to the general public what was inside its capsule, which sits outside The Daily’s offices. The more recent additions to the capsule will be part of that display, Baldasty said.

“We’re not hiding it,” he said. “We’ll have that out so people can see that, too.”

There aren’t any suspects in the case - though the general assumption is that someone from The Daily opened it one or more times between 1976-80, said communication alumni and development manager Victoria Sprang.

Opening it would have been no easy task, Sprang said. The capsule was sealed by 36 bolts that require a special tool to remove - it is also in a well-traveled hallway, so it would have been difficult to break in without drawing attention.

“I am so impressed that whoever did that kept quiet for so many years,” Sprang said.

Both Sprang and Baldasty wonder if the prankster or pranksters will reveal themselves.

All of the content will be on display from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in Room 104 of the Communications Building.

© 2007 The Seattle Times Company