Caesar Rodney time capsule brings past alive

Rebecca and George Walton, left, and Robert Marker examine the contents of the 1928 time capsule, now on display at Caesar Rodney High School. (Caesar Rodney School District/Ron Gough)

Rebecca and George Walton, left, and Robert Marker examine the contents of the 1928 time capsule, now on display at Caesar Rodney High School. (Caesar Rodney School District/Ron Gough)

WYOMING — A century ago residents of the neighboring towns of Camden and Wyoming voted to consolidate efforts to educate their children.

That partnership resulted in Caesar Rodney School District.

Over the past 100 years the district has grown from Caesar Rodney School in 1916 to include 12 schools. Buses have replaced horse-drawn wagons and students rely as much on computers as books and papers.

CAPSULE CONTENTS • Sterling silver Girls Reserve ring and pin. The Girls Reserve was an organization sponsored by the Young Women’s Christian Association. Members in good standing for one year would receive a pin and one in good standing for two years a ring. A Girls Reserve letter also was in the time capsule. • Two Caesar Rodney pennants • A fall concert program • Four black and white photos (two are of students holding the time capsule before burial). • Junior prom autograph book with pencil • Document listing all juniors and seniors • Document listing all class officers • Book cover signed by all seniors • Boy Scouts of America charter • Two C.R.I.S.P. monthly booklets. The Caesar Rodney Interscholastic School Publication was a forerunner of the modern yearbook. • Freshman notes Anyone having memorabilia from Caesar Rodney School District to donate or loan to the district to be displayed can contact Ron Gough at ronald.gough@cr.k12.de.us or (302) 698-4828.

CAPSULE CONTENTS
• Sterling silver Girls Reserve ring and pin. The Girls Reserve was an organization sponsored by the Young Women’s Christian Association. Members in good standing for one year would receive a pin and one in good standing for two years a ring. A Girls Reserve letter also was in the time capsule.
• Two Caesar Rodney pennants
• A fall concert program
• Four black and white photos (two are of students holding the time capsule before burial).
• Junior prom autograph book with pencil
• Document listing all juniors and seniors
• Document listing all class officers
• Book cover signed by all seniors
• Boy Scouts of America charter
• Two C.R.I.S.P. monthly booklets. The Caesar Rodney Interscholastic School Publication was a forerunner of the modern yearbook.
• Freshman notes
Anyone having memorabilia from Caesar Rodney School District to donate or loan to the district to be displayed can contact Ron Gough at ronald.gough@cr.k12.de.us or (302) 698-4828.

The Delaware State News has published a 32-page special section where readers can learn about the district’s growth, graduates who returned to teach, arts and sports legacies, and more.

We hope readers peruse the Delaware State Archives’ photographs from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Perhaps you will recognize family members — or even a younger self.

Recently, Ron Gough, the district’s community relations specialist, experienced witnessing such a recognition. It began with a find of his own.

While conducting research on the history of the Caesar Rodney School District in August as part of the yearlong centennial celebration, Mr. Gough was studying board meeting records from the early 1900s. The records, along with other district historical documents, are kept in a large walk-in safe.

Then, something caught his eyes.

“Way in the back of the safe sitting high on a top shelf and obscured by blueprints and binders, a copper colored square object that measured no more than 6 inches high and 6 inches across, was partially exposed,” he said.

Curious, he had to see what it was. He found a ladder and climbed within arms’ reach.

There, squirreled away on a shelf he found a rectangular box measuring about 2 feet long, with its top peeled back where an industrial weld once was.

It became clear this was no ordinary box, Mr. Gough said, but rather a part of Caesar Rodney School District history.

“It was a time capsule!”

Buried by the class of 1928 in the general area where Fred Fifer III Middle School now stands on Camden-Wyoming Avenue in Camden, the capsule had been unearthed in 1967 when Caesar Rodney Junior High was demolished to make way for a new school.

The metal box was opened that year during a local school board meeting.

It contained two Caesar Rodney pennants, book covers signed by class seniors, four photographs (two showing the soon-to-be burial of the time capsule), a Girls Reserve ring and YWCA pin, prom autograph books, two C.R.I.S.P. yearbooks, and more.

Mr. Gough’s story doesn’t end with the rediscovery of the capsule, however.

His second wow moment came a few weeks ago when a resident stopped by the district office in Wyoming to purchase a centennial license plate.

George Walton, of Magnolia, casually mentioned to Mr. Gough that his father-in-law, Clarence Marker, had graduated from CRHS in the class of 1928.

Mr. Gough escorted him to examine the 1928 time capsule, now displayed in glass cases in Caesar Rodney High School.

Peering at the photo found in the capsule, Mr. Walton picked out the young man whom he thought was Mr. Marker.

But he wasn’t 100 percent confident.

That was rectified, however, when he brought his wife, Rebecca, and her brother Robert Marker, to see the display for themselves.

“I truly believe this is my father standing with his classmates,” Mrs. Walton said, as she held the small, black and white photograph in her hands.

“To view a never-seen-before photograph of my father is beyond words,” she said. “I am so thrilled to have come here and looked at his time capsule, the pennants and the documents. To know this came from my father’s class is exciting.”

People gathered for a group photograph at a 1920 Caesar Rodney Attendance Day. The banner in the background says “We smile when we say 90% attendance in Kent County.” Additional photographs from the Delaware Public Archives, plus stories, are in the Centennial Celebration inside today’s Delaware State News. (Submitted photo/Delaware Public Archives)

People gathered for a group photograph at a 1920 Caesar Rodney Attendance Day. The banner in the background says “We smile when we say 90% attendance in Kent County.” Additional photographs from the Delaware Public Archives, plus stories, are in the Centennial Celebration inside today’s Delaware State News. (Submitted photo/Delaware Public Archives)

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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