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Time capsule found in Main Gate construction


Randy Metcalf
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Worker for Cox masonry, Victor Meza, shapes bricks for the wall yesterday where he found a time capsule dated May 20, 1930, last Friday. The construction site is at East University Boulevard and North Tyndall Avenue.

By Hillary Davis
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 3, 1999
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While the future Urban Outfitters store on East University Boulevard promises tomorrow's hippest fashions, a unique find by construction workers converting the suite last Friday reached nearly seven decades into Tucson's past.

A time capsule containing several newspapers, business and trade journals, and wax paper bread wrappers was plucked from a space between the walls of suites 901 and 909 in the University Square shopping center after sitting undisturbed in the beams since 1930.

"I could tell just as soon as I saw it that it was purposely stored there, and I knew it must have some value," said Ron Sherman, project manager for the Urban Outfitters construction.

Sherman removed the dusty manila envelope after foreman Shorty Burruel spotted the package. A confessed antiques addict, Sherman's first thoughts were to preserve the historical documents.

But he said he was also excited.

"I was kinda like a kid - I was so excited. It made me think of the Bahamas," said Sherman, who has found many oddities in his years of home restoring.

Sherman contacted the Arizona Historical Society and the Marshall Foundation, which owns the building the capsule was found in. The Historical Society expressed interest in procuring some of the items, and the Marshall Foundation was also pleased with the discovery.

"I'm hoping to build a display case for the Marshall Foundation so everybody can see it," Sherman said. "They're ecstatic. They really appreciate it."

Several thick journals for grocers and ice cream proprietors were among the documents found in the space once occupied by University Bakery. Thomas K. Marshall, husband of building owner and famed Tucson figure Louise Marshall, stashed the package when bakery owners Haffter and Son expanded their business.

Complete issues of the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Daily Citizen - now the Tucson Citizen - from May 1930 and University of Arizona publications were also found in yellowed but near perfect condition.

On the front page of the May 17, 1930 issue of the Tucson Daily Citizen, a headline read " 'Planet X' declared comet or asteroid by Dr. Nicholson."

"The so-called 'ninth planet' or 'Planet X' has been definitely degraded... to an asteroid or possibly a comet," the article stated about the planet Pluto.

The top story of an Arizona Daily Star from the same week focused on three young society women's newly announced engagements, and the accompanying social column revealed that a University of Arizona co-ed would be traveling to Phoenix for a sorority "rushing party."

Inside, an advertisement for a half-ton Chevy pickup truck listed the price of the vehicle, with amenities such as a front bumper and a 50-horsepower engine, at only $520. The Depression-era stock market report called the market "apathetic."

An advertisement for a new housing subdivision was also indicative of the times, listing that residents must be of the "Caucasian race" to own a home in the Country Club Manor area.

Even a glimpse of University of Arizona life could be seen in the Arizona KittyKat literary magazine and the annual Arizona Alumnus booklet.

Some of the items will be returned to posterity, Sherman said. Turn of the millennium memorabilia as well as a copy of the Arizona Daily Wildcat will be tucked away in a new time capsule behind the cornerstone of the building when the new shop is completed.

In 70 more years, another priceless discovery could be made.

"Sometimes you find things that are worth a lot more than money," Sherman said.

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