Flashback: Beaver Brook Playground time capsules show life in 1989 Abington

One by one, remnants from life in Abington, circa 1989, were pulled from their 33-year-old tomb.

A Bart Simpson t-shirt. A neon Pepsi can.  A book on how to beat Nintendo games. A farmers almanac. Pages and pages of notes carefully prepared on a word processor.  Thick newspapers that actually contained pages of local community news.

The Beaver Brook Playground Committee last Saturday night formally unveiled the contents of five time capsules that had been buried when the original wooden playground opened more than three decades ago.

Perhaps most remarkable was how well preserved the materials are.  The 1989 playground committee used heavy duty PVC pipes that were capped. Some of the contents were in sealed plastic bags. The thoughtful preparation worked. A large yellow and brown Beaver Brook Playground banner smelled a bit musty, but the newspapers looked like they had just come off the press. 

Back in 1989, the town had four elementary schools: Center, North, Beaver Brook, and Woodsdale. Each school had its own time capsules that was filled with artwork and thoughts from students. The pages emerged clean, dry, and readable; they are currently being inserted into protective sleeves and binders so students – now adults – can revisit them.

The Beaver Brook Playground was built at a time when many towns built large, sprawling, wooden play structures using community construction crews.  The time capsules contained news clippings and committee notes journaling the fundraising and construction effort.

Over the years many towns took down the wooden structures because of wear and tear, concerns about chemicals in the pressure treated lumber, among other reasons. The wooden Beaver Brook Playground was one of the last of its kind in the area. But the town’s public works department last year said it had reached the end of its lifespan and needed to be replaced.

The Beaver Brook Playground Committee has been working for more than a year to design a new playground.

The old structure was demolished this past September and the first phase is in place. The total cost of the project, including disposal of the old lumber, is about $440,000, according to Recreation Director Kelly Johnson. Town Meeting has so far approved $350,000 in Community Preservation Act funds.  The committee is also in the process of raising private donations. 

The time capsule contents will be preserved by and available to be seen at the Dyer Memorial Library.

Beaver Brook Playground Committee member Kim Russell and Recreation Director Kelly Johnson unfurl a banner from one of the 1989 time capsules.
Beaver Brook Playground Committee member Kim Russell hold up a poster from a meadow muffin contest that was held to raise money for the 1989 structure.
Recreation Director Kelly Johnson reaches into one of the 1989 time capsules.
Some of the student papers included in the time capsules from 1989 have already been placed into protective sheets.
The Beaver Brook Playground Committee fundraiser featured dozens of raffle and silent auction prizes.
A letter from the original Beaver Brook Playground committee that was included in one of the 1989 time capsules.
A letter from the original Beaver Brook Playground committee that was included in one of the 1989 time capsules.
A newspaper article from 1989 that was included in the time capsules.
A selection of 1989-era items that were included in a time capsule.
A selection of 1989-era items that were included in a time capsule.
Beaver Brook Playground Committee member Kim Russell holds a poster from a carnival that was included in one of the 1989 time capsules.
The time capsules included project documents such as this schematic
Beaver Brook Playground Committee member Kim Russell holds one of the 1989 newspapers that were included in the time capsules.
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