LeBaron: Suggestions for Santa Rosa’s about-to-be time capsule

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We are coming up on time capsule time again.

It’s been 50 years, half a century, two-and-a-half score, since we last buried a time capsule.

When it was opened earlier this year it was, I have to say, a disappointment — at least to me. There were hints of what the town was like in 1968, but if you only knew it from what was found in there you might think of Santa Rosa as a stuffy, bureaucratic, all-male community with not much fun and a scanty sense of humor.

Time capsules are what we choose to remember, or in the case of the one buried in 1968 what the town fathers, lord love ’em, chose to remember.

On Sept. 8, we will get another chance at profiling Santa Rosa for the future. The Historical Society of Santa Rosa will put that sealed container, filled with representative material, back into the underground vault in Old Courthouse Square.

The carefully selected contents, hopefully, will reflect what Santa Rosa is today — and how it got that way.

Not too many government documents, please. They will still be at our beck-and-call in cyberspace. Let’s have a little more of what life was like here from the 1960s to next month.


When individuals make conscious choices of memories, we pick all the good stuff: the wedding photos, the kids’ pictures, the vacations, all the happy times.

Let’s take a moment to think over the last 50 years and pick half a dozen things that should not be forgotten. (Feel free to make your own list.)

Any red, white and blue memento of America’s bicentennial — except perhaps, the crazy T-shirt with King George III on the front with the suggestion to “Reunite with the Crown,” which is rumored to have sold pretty well in the 13 original colonies;

The Redcoats, the young men who staged a Sports Banquet every year. Virtually every big name in every major sport gathered for a Santa Rosa weekend, making memories for thousands of young fans who now in their 50s and 60s still treasure the autographs and the memories;

A program from the Hi Fever Follies, that string of crazy benefits for Memorial Hospital that brought out the ham in every other person in town, including judges who could sing and doctors who could waltz;

The story of Henry’s Angels, the dozen families that bought the Christian Life Center and officiated at the birth of the Luther Burbank Center;

The Santa Rosa Symphony’s move to the spectacular Green Music Center and the triumph of “The Three Accents” — Don Green, Ruben Armiñana and Corrick Brown — to make the “Green Dream” come true; and

Clover Sonoma’s little book with all of Clo’s billboards including the one for cottage cheese called Clo’s Uncounters of the Curd Kind, ad man Jim Benefield’s championship triple pun.

Other possibilities include: a scrap of paper with a handwritten prayer from “Candy Bar Charlie,” the old guy who handed them out along with little packets of malt balls on downtown streets; a crowd shot of the 50 or more converted skeptics who gathered at Bill Quandt’s Golden Ear on Fourth Street (right next to Ling’s Furniture) to hear about a Bulgarian artist’s plans to hang a curtain from Cotati to the sea; a photo of the last five-person City Council; a pretty pink Rosenberg’s bag, and, of course, a photograph of Pepper.

Or maybe there should be a Fun-While-it-Lasted list of First Nights and Artriums and a “Hasta be Shasta” card recalling Nina Arrabit’s campaign to make Burbank’s daisy the national flower.

For today only, and not for posterity, let’s also consider a short list of grand plans, events and even disasters that can elicit “ohhh yeah” comments but be dismissed as passing thoughts. Interesting to remember, but nothing to treasure.

Would a capsule contain plans for a four-story office building in Courthouse Square? The seismograph reading from the ’69 earthquake?

The valve left open that leaked Santa Rosa’s wastewater into the Laguna and hence, the Russian River? A leftover length of pipe from the line to The Geysers? A sign from the Nazi rally in Franklin Park?

Ahh, the memories: A newspaper clipping about the day in ’88 that Mayor David Berto drank a glass of treated wastewater to prove it was safe; Dave turned 86 in June. Point taken.

Or the one about Sparky Schulz and his guests being turned away from the all-too-swanky new Hilton Hotel dining room because he was wearing a golf sweater not a jacket.

An Empire Breakfast Club joke — with every other line X’d out.


There has to be stuff with governmental overtones, I suppose, including projects and protests, experiments and “What were they thinking?” retrospectives, so we’d have to include:

An agenda for a meeting of The Committee to Close Third Street Too; A “Damn the Dam” bumper sticker.

A bright green T-shirt from Earth First.

A dried marigold from the plants Sawyer’s jewelers grew in the mud on Fourth Street as it blossomed into a “meandering” thoroughfare.

All the City Council minutes about plans to make it pedestrian-only.

A $25 (and up?) jaywalking ticket.

A photo of a bollard and maybe a bollard joke if a printable one could be found.

A photo — if available — of the short-lived pedestrian experience called “Scramble Traffic” which was in place at Fourth and D streets for a couple of crazy months: red lights in all directions, pedestrians walking every which way and stopping to dance in the middle.

A photo, if there is one, of those green emergency call boxes on downtown light poles that lasted a bit longer than “Scramble,” but not much.


Sometimes memories are just silly stuff like Sam the Shark’s cigar butt.

Or words to live by from a ladies’ room wall: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

Or Mark Cohen’s explanation of the sculpture in the mall plaza: “They said they wanted a palm.”

Or the envelope with the wrong address containing a promotional flier for the Lords of Burlesque, delivered to the YWCA.

Any of the infernal knock-knock jokes: “Sam and Janet Evening …”

Elmo and Patsy Shropshire’s odd sequel to their “grandma and reindeer” success: “Will You Be Ready at the Plate When Jesus Throws the Ball?” Sometimes the memories are just little bits of things that never leave us, the wordplay of Hatton Hulett, the elderly gent who moved here in the ’60s from “Torrance, where the rain comes down,” and created memories with his definitions of: Psycho-ceramic (a crackpot), or Reincarnation (when you pour the milk back in the can).

Dumb stuff. But it makes us smile.

And smiling is good, whatever the decade.

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