By Jordan Cohen
With the help of a regional metal-detecting club, volunteers will begin searching at 6 p.m. Monday in the hopes of locating and recovering a time capsule buried near the old Niles McKinley High School by the Class of 1964.
The Vindicator reported Saturday that time is running out for the search according to Interim Superintendent Frank Danso, who asked for volunteers with metal detectors. Demolition of the old building, which closed earlier this month, begins this summer, and the superintendent fears recovery of the artifact at that point will be nearly impossible.
“We’ve gotten plenty of calls from people who read the article and want to help,” Danso said. One of the callers was the president of the Tri-County Metal Detecting Club based in Cortland.
“I think we’re going to have at least five of our members there with metal detectors,” said Larry “Jesse” James, club president. “We think we’ve got a pretty good chance of finding it if it isn’t buried too deep.”
James said the club, with more than 50 members, helps people find lost valuables and offers to assist police and fire departments with evidence searches. “We’re not here just to look for loose change,” he said.
A member of the class of 1964, Judy Orwig Tackach of McKinley Heights, said she remembers watching her fellow classmates bury the capsule in a metal box near the statue of William McKinley in the front of the building. “They were so close that their [bodies] were practically brushing against the statue,” she said.
“Years later, we tried to find it after one of our reunions, and we had a metal detector at the time, but we couldn’t.”
Tackach said she recalls the capsule contained a yearbook, ribbons with slogans to beat Niles’ opponents and other football-related material. She also remembers a record being placed in the capsule, but is not sure if it was recorded by The Beatles or another artist who may have been popular in 1964.
The lawn where the capsule was buried has been replaced with cement and that could pose a problem during Monday’s search. James explained that cement may contain a composition of copper or other minerals that could cause the detectors to emit false signals.
“However if we do get a signal that looks promising, we can grid an area and dig based on that,” James said. “I was told by the superintendent that if we think we’ve found it, they can get the concrete removed.”
James warned that the depth of the capsule may also make locating it impossible. “If it’s more than three feet down, our detectors may not find it,” James said.
Danso said the capsule and its contents, if recovered, will be prominently displayed in the new high school, which opened April 9.