UK reveals items found in mysterious 1956 time capsule; it will be reburied with new items

jwarren@herald-leader.comApril 28, 2014 

Sometimes the past is not as far away as we might think.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said he was delighted to find the name of his Alabama high school football coach listed in the contents of a mysterious 1956 time capsule unearthed last fall on the UK campus. The items were unveiled Monday.

Capilouto said Billy Livings, who played on the 1956 UK football team, later coached him in Alabama. Livings' name was listed on the UK football team roster in a Sept, 22, 1956, copy of the old Lexington Herald newspaper that was in the time capsule.

"You can't make these things up," said Capilouto, who stays in touch with Livings' widow.

The capsule, which demolition workers uncovered in September, apparently was placed in a foundation or a wall at UK's old Coop erstown residence complex by parties unknown in 1956.

The capsule's origins are a mystery.

UK officials said Monday that they've been unable to find any campus records mentioning the capsule or those who buried it. They think it was buried on or about Sept. 22, 1956.

According to officials, the rusted metal box was wrapped in a piece of cracked, green oilcloth. The items inside it, however, were in remarkably good condition.

In addition to old newspapers, they included a 1955-56 UK course catalog, a 1956 Lexington phone directory, a campus map and a student housing guide.

Now, UK officials plan to rebury the items, along with some UK mementos from 2014, in a new time capsule that will be placed between the new Woodland Glen I and Woodland Glen II student residences near the library. The new capsule is to be reopened in 2064.

In addition to the old materials, the new capsule will include April 28, 2014, copies of the Herald-Leader, Kentucky Kernel and Courier-Journal; a 2014 NCAA Final Four shirt; a current UK map and university financial statements; and letters from Capilouto and UK Student Government Association president Roshan Palli.

Capilouto said the contents of the 1956 time capsule were intriguing.

"We found an entire schedule of classes ... it's a lot thinner than the classes of 2014," he said. "In 1956, we had just six colleges."

Capilouto noted that UK expected up to 6,400 students in 1956. "Sounds like the size of our freshman class today," he said.

Also, he pointed out that the 1956 newspapers were reporting on racial unrest triggered by efforts to integrate black students into schools in Sturgis, Ky.

When the new time capsule is opened in 50 years, the UK campus "will be dramatically transformed," Capilouto said, but the university still would be playing its role of educating Kentucky students.

"In profound ways," he said, "we will remain the commonwealth's indispensable institution for the next 50 years and beyond."

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @hlpublicsafety.

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