Macomb County Council on Aging board President Sarah DeDonatis, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and board member Cindy Sue Donahue look through items from a time capsule opened Sept. 27 for the first time in 30 years in Clinton Township.

Macomb County Council on Aging board President Sarah DeDonatis, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel and board member Cindy Sue Donahue look through items from a time capsule opened Sept. 27 for the first time in 30 years in Clinton Township.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Time capsule opened after 30 years

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published October 2, 2018

 An unknown woman wrote a note in September 1987 hoping that health care would be improved by 2018.

An unknown woman wrote a note in September 1987 hoping that health care would be improved by 2018.

Photo by Donna Agusti

 Hackel works on removing the lid from the vault.

Hackel works on removing the lid from the vault.

Photo by Donna Agusti

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On Sept. 27, outside the Verkuilen Building in Clinton Township, a time capsule from 1988 was dug up and opened. The event coincided with the Macomb County Council on Aging’s 50th anniversary.

The capsule, which looked like a vault or coffin, was buried well below ground, near a sidewalk. When opened, its contents were in rather remarkable shape. 

When the top was finally pulled off, attendees rushed to see what was inside. It was a mixed bag of pop culture, multimedia and technology.

There was a “Where’s the Beef?” pin, with the slogan made famous by a 1980s Wendy’s ad campaign. 

Other items included an owl for wisdom, an AARP newsletter, a couple of old newspapers, a gavel and a floppy disk.

One person, whose name was unidentifiable, wrote a handwritten note on Sept. 8, 1987: “I hope that by 2018, you have a national health care system. We in 1987 sure need better health care.”

The morning was especially rewarding for couple Ed and MaryAnn Chrzanowski, of Roseville, who have been married about 32 years.

Ed, the older brother of former Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Mary Chrzanowski, put something special in the capsule about 30 years ago. In those days, he worked for the now defunct Hamilton Funeral Home in Mount Clemens, and one day, he received a call about the agency proposing the idea of a time capsule.

Ed called the Detroit Wilbert Vault Corporation, who made the vault and sealed it. The county did the rest.

Minutes prior to the unveiling, Ed said he put a letter in the vault that he wanted MaryAnn to have. He said she originally gave it to him as a gift, and as he put it, “I’m redeeming the gift.”

“I still got the original article at home,” Ed said. “I keep reminding her, ‘Don’t forget, if I die, there’s something buried in there that’s for you.’”

MaryAnn said she has asked time and time again over the years, just receiving the response, “You’ll find out soon enough.” She was clueless about the letter, and when she finally saw it decades later, she gave her husband a kiss.

Sarah DeDonatis, the board president of the Macomb County Council on Aging, said she and local seniors had been waiting for the vault to open for a long time.

Some of the contents extended beyond generations. For example, some council members wrote letters 30 years ago that were meant for their great-grandchildren. She said the agency would attempt to reach out to such individuals, likely via social media, to inform them of the unearthing.

It was a somewhat bittersweet event for the organization, though. The Macomb County Council on Aging, due to what officials call “changing climates and far-reaching senior service agencies” throughout the county, looks as if it will cease to exist by December of this year, according to DeDonatis.

“We have a long 50-year history of being part of Macomb County, of offering something that didn’t exist to help others build something that really exists today — which is a lot of support and services for our senior population in Macomb County,” she said. “We are a premier county for senior help, senior information, and we are very proud of that legacy.”