Promises kept, memories secured as bank’s 1964 time capsule is recovered

Robert Francis


Eddie Gale fulfilled his promise. Family legend had it that, 50 years ago, construction worker Gale had placed a letter for his family in a time capsule buried at the then-City National Bank building at 5651 East Lancaster.

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But family legends are sometimes just that: legends. 

In attendance at the time of the capsule’s burial were Fort Worth Mayor Pro Tem Willard Barr, future mayor and father of future mayor Kenneth Barr; Milt Atkinson, manager of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce; W. A. Craig, bank president; and Earl R. Waddell Sr., the bank’s chairman of the board.

It was early on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 26, in 1964, just a few short months after North Texas and the nation had been shattered by the death of President Kennedy, slain just a few miles to the east. Into the time capsule went a copy of the New Testament and Psalms; editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Fort Worth Press (“58 die when jet dives into Pontchartrain,” the Press’ headline screamed); special tape recordings of President Kennedy’s last speech delivered in Fort Worth; a WBAP newsreel; photographs of the ceremony (undeveloped) and other items of local and historical significance.

The capsule was constructed of steel and lined with lead. It was buried on the southeast side of the building, welded shut and buried in concrete. Not to be tampered with. Stamped into the metal cover: “City National Bank Time Capsule. To be opened 2014 A.D. Fort Worth. 1964.” Now 50 years have passed, and so, on Wednesday, Aug. 27, Bank of America’s Fort Worth President Mike Pavell and Fort Worth City Council member Gyna Bivens were among the dignitaries at the event to open the capsule. “We’re glad to still be an active part of the community,” said Pavell to the crowd of about 50 that gathered to witness the ceremony. Attendees included local community leaders, the owner of the building, Ramin Siroosian, students from St. Rita Catholic School, and an honor guard from Eastern Hills High School.

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Along with the listed items coming out of the time capsule was what looked like a brown sock stuffed with, well, something. “A dog toy?” Pavell asked. Officials later speculated the sock and material inside may have been there to absorb moisture. There were photos of the original groundbreaking for the 23,000 square-foot building. There was also a City National Bank balance sheet from Dec. 31, 1963. Also in the capsule were a few items of a more personal nature, several sealed envelopes of correspondence addressed to the children, grandchildren and/or relatives of the writers. That was what Mark Gale, a United Healthcare employee who lives in Arlington, was there to see. “Family legend always had it that our grandfather left a letter in a time capsule,” said Gale. “Now we know. He did. Now we’ll get together and read it.”