The year 1972, like most years, wasn’t without interest. I know. I was there when it happened as a senior in high school.
You had “The Godfather” premiere, you had Nixon trouncing McGovern, you had the arcade release of the Pong video game, you had Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the moon, you had the Munich Massacre at the Olympics and The Troubles in Northern Ireland. Not to mention all the outdated gadgets that are now long gone, many of which have been made obsolete by today’s iPhone, as opposed to a 50-year-old rotary phone that couldn’t even help you navigate traffic.
The small crowd that attended a Monday afternoon opening of a time capsule buried at 100 Oceangate in Downtown in 1972 was largely filled with people who were alive 50 years ago when the capsule was buried in honor of the dedication of the Oceangate Tower and Plaza by the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency (RDA, as old-timers wistfully recall it).
As time capsules go, this one was horribly disappointing unless you’re a collector—an inordinately avid collector— of real estate and Port of Long Beach ephemera, because most of the items in the box (almost-dug-up in advance before workers struggled with the rest of the digging up on Monday) were scraps of paper relating to the first of the buildings to be erected at the Oceangate complex and its plaza, along with a smattering of photos and pamphlets that probably weren’t very interesting a half century ago and they haven’t grown more compelling while sitting in a box for 50 years.
The box featured a lot of things I have in my garage, souvenirs and miscellaneous trinkets. If I was better organized I might have thrown them out by now because they don’t exactly spark joy in me.
Instead of interesting items that may have been puzzling and amusing to people under the age of, say, 30, the mystery box contained an awful lot of Port of Long Beach documents along with a press kit from Oceangate developer Boise-Cascade, the RDA plan for the area, initially called West Beach Development, a handful of grant deeds, a lot of photo books and souvenir programs from the Historical Society of Long Beach and long-gone beauty contests and a tie from the Port of Long Beach to be given to the current executive director, Mario Cordero, who just happened to be in the audience along with City Manager Tom Modica, 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson and emcee Amy Bodek, former director of Development Services as well as former director of the Redevelopment Agency.
To say that the tie was the most interesting thing in the box does not mean it was an interesting tie.
There was a lot of speechifying in advance of the box-opening, which was almost as exciting as the main event. The highlight for me was a brief conversation with Brett Bixby, whose forebears once owned most of the land in Long Beach. He attended and assisted with the burial of the box in 1972 when he was 4, along with his little brother Grant (also in attendance) who was 1 and his older brother, the late Mark Bixby, who was 6.
He said he didn’t remember much about that day but that it seemed pretty cool. It’s funny how you sometimes remember things as having been cooler than they actually were.