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Centennial time capsule unearthed in Fruitport Saturday

Becky Vargo • May 4, 2019 at 4:59 PM

FRUITPORT — A small crowd gathered at the corner of Park and Third streets, in front of the Fruitport Library Saturday afternoon as members of the former Fruitport Historical Society unearthed a 50-year-old time capsule.

Local resident Don Haack used his small tractor, hooked a chain to the 4-foot brass cylinder and pulled it from the ground shortly after 3 p.m. The cylinder was wrapped in plastic and coated with a tarry-looking substance that longtime Fruitport and now Spring Lake resident Jerry Alger said shouldn’t have been on there.

Alger and Art Aldridge, both members of the Historical Society, were involved with the original burying of the time capsule during the Fruitport Centennial Celebration on June 22, 1969.

“I’m pretty emotional,” said Alger as some residents glanced at the items visible in the top of the capsule after it was opened. “This is good.”

Alger said he didn’t think the capsule was filled all the way and was surprised that it almost overflowed the vessel.

Items at the top of the capsule included a pack of Winston cigarettes, pamphlets and bulletins from the centennial celebration, a pair of dress shoes signed by “Mrs. Russell Hill,” and some advertising materials.

“I helped bury it. I didn’t think I would be here to open it,” said the 79-year-old Aldridge who has lived in Fruitport since the mid-1940s. “I didn’t remember what was in here,” he said as he sorted through the items at the top. It was a big surprise.”

Historical Society member Brian Zwart said he paired up with Alger about seven years ago while writing a thesis on Fruitport. The men formed the Historical Society with Aldridge and Bob Beaton.

“This was one of our last projects,” said Zwart, who served as president of the Historical Society, which no longer meets. “It’s nice to finally get it open. And for it to be overflowing is amazing.”

Alger said the men planned to move the capsule to another location, document the contents and scan some of the photos.

“We’ll clean and polish the capsule and then it will all be on display at the Village Pharmacy through Old Fashioned Days, (May 23-27),” Alger said.

He will be collecting small items to put in the time capsule when it is reburied on June 22, 2019, the anniversary of the centennial burial.

“We plan on replacing everything we document and add some new stuff to it,” Alger said. Anyone with small items they would like to put in the time capsule can contact Alger by calling 616-384-3357.

When the time capsule is buried, a polished stone bench with a commemorative engraving will mark the spot. The plaque from the centennial will be saved.

Donations for the bench were contributed by Busche Foundry, Excel Propane, Superior Monument and Sandie and Michael DeYoung.

The Village of Fruitport was organized in 1869 and the size of the Village is one mile square. According to the Village website, the population is approximately 1,100. 

The Village of Spring Lake is also celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2019.

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