By Seth Gatewood
This year, on Independence Day, after 50 years of anticipation, the City of Martin revealed the time capsule’s contents to the general public.
The ceremony was held on the grounds of the C.E. Wheldon building. It included a speech from Randy Brundige, the mayor of Martin, and featured speakers dressed up in the styles of the previous decades. Towards the end of the ceremony, a birthday cake for Martin was presented, and after some photos were taken, the cake was moved back into the building to be served to the public.
After the ceremony ended, the community was invited into the C.E. Wheldon building to view the contents of the time capsule and other items on display. But Martin was fortunate to have anything to present at all.
“We were lucky,” Brundige said. “The main thing about time capsules now, which they didn’t know then, is to keep it waterproof and preserve the materials. I’ve heard of other cities opening up their time capsules, and nothing is left except mud and gunk. They sealed this one pretty good. We might have lost a little, but most of it was well-preserved. Everything is readable.”
Some of the more notable items from the time capsule are a letter from President Nixon congratulating the City of Martin for lasting one hundred years, a package addressed to the future pastor of Central Baptist Church, and a letter from the then governor of Tennessee. Brundige said his favorite item from the lot was a baseball.
“One of my favorite things from the time capsule was a baseball from the St. Louis Cardinals when they played the Montreal Expos,” Brundige said. “The ball was [from] the first pitch in the game and was given to the mayor and the aldermen at that ballgame. It was signed [with the ballgame information] at the Centurial and put in the time capsule.
“It was in good shape, and people could still read it. The writing on the ball was addressed to Mayor Cliff Weldon, who was still the mayor then.”
At the current moment, a new time capsule is being made. The mayor and City Hall are currently accepting donations from community members.
“We’ll accept anything. I know something from me, and the board of aldermen will be in there. I got a poster from the Roy Band that was autographed to me that I will put in there,” Brundige said. “Just let us know anything you think would be memorable to you and the community, and we can keep onto it until we’re ready to put it into the capsule.”
“At the moment, we are just gathering stuff. We’re just asking people to donate, and then, later, we’ll replant the time capsule. We haven’t chosen the location yet, but we will.”
Another item on display was a timeline of the city, spanning from the 1800s to the present day. As the decades have passed from one to the other, many changes have taken place in Martin. From the abandonment of the downtown area in the 1980s and the 1990s to the revitalization of downtown in the 2010s, things have changed in Martin, and people have changed along with them.
“It’s a different kind of world now,” Brundige said. “Technology is taking over everything. I didn’t know what a computer was back in the 1970s. No one did. This is a different age, and in fifty years, it’ll be another different age. A lot of stuff we have now will be relics. That’s just the changing of the times.
“You’ll see a big change in the next 50 years. Everyone is advancing in knowledge, and technology is advancing more and more every day. And during these times, we want to see Martin grow. We would like to see more businesses come to Martin. Not corporate businesses but more individually owned, larger scale businesses.”
Currently, the displays at the C.E. Weldon building are not available to the public due to insufficient volunteers to run the exhibit or a concise schedule planned out yet. The displays will open to the public again on an unspecified future date. If you have any donations for the new time capsule, call Martin City Hall at 731-587-3126, and they will help you arrange a way to get the donations to them.