Thursday, April 15, 2004

Lucky Pocket Piece? In 1929, it fell short



By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WESTWOOD - A piece of local history was unearthed Wednesday as the contents of a 75-year-old time capsule buried under an old bank were revealed.

One of the pieces that got a few chuckles was a Cooper Lucky Pocket Piece with an inscription that read "Good for two years of prosperity in Ohio."

"They had no idea of the irony when they put that inside," said Ruby Rogers, director of the Cincinnati Historical Society, who assisted with the opening. The stock market crashed later that year - 1929 - leading to the Great Depression.

The capsule was found last year during the demolition of what was originally the Westwood Savings Bank at Harrison and Boudinot avenues. The building was demolished to make way for a new Walgreens store.

Members of the Westwood Civic Association worked with developers to save portions of the original limestone for future use as a decorative streetscape structure. While removing the limestone, someone noticed the time capsule sealed inside the cornerstone.

More than 50 people showed up to witness the capsule opening at Wilade Mansion in front of Judson Village Retirement Community on Harrison Avenue. They watched eagerly for several minutes as members of the Westwood Historical Society and Cincinnati Museum Center carefully cut open the shoebox-size copper container and removed the items inside.

Among the contents of the time capsule buried in 1929 were business cards from several neighborhood vendors, a May 14, 1929, edition of the Enquirer, a Feb. 1 edition of the Western Hills Press, about a dozen photos - some of the Harrison Avenue streetscape - bank pamphlets and money, including a 1905 Canadian quarter.

"I cannot get over the condition of these items. They are very well-preserved," Rogers said.

Residents found another irony amusing as well. The opening of the Westwood time capsule came one week before the 18th anniversary of when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone's vault on TV and found nothing inside.

"Our opening was certainly better than his," joked Carol Wood, secretary of the Westwood Historical Society.

Liz Kissel, president of the Westwood Historical Society, said members of the neighborhood council would decide soon what to do with the contents of the capsule. Kissel said Westwood residents would place a time capsule of their own on a traffic island at Harrison and Boudinot avenues.

"They planted a seed in our minds," Kissel said.

E-mail kaldridge@enquirer.com




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