The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Strange Discovery

Mystery of the Time Capsule

Last fall Amherst College workers were digging near the historic Hitchcock House (above) when they made a startling discovery - a water pitcher with a plastic bag inside it. The mysterious bag was filled with objects, a listing of which was recently released by the college. Exactly who buried it or why is unknown, although the college is investigating based on a variety of clues left behind.

Time Capsule Contents

Discovered November 12, 2008 during excavations adjacent to Hitchcock House, formerly Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house. Probably buried October 1964.

• All items were placed in a clear plastic bag inside a metal serving pitcher of the sort probably used in the Alpha Delta Phi dining room.

• Student ID, [name omitted], 1963-1964

• A contemporary (fall 1964) issue of The New Republic magazine; cover headline reads “How Goes the Campaign?”

• A Pelican paperback edition of Shakespeare’s King Lear

• Music program: “Concert by the Amherst College Glee Club and the Oneonta State Women’s Glee Club, Assisted by the Amherst College Collegium Musicum,” Saturday, December 7, 1963 in Kirby Theater.

• You’re Out of Your Mind, Charlie Brown! (paperback)

• Issue of The Amherst Student, October 8, 1964

• Small banner or strip in day-glo red with black letters. Only legible text reads “FOR T”

Amherst's Ultimate Treasure

Nothing found in the recently found time capsule can hold a candle to the most valuable item in Amherst College's historical collection. It came to the college unexpectedly in 1983.

In April 1983 William R. Bailey, of Middletown, Ohio, learned that Amherst College had some connection to Dickinson. He wasn’t sure what it was, so he called the college to see if someone could tell him something about the poet and to ask whether the college would be interested in some Dickinson-related items he had. After his call was passed around a bit, Bailey ended up with John Lancaster, who worked in the Archives and Special Collections. After talking with Lancaster, Bailey clearly understood the nature of the library’s connection with Dickinson. So, on April 18, 1983, William Bailey gave Amherst a letter, personal and affectionate, from Dickinson to her lifelong friend Emily Fowler (later Ford), who was away from Amherst. The letter made the biggest splash at the time, but Bailey also gave Amherst a shiny ringlet of Dickinson’s striking auburn hair, which the poet had sent to Emily Fowler in 1853. Today, it is this lock of hair that has the biggest impact on how we “see” the poet.

Later a painting was commissioned for Sunderland artist Guillermo Cuéllarto to portray Emily for the first time as she really looked. "Most people have a color-blind image of Emily Dickinson since there was only one daguerreotype that portrays the poet in varying shades of gray," said the artist. "For example, I did not know that she was a redhead."

Happy Easter!

I'm not a Christian, but I am all about rebirth, renewal and second chances, so I'm totally into the spirit of Easter. So is Sam's in downtown Northampton, which closed for the day.

There was an early Easter morning crowd at the Haymarket.

Faces had silver people springing out of flowers.

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