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Classmates reunite to examine time capsules buried in 1986

A group of former Spokane elementary school students reunited Monday to open three time capsules buried in 1986, bringing a flashback of the Ronald Reagan era, Brat Pack movies and leg warmers.

The capsules were an assignment for 15 sixth-graders from throughout Spokane Public Schools who were in a talented-and-gifted class together. The cookie tin and two plastic containers were buried in Riverside State Park.

“We originally said we were going to wait 30 or 40 years, but one of our teachers (Linda Andrews) was afraid she wouldn’t be around that long, so we set a date for July 4, 2010,” said Garrett Smith, one of the students who buried the capsules 24 years ago.

Smith, who is an aerospace engineer in Toulouse, France, started looking for the other students earlier this year. Through Facebook and archived newspapers on the Internet, he found all but one.

The Independence Day reunion was a go, but there was one hiccup: After five attempts, no one could find the containers.

A hand-drawn map gave the location – 1,037 paces from the picnic area next to the suspended bridge, “but it was hard to remember how big the paces were or who paced them out,” Smith said.

After the summer reunion was canceled, Smith’s mom and brother found the containers. Four of the former students sifted through the items at a restaurant on Monday.

Among the items were a 22-cent stamp; a copy of The Spokesman-Review dated May 19, 1986, with a price tag of 25 cents; masks made in class; a glass marble; Avon catalogs; a toy race car; Polaroids in which girls wore leg warmers and stirrup pants; dental floss and Popsicle sticks.

“We were in the sixth grade, so what do you expect?” said Wade Gelhausen, another former student and a civil engineer in Spokane.

Smith added, “It was all the fads when we were kids.”

Shauna Harshman, who is a house manager for Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, said she was surprised at how big a deal Avon was then.

Smith said he found it interesting how much his group thought things would change, and that the items they buried would be more historic. A watch, for example, came with this note: “This is a watch we wear on our wrist.”

The items will be returned to the students who donated them.