A Comedy of Errors: The Fumbling of the Denton Time Capsule

When Denton musician Glen Farris arrived at the corner of S. Locust and E. Hickory Street on the morning of September 12 and uploaded an Instagram photo of Denton's familiar First State Bank plaque, people embraced it and spread its viral joy.

The brass plaque observed September 12 as the 100-year anniversary of the now-defunct First State Bank and the 20-year mark of its 1992 time capsule burial, although, to his surprise, no work crews were to be seen. There was, however, an excess of bad '90s puns regarding the contents of the capsule on Facebook.

"It was shocking that simple directions like 'open this thing at this time' could literally be hammered into metal and set into stone in full view of the public for 20 years and still get completely missed," Farris says.

Later that night, he decided to make a Facebook event called "See You At the Capsule," scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on September 13 to commemorate Denton's failure, and declare September 12 an unofficial city holiday, "Time Capsule Awareness Day." District One City Council Member Kevin Roden was in attendance and later uploaded what he calls a "tongue-in-cheek" video of the event to his official blog.

The next morning, Farris' friend also noticed the bank's oversight and called to inquire.

"A citizen, and friend of mine, called First State Bank and Mayor Burroughs," Farris says. "First State Bank initially said they had no idea what she was talking about, then called her back a little later and said it had been 'postponed.'"

What was supposed to be taken in jest, and inspire a sense of community, was instead perceived by bank officials as a humorless accident worth worrying about.

"They were a little worried that there might be protesters showing up," Roden says. "I don't think this issue is catching anyone's deep emotional needs to really take it that seriously. I'm not really worried about that."

As if straight out of a mockumentary, there was indeed nothing to worry about at 8 a.m. on the morning of September 20, as six men in hardhats gathered at the site to excavate what Roden says could have been a "standing tradition of coming together." Glen Farris stood alone at the site, capturing images of the action with his phone and uploading them to Facebook, as before.

"No one expects anything that grand to be in the capsule," Roden explains, "which is why my argument has been to leave it in the ground and let us sit there with an outdated time capsule that will never be opened, and at least we'll have a talking piece." Out of half a dozen Denton residents polled, all agree.

After attempting to personally inquire about the date of the capsule's planned excavation, I was redirected three times via e-mail. I was even told by one worker that they "would rather [I] not use [their] name when talking to Wells Fargo," so as not to make the bank think that they were "interfering."

It got even more awkward when I received a call from a fourth person, identifying themselves as a Wells Fargo public relations representative, who was calling in response to an e-mail that I originally sent a completely different person. When I asked if they knew who decided to go ahead with the excavation yesterday morning, the person defensively retorted, "What's behind this question? What do you really want to know?"

For those interested in quelling their curiosities about whether slap bracelets, VHS cleaning kits, or perhaps the instructions to opening the capsule are buried inside the time capsule, the industrious bank man says there will be a "controlled setting" for viewing the items sometime in October. Brace yourselves, y'all.

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