ST PETER — To paraphrase Forrest Gump, time capsules are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.
Employees and others at St. Peter Regional Treatment Center gathered Thursday in a campus gym for the unveiling of contents in a metal box sealed shut March 3, 1961.
The container embedded in a wall in Shantz Hall was freed in February by a crew doing renovation work on the building.
Center staff always knew the capsule was there — a plaque placed on the wall in ’61 bore that out — and Special Services Supervisor Jaime Fromm said she’d long been anticipating its removal.
The work crew exploited her eager anticipation in February by handing her the purported capsule — a box that had prankishly been filled with building tile fragments.
The real deal was brought out Thursday, and after some quick introductory remarks, maintenance supervisor Pat Kennedy produced a heat gun and began melting the container’s solder sealant.
Fromm joked that she hoped this wouldn’t be a “Geraldo moment,” a reference to Geraldo Rivera’s ballyhooed 1986 TV special on the opening of Al Capone’s sealed vault that produced a whole lot of nothing.
After nearly 10 minutes of heating, the lid was loosened and lifted by Martin Larson, a center employee from 1950 to 1981.
The contents? No need for a drum roll.
Just some old photos, brochures, a map, assorted documents, and a ring of keys carrying a tag embossed with the name of its owner, Claude Alm, who worked at the facility from 1913 to 1953.