An afternoon 50 years in the making

A half-century-old time capsule is unearthed in midtown Raleigh

RALEIGH — Hundreds of Raleigh residents, current and former, gathered at North Hills Thursday hoping for a glimpse of their childhood.The unearthing of a time capsule buried in 1967 was held this week after decades of development in midtown Raleigh area built up around the small plaque marking its location. Inside, the damp items included recordings of WPTF radio programs, film reels and old newspapers. The documents also included a vital statistics record of Raleigh’s police complaints.”Hopefully no one here is on this list,” joked Bonner Gaylord, managing director of North Hills, as he and developer John Kane delicately pulled the items out one by one. The documents also included a key to the city, a bank statement from BB&T, and movie tickets to the Cardinal Theatre, an institution once at the site of the time capsule. The Cardinal was a center of social life in Raleigh’s 1967 but closed in the mid-1980s.For Peyton Reed, Raleigh native and film maker, the time capsule captured not just a glimpse at his past, but also pinpointed a time when he saw his future. He drew a lifetime of inspiration from the images on the Cardinal’s two screens. Reed is best known for directing the comedy films “Down with Love,” “Yes Man,” “Bring It On” and “The Break-Up,” as well as the superhero film “Ant-Man.” But to the crowd at North Hills he is a friend from high school, the kid down the street, a college buddy and a piece of the city’s living history.”I saw ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ here 23 times,” he told the crowd. “This theater had such a huge influence on me and what I wanted to do for a living, I had to be here to honor it.”Many of the people there for the unearthing outside what is now a Verizon store and Bonefish Grill remembered visiting the Cardinal during Raleigh’s hot summers, looking for a cool place to sit with $1 bags of popcorn. Mothers used to drop kids off at the theater on hot afternoons while they shopped in the up-and-coming North Hills area. Sue Perry was even there when the capsule was buried in 1967.”I brought my daughter, who was 6 years old, up the street pulling her in a little red wagon because it was very crowded, but it was very exciting,” said Perry, who now lives in the nearby Cardinal at North Hills senior living facility. “My two big boys and my 6-year-old attended this movie theater every time the show changed.”Paul Dean, now living in Baton Rouge, La., grew up in Raleigh and was a teenager when his mom used to let him visit the late-night showings at the Cardinal.”I saw ‘Night of the Living Dead’ here and it scared me,” he said. “I still don’t like zombie movies because of that. But those late night movies were pretty wild. People really let loose.”A lot of the people on hand for the unveiling were not even a twinkle in someone’s eye at the time that the Cardinal was humming with activity. But they say they will be there for the next unveiling, in 2067. The time capsule will be reburied, this time with items to commemorate 2017. Among them were a copy of Walter Magazine, a lifestyle publication that documents the midtown area.”It’s a real honor to be a part of it,” said Walter editor Jesma Reynolds. “Who knows if print will be considered a lost art by then.”Also reburied were a mini Carolina Hurricanes hockey stick, a yearbook from St. Timothy’s School, documents from the Midtown Raleigh Alliance, the Raleigh Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Kane Realty, and a fidget spinner. Some of the kids there had some ideas for the next time capsule.”I think fidget spinners and an iPhone should definitely go in there,” said Emmaline Williams, 11, of Raleigh.For Raleigh twins Cassidy and Sydney Orr, 16, Birkenstocks, overalls and off-the-shoulder blouses are critical items to represent 2017. Their modern fashion ideas brought chuckles from nearby eavesdroppers who said some parts of fashion and culture never seem to go out of style, just like North Hills itself, whether it’s a movie theater or a coffee shop that is bringing them in.”Actually, my friends and I still come to North Hills on summer afternoons to hang out, so I guess not much has changed,” said Sydney.