While 2020 is a year many of us may want to forget, a time capsule is being assembled to make sure it will always be remembered.

“Capturing History, Evanston 2020” is a project of the Evanston History Center. Community residents are being asked to donate memorabilia for a trunk-sized time capsule, which will be opened in January 2031.

Masks (laundered, of course), photos, schoolwork (done remotely, no doubt) and political and social justice signs are among the potential items the Center is looking for.

While some time capsules are not opened for a half-century or more, Eden Juron Pearlman, the center’s executive director, says the ten-year time frame for this capsule was deliberate.

“We want to enjoy this,” she says. “We don’t want it so far away that everyone will forget about it.”

And when the time capsule is opened, Pearlman expects spectators to gasp “Oh my God, I remember that.”

Pearlman says there are documents which talk of a time capsule associated with the 1968 construction of the State National Bank tower at 1603 Orrington Ave. downtown.

That capsule was supposed to be opened this year, but, Pearlman says, “nobody knows anything about it.” Maybe the capsule was buried and forgotten, maybe it never actually was put together, but Pearlman wants to make sure the History Center’s project will be seen and remembered.

“We made a very conscious decision not to bury it,” she says. The History Center’s capsule will be “locked in a secure but visible location” in the Center’s home at Dawes House until it is opened.

Pearlman says a jury of “first line workers,” perhaps police officers and nurses, for example, will decide which community-contributed artifacts will go in the trunk.

Perlman hopes that what to donate can become part of a family conversation. That way children will be able to look back at this truly unusual time which is shaping the world of their future.

“Will people focus on the negative, like the virus, or the positive, such as walks and family time?” Pearlman wonders. If she were to contribute something (assuming the jury accepts it), Pearlman says it would be a pan she and her family have used to make pizza at home. “We went from frozen pizza, to making our own dough, to our own sauce, to our own toppings” during the various stay-indoors periods, she says.

With the coronavirus vaccine now on the horizon, the beginning of the end of the pandemic may be near. “I hope,” says Perlman, “we will never see anything like this again.” But we do need to remember what our lives were like during it.

Reservations can be made to drop off memorabilia at the Dawes House on specified dates this month or next. There is no charge, but a $10 donation is suggested to help cover the cost of the project. For more details, go to the History Center’s website at evanstonhistorycenter.org.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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