It was a peek back through time. Fifty-six years to be exact.
On Friday, officials from the San Diego History Center and the San Diego Superior Court opened a time capsule that was buried in the old downtown courthouse in 1961.
“It’s wonderful,” History Center executive director Bill Lawrence said. “To have this part of our community’s history on display here for so many people to see it’s just absolutely amazing.”
Lawrence helped pull out a variety of artifacts including San Diego Union newspapers, stamps featuring the Mercury space capsule, film reels, and letters from three US Presidents: Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Dwight D Eisenhower.
The time capsule was part of the courthouse in downtown San Diego that recently closed for the newer, bigger courthouse one block away.
The biggest surprise found inside the time capsule probably had the least historic value. Someone named Rufus Parks threw his business card and county work picture in the box.
“It is Rufus Parks, the chief construction and repair division for the county of San Diego with his county picture in here,” Lawrence said.
Haley Shumacker saw the story here on NBCSanDiego.com.
“I saw his name and I just started screaming at the computer, ‘Oh my God! I know that guy!’” explained Shumacker, his great-granddaughter.
She contacted NBC 7 Reporter Joe Little, who worked with Superior Court officials to arrange a mini-reunion between Rufus Parks’ family and his business card.
“Pretty surprising to us but I guess he had a good sense of humor,” said Shumacker, who was joined by her mother Caron Frasca and Uncle Brad Wright. Both are Rufus Parks’ grandchildren.
None of them were aware their patriarch slipped his business card and picture into the historic time capsule.
“I just wonder if he was chuckling when he did it,” said Frasca.
Turns out, Mr. Parks was a Division Chief with the County’s Public Works Department. Frasca said he was integral to planning several parks and building the road used to build the Palomar Observatory.
Oddly enough, Shumacker started her career as a lawyer in the San Diego City Attorney’s office and spent more than two years roaming the halls of the old courthouse where her great grandfather’s card had been buried since 1961.
The family says Rufus Parked passed away in 1983.
Courthouse officials told NBC7 a new time capsule was buried inside the new courthouse. They said an iPhone was among the artifacts placed inside for future court employees to find when the next courthouse is built.