Different Times, Different Folks

Submitted into Contest #62 in response to: Write about a character putting something into a time capsule.... view prompt


Historical Fiction Inspirational Drama

(Write about a character putting something into a time capsule.)

Not many of us are important enough to have a real time capsule or to be part of the generation of one. And, oh the headache, of someone who must decide what single thing could define a time, a decade or a generation. That would never be a job for me. But in our own lives, a thread of where and how, or who we were, to maintain some form of continuity. 

It was a great great great grandmother who started this saving of things and thoughts, complete with simple explanations by the depositor, or maybe I have the number of greats wrong, but for generations this plain wooden box with slightly rusted hinges and a wide leather strap, has sifted down through our family. 

We were not famous, just typical, hard life determined folks keeping alive as best we could, if you were lucky enough to be happy too, then God must have blessed you for sure. It gets harder each decade as times move quickly and with the times, the mindset now is that we must have the newest and best, throw out the old, and yet this box is full of old, it contains bits and pieces of people, people connected by blood.

I am not learned, or a student of history so the things are not in any sequence or timed order, they are just here to touch, read a few words, sit with your mind ready to imagine what that time and that life may have been like, ones own people doing things we can only imagine now. I try to let my imagination run the full gamut, sights, sounds and feelings. Misty eyes and small smiles, my mind getting to know my dead relatives.


I lift from the box each piece and lay it on the table before me:

A single dried kernel of corn slipped into a small flannel pouch... Attached the words “from the meager harvest of our first year here in Ohio.”...Angus

A button from a Civil War Uniform and the words “They brought him home to me, broken in mind and spirit, his external wounds healing but his blood or some from another Mother’s son dried on his sleeve, I took my big sheers and I cut off the button and with it some blood stained fabric, he was never the same.”...Margaret

A photo of a wagon, two oxen and five folks. Looks like a grandma, dad, mom, two kids...the words, “we continue West, they say land is free, it is for the land that we venture to the unknown!”...Wilhelm

Wire rimmed glasses from long ago, a long removed cousin or uncle ...it is hard sometimes for me to sort it all out. But the words help. “I was a school teacher in a one room school. Six benches, each held two students, from young to as old as I could manage to keep them. Some with huge potential, withdrawn by family need, never to reach potential.”...Herbert

A pocket knife, not much to see here. A jagged crack across one of the scales but the pins still held. The words tell it all. “Not a roaring success but always a good son and father. What man can ask for more than for the world to know both of those jobs were done well.”...Robert

A Postcard from a tropical place...the words written….”hello family...you never believed I could live my dream but here I am….alive, happy and caring for such pure hearted folks.”...James

An American Flag lapel pin. “My Granddad wore this pin in his lapel for 4 of July speeches and other important times, my Father also, mine now, I have never worn it.”...Billy

Here is something interesting, mostly written in German or possibly Hungarian, a team photograph of a sports team …..”I was fast, very fast, and determined, I was strong!”....Heinrich

A Rosary. “My sister Geraldine went off to the convent. I have always wondered if she was hiding from our cruel world, or did she have a real calling?”...Peggy

An envelope filled with a much folded, falling apart map and news clippings. His words, “I survived the Great War, I hope there is never another.” ... Matthew

A small ornate medal, engraved “8th Grade Spelling Champion”, the words, “ hours of study, I thought I might go blind studying the dictionary.”...Rebecca 

An arrowhead, nothing specifically telling about it except the words, “Found on the banks of the Missouri River, camped here three days, rains were coming so we moved on!”....George

A small cast iron aero plane, with one blade broken off the propeller. “The thrill, the noise, the wind from the turning propeller, then into the sky, I will do this one day too, I am positive of that!”...Jake

A small crocheted heart, tender looking and sweet, heartbreaking words, “Finally my girl after four sons, died at birth, maybe saved her from a life of grief!”...Henrietta.

A ration book. I flip through it with mild curiosity. Who can imagine a time that was not of plenty? The words…”we manage satisfactorily although my father goes to the country, when he has fuel for the car, and buys dairy direct from farmers, sometimes a pig to be shared among the relatives.”....Henry

A blue swimming ribbon, First Place Breast Stroke. Again the words give insight. “I wish I could think and do sums as well as I can swim.”...Rosie

Dog tags, a life stamped in metal. Such telling words, “an identity, gathered at the worst of times, the death of a hero serving his country, these are my brother Jim’s tags!”...MaryEllen.

There are more things in this box but the moments that I sit here with my mind exploring sights and sounds and feelings, these moments wear me out emotionally.  

I feel I would like to add something to the box but my life feels mundane in comparison to the strife and hardship displayed in front of me. It tells me I come from strong determined stock and my drifting complacent life is not worthy.

I finally decide that much of my life has passed in relative harmony. A truly lovely childhood and a common yet successful adult life. Nothing specific has imprinted itself on me, my sons never went to war, we didn’t want for much, our life pleasant and predictable.  

Finally I want to put this all away...to remove it from my sight, I decide on the only thing I can imagine that some great grandchild may recognize, that history and urban legend will not forget.

I neatly fold my white cotton mask and with a small safety pin I attach the words….”2020, the year of the pandemic, masks and isolation, many deaths but many more recovered, let us hope we learn we are playing with a deadly fire in our laboratories and for what? What is it all about? these viruses?”....Jean

October 03, 2020 17:10

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K. Antonio
15:27 Oct 10, 2020

I loved the moral of the story and that you connected it the present state of things. Very nice idea and I liked the use of the prompt. My only comment is maybe that the idea of this being a "list" made the story a bit repetitive in structure, not that it's a problem, because we get the gist of it right from the beginning. I enjoyed the piece and once again I loved the clever wink it gives to the present. Great job! Feel free to read my story as well, would love some opinions!


P. Jean
15:32 Oct 10, 2020

Thank you for your insights. So many thoughts when writing. Which way to go to present the idea. Often fingers and mind are not in sync. Possibilities! Well thank you. Yes I will read yours this weekend!


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09:50 Oct 15, 2020

A button from the civil war and words by Margaret got me because I am a lover of all things sad and haunting. It gave me chills and got me thinking about all the people who bore their souls out with small words. And oddly, I feel nostalgic. Like I lived with them and saw how they lived before they put down part of their lives in. The end had a really good point. But the words didn't flow well. Maybe the commas were too many. Or perhaps the words had to be broken into a second sentence and line, I don't know. It was great reading this.


P. Jean
10:11 Oct 15, 2020

Thank you!


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