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1954 time capsule opened in Paso Robles at vacant Youth Correctional Facility

 A time capsule sealed in 1954 opened at the Former Paso Robles Youth Correctional Facility
Angel Russell
A time capsule sealed in 1954 was opened at the Former Paso Robles Youth Correctional Facility.

A time capsule from 1954 was opened Thursday at the vacant Paso Robles Juvenile Facility on Airport Road, ahead of demolition and construction plans.

After some drilling and hammering, a black box revealed coins, documents, newspapers and old photographs was opened at the long-closed Paso Robles Youth Correctional Facility.

“It was really cool," said Dr. Heather Bowlds, Director of the Department of California Juvenile Justice, who got to pull out the artifacts. "There was anticipation about it, wondering what it could possibly be.”

Inside the box was a newspaper from January 29, 1954 with a headline that read “ Phantom Sniper Executed.” Another newspaper read “Soviets Trying to Sabotage U.N.” and “Unemployment In U.S. up Half Million in Month.”

The capsule was mostly filled with people’s pictures, personal letters and memories of what life was like in 1954.

“Sometimes history repeats itself," Bowlds said. "For me, sometimes the past can also take us back to the roots that we need to remember what’s important.”

The capsule was opened because the Youth Correctional Facility, which has been closed since 2008, is now in escrow and will be sold in December.

Majestic Realty Co., a privately-held development company headquartered in Southern California, purchased the land to turn it into a winery, restaurant, hotel, museum and retail space.

While the land is moving forward in a new direction, past employees of the correctional facility and the former superintendent, David Bacigalupo, took the time to share stories about the troubled youth they helped throughout the years.

“As a famous humanitarian, Jackie Robinson, once said, 'Your life has no meaning unless you’ve impacted others,’” Bacigalupo said.

Soon, the dilapidated buildings and the area covered by barbed wire will be coming down, but the artifacts from the time capsule will be placed in a museum for people to reflect on a bygone era.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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