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Monday, May 4, 2020

Preserving The Moment

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Logan Mansion Offers Times Capsules for COVID Memories

In a popular 1970s ballad, Jim Croce sang about memories of time kept in a bottle. The owners of downtown Shreveport’s iconic Logan Mansion want to encourage people to do the same thing – to save their COVID-19 history for a future generation.

In 1999, right on the cusp of Y2K, Logan Mansion co-owner Lisa Brutto was employed by the giant computer technology company Oracle. It was a hectic and crazy time for Oracle and all computer businesses. They had spent months dealing with a computer rollover glitch that many believed would wipe systems clean and toss us back into a prehistoric time when the earth was ruled by paper, pencils and slide rules. When the year 2000 came and went with nary a problem other than the inordinate amounts of money spent to prevent one, Lisa hosted a party. She gave her high-profile Oracle clients time capsules with which to save documents, photos and feelings, to chronicle the event and save the memories for opening later. The time capsules were a hit.

Fast track 20 years. When COVID-19 started closing businesses and laying waste to plans, when it forced people to leave their lives on hold and stay at home, she knew that this was a point in time that should be chronicled as well. Lisa and her son Joseph have purchased a limited number of metal time capsules for locals to share some of their memories and experiences with a future generation.

What should you put in a capsule? Historians suggest items that describe your daily life, such as personal notes, pictures and documents, small trinkets, medals, coins, whatever you think it will take to help someone 50 or 100 years from now know what things were like in 2020. Be aware that the technology of the future will be different, so things like flash drives or SD cards will be obsolete and unusable. Printed items are preferred.

Both the Shreve Memorial Library and Spring Street Historical Museum downtown plan to fill a capsule and will also hold several capsules to open in 25 and 50 years. Dr. Cheryl White, a professor of history who often uses clues left by people long gone to solve historical puzzles, believes this is a wonderful opportunity for both the community and the Spring Street Museum. “As an LSUS university outreach, it is a privilege to be part of capturing and preserving this time in Shreveport history through the use of time capsules to be shared with future generations. The Spring Street Museum continues to be a significant depository for preserving the rich story of Shreveport.”

Lisa and Joseph plan to fill a capsule, too, with some of Joseph’s poetry, some items of her mother’s, and items that are special to the entire family. “It allows us to be a time traveler in a way,” says Lisa. “It will show who we are and what we went through to people years from now. This is a very special opportunity; it’s like our diary to the future.” Lisa and Joseph are going to encourage people to share short videos of what they intend to include in their time capsule and any stories they would like to tell on the Logan Mansion Facebook page. “I’m going to love to see what people include,” she says.

The capsules will be available for purchase through the Logan Mansion Facebook page for $15, which is what they cost Lisa. She plans to give some away to downtown businesses and residents to encourage them to share how they have survived the global pandemic. We might not be around in 50 or 100 years, but these little bits of our lives can be.

Liz Swaine is the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. She can be reached at liz@downtownshreveport.com.

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