1960s California Time Capsule Asks If the Future Has Annoying Commercials, Too

A "Rock Placing Ceremony" marked the beginning of the construction at Dana Point Harbor on August 29, 1966.
A "Rock Placing Ceremony" marked the beginning of the construction at Dana Point Harbor on August 29, 1966. / Photo courtesy Orange County Archives

The 1960s were a turbulent time in America’s history, but when American Legion members in Laguna Beach, California took it upon themselves to predict what the future would be like in 50 years, they had more on their minds than the spread of Communism or the Vietnam War. In a letter included within a 1966 time capsule buried at Dana Point, a harbor town in Orange County, they wondered, “Will commercials still be annoying?”

The document—photographed by the for the capsule’s re-opening ceremony and partially transcribed by Gizmodo—asks future readers about the world of 2016. Buried on August 29, 1966, the stainless steel capsule contained not just the missive from the Laguna Beach veterans, but also more than 200 items from 65 different group and individual donors from the area.

Sadly, the American Legion writers would probably be disappointed with the answers. No, we didn’t win the Vietnam War. “Will the ‘great society’ program of President Johnson and equal rights for all have been truly attained?” they asked. Eh, we’re still working on it. “Will [unreadable] have strangled itself with traffic and smog?” If they meant the greater Los Angeles area, yep.

“Will TV continue its irritating commercials on the quality of soaps, deodorant, toothpaste, cigarettes, etc.?” they complained. Well, cigarette ads might be banned from TV, but deodorant ads continue to dominate the airwaves—and our online news sites.

“We see near-nudity on the beaches and our streets,” they describe. “What will we see in the year 2016?” The American Legion members of Laguna Beach might not have been able to foresee France’s recent scourge of Burkini Bans, but they would surely be shocked by modern beach wear, considering how modest the scandalous suits of the 1960s would seem today. (At least the high-waisted bottoms are back in style!)

Since the American Legion is full of older war veterans, it’s unlikely that most of the men who wrote the letter in 1966 (enclosing a list of their accomplishments and their membership roster for posterity) made it to 2016. If they did, well, sorry the future isn't as progressive as they'd hoped.

[h/t Gizmodo]