Chamber of commerce marks 100th anniversary

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Photo courtesy Daily News-Record

As part of its 100th anniversary celebration, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce dug up a time capsule it had buried 50 years ago.

“We wanted to dig it up on the official day that we got our charter signed, which was April 26, 1916,” says Frank Tamberrino, the chamber’s president and CEO.

The chamber invited to the ceremony some people who had been present when the capsule was buried in 1966. The group included Ed Seidel who was executive vice president of the organization from 1965 to 1968. “He helped put the time capsule in the ground 50 years ago,” Tamberrino says. “We hosted a reception in advance of digging up the capsule, and we had about 20 past presidents and chairmen there.”

The time capsule contained items from area companies, such as Merck and Reynolds Metals (which was acquired by Alcoa in 2000), as well as a number of canned turkey and poultry products. (Poultry remains a significant industry in the Shenandoah Valley.)

Tamberrino notes that many of the items were covered by shrink-wrap made by the former Reynolds Metals plant in Grottoes (now Reynolds Flexible Packaging, a part of Pactiv Foodservice).“They wrapped a lot of products so there wouldn’t be any problems if the cans leaked, and one had leaked.”

Other items in the capsule included a tube of Brylcreem, some annual reports, a zoning code, a land use plan and two pairs of pants, one from Metro Garments and the other from H.D. Lee, two garment companies in the area at the time. “Garment companies were important here in the 1950s and 1960s,” Tamberrino says.

During the event, the son of a former H.D. Lee employee read a note his father had put in one of the pairs of pants. The note explained the permanently creased pants were from the company’s facility in Broadway.

All of the artifacts are now on display in Tamberrino’s office. “We are scanning some of the items and they will eventually make their way to either James Madison University’s special collections library or the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, which has The Heritage Museum in Dayton,” he says.

The chamber plans to bury another time capsule in the same spot on Court Square in June or July. “We are taking suggestions from folks as to what should go in there,” Tamberrino says.

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