A time to remember

Oak Bluffs couple who unearthed a time capsule plan to bury their own with memories and mementos of 2020.


If you’re going to bury a time capsule in the year 2020, you better include a face mask.

That’s just what Sabrina and Paul Buehler, who own a home on Wing Road in Oak Bluffs, plan to do.

The Times wrote a story back in January about the couple unearthing a crumbling concrete time capsule from underneath their porch while they were rebuilding it due to some rotten boards. 

Inside the time capsule was a Vineyard Gazette newspaper from 1976 with all the day’s happenings, along with a visitor’s supplement with suggestions for beachgoers, shoppers, and hungry tourists.

Although Sabrina said she wished the time capsule they dug up had more pictures and memories from the family that buried it, she said it was a fun and fascinating experience to find the old chunk of concrete and see its contents. 

“Not to criticize the people who buried it. I’m so glad they gave us the opportunity to find it and see a snapshot of what life was like on the Island in 1976,” Sabrina said. 

But immediately after opening the time capsule, Sabrina said she knew her family would want to bury their own, with memories, pictures, and objects that remind them of not only the year 2020, but of all the great times they’ve had on Martha’s Vineyard.

“And this was all when we really never knew what 2020 would bring. Who would have thought all this would happen in just one year?” Sabrina said.

Sabrina and Paul thought a lot about what should be included in their time capsule. They put in a wedding picture of their son and his wife, who were married on East Chop, along with pictures of other family members standing on white sandy beaches with smiling faces.

Sabrina said Paul and she have been heavily involved in a project called Chikumbuso — a Zambian benevolent grassroots organization that provides hope and opportunity to some of the most vulnerable women and children in Zambia.

The couple have helped host benefit concerts for Chikumbuso on-Island, and two students from the project are currently living with them.

To show their love and passion for Chikumbuso, Sabrina said she is including pamphlets for some of the benefit shows, as well as an informational booklet that describes the project’s mission.

Sabrina is also a gleaner for Island Grown Initiative (IGI), and loves to be involved with sustainability initiatives on-Island. Because of this, she is including IGI pamphlets and information about gleaning. Sabrina has run the Amity Island 20-Miler for about 13 years now, alongside some family members, so she wanted to include her medal for finishing the race in the capsule as well.

They also included a picture of their house, before they put an addition on it and a new porch, along with a list of the family’s favorite places to shop, eat, and take an afternoon stroll.

Every year, the couple buys a Peter Simon calendar, and with Simon passing away in 2018, Sabrina said they had to include his 2020 calendar.

And as a vestige of a time long past, Paul is including his old flip phone in the capsule, after having just recently upgraded to a smartphone.

The newspaper containing the article The Times wrote about the couple unearthing the old capsule will also be buried, alongside this article.

With 2020 being such a monumental year for civil rights initiatives, and with so many tragedies happening as a result of racial injustice, the couple are also including a copy of the Voices on Racism project produced as a collaborative effort by The Times in November.

“We have family members that are not just African American, but are from Africa, so obviously that project is near and dear to our hearts,” Sabrina said.

And of course, a time capsule commemorating 2020 wouldn’t be complete without a face mask. “That’s really a sign of the times, isn’t it?” Sabrina laughed.

The couple hopes that in 30 years, they will be around to open the time capsule while standing beside their grandchildren.

“I will be 91, and my husband will be 95. Hopefully we will be around. But if not, we think it will give pleasure to whoever unearths it — I know it did for us,” Sabrina said.

The last item to be buried, Sabrina said, is a note to whoever opens the time capsule, asking them to continue the tradition and find their own mementos to bury. 

After a year filled with great joys and great sorrows, Sabrina said, she hopes people will look back at 2020 as a time to appreciate the little things, and reflect on what’s really important in life.

“It’s not about material, it’s not about the technology that has really taken over our world. We want people to look back and see that 2020 was a year where we couldn’t see our family — that’s big. Not being able to give our loved ones hugs — that’s huge,” Sabrina said. “We are planning to bury the time capsule after Christmas, and to whoever digs it up next, it’s your turn.”