Remember when Grover Beach was Grover City? This long-lost time capsule does

Watch dressed-up dogs parade at Grover Beach music fest

Costumed dogs and their owners paraded Sunday in Grover Beach at the Mardi Paws event, part of the Stone Soup Music Festival.
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Costumed dogs and their owners paraded Sunday in Grover Beach at the Mardi Paws event, part of the Stone Soup Music Festival.

Ah, 1994.

President Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office. “Forest Gump” had people yelling “Run, Forest, RUN!” at every opportunity. TV watchers were obsessed with a bunch of young adults living in an apartment complex called “Melrose Place.”

Ring a bell?

Well in Grover Beach, 1994 was apparently so awesome, the city decided to memorialize it forever.

In April, the city unearthed a forgotten time capsule filled with memorabilia from a quarter of a century ago. The city has since put the capsule’s contents on display during its Sizzlin’ Summer Concert Series at the Ramona Garden Park Center for residents to check out.

“Lots of great information,” Mayor Jeff Lee told The Tribune as he rifled through some of the items at the park center on Friday. “People can kind of peruse it and take a look at what’s here, and remember what was.”

The time capsule includes photos, maps, menus, advertisements and renderings of development projects in Grover Beach at the time. Kaytlyn Leslie kleslie@thetribunenews.com

Grover City bumper stickers, T-shirts and a phone book

Lee said the time capsule, which actually consisted of three buried PVC pipes filled with items, had been mostly forgotten since it was buried, since most people involved in the project had moved on to other jobs, places or retired.

Lee said it was members of the Narvacan Association who alerted the city to the capsule’s existence.

“We as a city had kind of forgotten where it was,” he said.

Luckily, a maintenance worker who began working for the city three weeks before the capsule was buried recalled the pipes’ location.

“So fortunately he was able to go unearth them, and we opened them and found a plethora of really cool information,” Lee said.

Inside were mementos of Grover Beach’s past, including photos, maps, newspapers, wine glasses, brochures and even a startlingly large 1994 Pac Bell phone book.

Some of the capsule’s more notable contents were things that showed the big changes in the city at that time, such as a bumper sticker reading “Add the beach to Grover.” In 1992, voters approved switching the city’s name from Grover City to Grover Beach — a change that some longtime residents refuse to recognize to this day.

Lee said that bumper sticker was his favorite item of all those on display.

Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee holding his favorite item from the 1994 time capsule, a bumper sticker calling for what was then Grover City to become Grover Beach. Kaytlyn Leslie kleslie@thetribunenews.com

“There’s obviously still some people who come to the podium during public comment and say, ‘My name is so and so, from Grover City,’” Lee said. “Obviously, Grover Beach has become iconic for those of us who’ve entered the community since then — but there’s still that connection to the past as Grover City.”

The time capsule also had numerous T-shirts such as ones for an event then called the Ethnic Street Faire — now known as Stone Soup Music Festival — and mementos of the city’s centennial celebration in 1987. (That celebration saluted the founding of the city in 1887, not its actual incorporation in 1959.)

An aqua-and-white city flag, created in 1994 specifically for the time capsule, is now flying above Ramona Garden Park.

Why 1994?

Lee said he wasn’t aware why the city decided to do a time capsule in 1994 — though he is “happy they did.”

Telegram-Tribune articles from that time seem to point to the city’s name change and new development — including a Smith’s Supermarket and the then-impending train station construction — as reasons for the time capsule push.

A special edition of the Five Cities Times Press Recorder, celebrating Grover Beach’s centennial in 1987. Kaytlyn Leslie kleslie@thetribunenews.com

In a Telegram-Tribune article published on March 11, 1994, a few days before the capsule was set to be buried, reporter Carol Roberts wrote that students from Grover Heights, Grover Beach (then still Grover City) and Fairgrove (then North Oceano) elementary schools submitted essays to go into the capsule.

She wrote that two students, Patricia Icrimshire and Jessica Arthur, “tried to picture what life might be like when the capsules are dug up in 25 years.”

“The name Grover Beach will change — maybe,” they wrote. “TVs will change too. They might not even be here anymore.”

2019 time capsule in the works

For anyone who missed out the first time around, another chance to leave your mark on the city’s history is coming up soon.

Lee said the city will do another time capsule by the end of this year, with the goal of having it reopened 25 years from now in 2044.

“We’re looking forward to using this as a jumping off point for remembering 1994, and then having the future remember us for how we are today,” he said

Undated photos showing the construction of Grover Beach City Hall, a parade and comedian Milton Berle’s visit to the city. Kaytlyn Leslie kleslie@thetribunenews.com

Though the details are still murky, Lee said that he would like to see things like before and after photos of the city’s roads from its improvement project, as well as items highlighting Five Cities Fire Authority and the cannabis industry.

Lee said that will be tied to Grover Beach’s upcoming 60th anniversary jubilee, celebrating six decades since it was incorporated on Dec. 21, 1959.

So far, the festivities include a jubilee-themed parade in December, an Instagram-friendly art installation and a special Doc Burnstein’s ice cream flavor and giant ice cream sandwich, Lee said.

The city will hold a meeting on Aug. 8 at the Ramona Park Center to garner input on what sort of activities they would like to see to mark the jubilee, and what items they might wish to go into the new time capsule.

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Kaytlyn Leslie writes about business and development for The San Luis Obispo Tribune. Hailing from Nipomo, she also covers city governments and happenings in the South County region, including Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach and Grover Beach. She joined The Tribune in 2013 after graduating from Cal Poly with her journalism degree.