Mortaring Tahoe memories | SierraSun.com

Mortaring Tahoe memories

David Bunker
Sierra Sun
Ryan Salm/Sierra SunBill Funicella, a longtime mason who has worked in Tahoe for the last 10 years, inserts a time capsule in a stone wall he is building on Grove Street in Tahoe City on Friday.
ALL |

Bill Funicella is about to mortar Sierra Sun and Sacramento Bee newspapers, a collection of coins and several photos of Tahoe into a rock wall he is building off of Grove Street in Tahoe City on Friday afternoon.

It appears to be an odd ritual, but what Funicella is doing has been done by thousands of stone masons across the world throughout history.

Called “time capsules,” the collection of items that make up a snapshot in history are cemented into walls, fireplaces and structures to be found later by an unsuspecting workman.

Treasures, trinkets, letters and newspapers are common items found in time capsules.

The rock wall, alongside the Mayfield House Bed and Breakfast, stood for 80 years before Funicella deconstructed it. So Funicella is guessing it will be at least 2086 before someone comes upon the Nov. 10 edition of the Sierra Sun, an assortment of business cards and even a menu from a local restaurant.

“The original wall was there for about 80 years, so I am thinking at least 80 [more] years,” said Funicella. “And my wall is better.”

Funicella, a longtime mason who has worked in Tahoe for the last 10 years, has found his share of capsules.

One he found in Boston dated from 1823 and held gold coins, a letter and an old newspaper clipping.

“It was found in the walls of a fireplace,” said Funicella.

Time capsules are hardly the whim of a forward-thinking mason here or there. They’ve grown into an obsession for some. There is an International Time Capsule Society.

The mother of all time capsules, called the “Crypt of Civilization,” holds everything from dentures and beer to some of the greatest books ever written.

It was sealed in 1940, to be opened 6,000 years later in 8113.