67-year-old time capsule opened in Paso Robles

Paso Robles Daily News
Paso Robles Daily News

Box preserved old pictures of boys school, newspapers, and business cards

– Thursday morning, California State Corrections officials opened a 67-year-old time capsule installed during construction of the Paso Robles Boys School on Airport Road. Among those who spoke at the event, former Boys School Director Dave Bacigalupo talked about the history of the youth correction facility. Corrections Juvenile Services Director Heather Bowlds shared her perspective on the school’s role in serving the State of California.

Bowlds said the facility accommodated 340 boys with an average age of 16. There was both a high school and junior high school on the property. Besides academics, there were also career technical classes and hands-on experiences in animal husbandry and some trades classes. The school offered sports including baseball, swimming, and football. Bacigalupo talked proudly of the boys school’s 8-man football team which won the California State Championship in 1983. Bacigalupo served as an assistant coach of that team.

The youth were generally inner-city boys sentenced to time at a California youth correctional facility. The faculty and staff were North County people taking advantage of an opportunity to work for the state. Many worked to support small farms or ranches in the Paso Robles area.

The 100-plus-acre property also accommodated a Cal Fire Station in close proximity to the airport.

After drilling and cutting through concrete, the solid copper time capsule was pried open and the contents shared with the crowd of former staffers, and state officials. Local elected officials on hand included Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin, and councilmen John Hamon and Steve Gregory.
Dave Bacigalupo and Heather Bowlds examining and sharing the box’s contents.

Crammed inside the box were old pictures of the school, including a snapshot of the first arrivals, who were transferred from a facility in Whittier in 1947, before the building was constructed. Three newspapers were stuffed in the capsule, including two from the Paso Robles Press and one Telegram-Tribune. Several dozen business cards were placed in the box. Most represented state officials, including California Governor Knight. Among the local business cards, one represented Stevens Studio, which operated a photo studio in the Paso Robles Inn, and later Camera Corner. The owner’s son, Stanley Stevens, helped organize last Saturday’s 70th Reunion for the PRHS Class of ’51.

Two thick booklets described the operation of the California Correctional System in the early 1950s. Bowlds said issues confronting the system today are probably very similar.

The opening of the time capsule brought closure to the building’s history as a youth correctional facility. It’s a small step on the course for the property’s new role as a large business campus, perhaps accommodating an Amazon distribution center on Airport Road. Studying the memorabilia in the 67-year-old copper box documented Paso Robles’ transition from the 1950s to the new millennium.

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