HANNIBAL - Merrilyn Jurgens and Patricia Jennings know how lucky they are.
Although nearly all the items in the Hannibal sesquicentennial time capsule buried in 1969 were destroyed by water, the sisters received a letter their mom wrote 50 years ago from both parents, Alice and Bill Jurgens.
It was the only letter in pristine condition from the time capsule, which was opened in May in Central Park. A few more were legible but most were destroyed. The items saved will be displayed at the city hall throughout 2019.
“We think it's a miracle,” said Jurgens. “We were really excited, because we heard a lot of the items were not retrievable, when we heard the condition of the time capsule. … We were wondering and were so thrilled it survived.”
“Mom told us she was going to put a letter in the time capsule,” she said. “When she wrote the letter, Mom was sitting in our camper (on a camping trip). We were 18 and 14.” … It was during a big storm, “but Dad was there, so we knew we didn't have anything to worry about.”
Their mom would not tell them what she wrote. “She said 'You'll have to wait 50 years, and when you open it you can see what Dad and I wrote to you.'”
The letter includes photos of Merriyn as a high school senior and Patricia in 8th grade. It describes them as good girls, and Jurgens agreed, adding, “They were such good parents, we wanted to do what was right.” Her mom was “all about family.”
The letter states Jurgens received a Dodge Dart on her 18th birthday after graduation. She explained that to find the car, she had to follow a string to a neighbor's garage, “and Dad had to back it out.”
Their dad worked for the Wabash Railroad, which became Norfolk Southern, before he died in 1993.
Their mom lived to age 95 before passing away on Sept. 25, 2018. She had been a secretary at local busisnesss including Clayton's, Western and Allied (currently BASF). Jennings also formerly worked as a secretary.
Jurgens and her mom lived together. She is retired after a 30-year school teaching career in New London and Hannibal.
Jennings and her husband, Roger, live in Frankford.
The sisters' childhood home was at 1400 Vermont St. “We lived close to Camery Playground (on Lindell Avenue), and every summer there was an ice cream social,” Jurgens said. “The dads dipped ice cream, and the moms baked cakes. … Summer was wonderful. We liked to ride our bikes around, and it was safe.”
Their dad's parents lived across the street, as did his brother, so they spent a lot of time with their cousins, David and Chuck Jurgens. Their family also enjoyed camping, especially at the Ozarks and Mark Twain Lake.
The sisters plan to write a letter for the new time capsule.
Jennings said she will put memories in the letter for her children, Mindy Jennings of New London and Craig Jennings of Mexico, and her grandchildren, Taron and Jaelee Finnigan of New London.
Jurgens plans to add a post script, as their aunt.
For Merrilyn Alice Jurgens and Patricia Jean Jurgens
1400 Vermont Street
for Merrilyn and Patricia Jurgens
from.... and Daddy and Mama
July 6, 1969
When you open this you will be 68 and 64 years old. Remember the day it was put in - we had just come home from camping at Wakanda overnight in a terrible storm.
Uncle Carl and Chuckie shaved their long beards off today – after growing them for the Hannibal sesquicentennial. The enclosed pictures were taken in May 1969 when Merrilyn graduated from high school and Patricia finished the 8th grade.
This was the big year – Merrilyn graduated and received a black onyx ring with a diamond in it and the day she was 18 we gave her a 1966 Dodge Dart, which we bought from Uncle Jim Alexander.
Patricia was confirmed on May 25 in St. John's Lutheran Church and she received a cameo ring for confirmation.
You both had hair below your shoulders which Mama always wanted cut. But it was okay if you kept it – you all know almost anything you wanted was agreed to by us. Because you were such fine children.
Remembers all the good time we had – at home and away and how much fun Daddy always was with us.
Guide your lives – whatever is left by then and remember us happily.
Love to you both forever.
Mama and Daddy “Bill”