Over 25 years ago, members of the Portsmouth Sister City organization gathered together with people from all over the world through their Sister City partnerships. Together, they put together a time capsule, which was opened, June 9.
Portsmouth Sister City organization was formed to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, one community at a time.
“Portsmouth has a Sister-City called Orizaba Mexico, but Portsmouth’s Sister-City organization is part of a bigger organization, the International Sister-Cities. There’s also another group, called the U.S. Mexico Sister-City organization,” explained President Karen Davis, “The convention celebrated two things, the partnership between the United States and Mexico Sister-City Organization and the individual group, Portsmouth and Orizaba. It was the anniversary of the Portsmouth-Orizaba relationship and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the U.S. and Mexico Sister City organization.”
In 1989 there were not many Sister-City organizations on the East Coast. Through the hard-work and dedication of the Portsmouth Sister-City organization and members Leo Blackburn and Bob Morton, it was decided that Portsmouth would host the convention.
“Most Sister-Cities were West of the Mississippi,” said Peggy Ruggiero. Ruggiero was a part of the Sister-City organization in 1989 when the capsule was assembled. “There were very few places East that had a Sister-City in Mexico. Every other year the International convention between Mexico and United States alternated being held in Mexico or the States. Every other year, it was west of the Rockies. Leo said. Let’s have it in Portsmouth. Some of us thought, ‘that’s never going to happen.’ Surprisingly when we presented this to the membership at one of the conventions, most of the people were excited, they said, ‘I’ve never been East of the Rockies!’ or, ‘I’ve got family there, I’ll visit them too.’”
When the convention was held, it was a historical event. The organization and it’s attendees put together the time capsule, each Sister-City present assembled items and documents from their relationship and exchanges, and placed them in the capsule.
Years later, when the time came for the capsule to be opened, it was found that capsule had been moved.
It was thought to be held at Shawnee State University, but somewhere along the way, it was moved to the auditor’s office in the city building.
Once Portsmouth Sister City found the capsule, they decided to host an event to celebrate and find out what it held.
Davis introduced Bob Morton to open the time capsule.
“He was then president of Sister-City, not only did he travel to Mexico to campaign for Portsmouth, he successfully campaigned here locally to get people and local businesses to participate. Due to his being on the Governor’s Board of Tourism, he was able to have, then governor Celeste to address our National and International guests at the Convention, explained Davis. “I read over letter after letter of invitations to so many people and so many countries. I was amazed by the extraordinary effort he went through to make this event success and to shine a positive light on our community and Portsmouth Sister-City. I could go on and on and tell you about his involvement, but I’ll save that for another time. And if you already didn’t know, he’s my dad.”
Morton was presented with the keys, and the audience was on their edge of their seats with anticipation.
He disengaged the lock from the box, and together, he and Davis went through the contents.
Inside, there were documents from 1989, newspapers and magazines, photos and post-cards and gifts from other countries. The contents of the time capsule will be redistributed to each Sister City present and Sister-City International.
“It’s really interesting,” said Martin Poley. Poley and his family attended the event, Poley spent a year as a foreign exchange student at Greenup High School. Poley lives about 60 miles from Zittau, Portsmouth’s Sister-City in Germany. “It’s almost like we’re here on behalf of Zittau. I had a great time in America and I’m glad to see a small town taking interest in places around the world.”
For more information about Portsmouth Sister-City Organization, you find them on Facebook by searching, “Portsmouth Sister City,” or by calling Karen Davis at 740-352-9724.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext 1932, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara