PARADISE — Fifty two years ago, Arlene Seevers placed a taped-up coffee can with some photos, the latest Chico State commencement program and the day’s Chico Enterprise-Record into the chimney being built at her family’s new home in Paradise.
Last week, a debris removal crew found the can intact in the same chimney. It was the only thing left standing at the property after the Camp Fire.
“I was very surprised that it had to be found that way,” said Seevers, who sold the home in 2016 and now lives in Folsom, where she and her husband sell guitars. “Our plan was for none of us to be alive when that can was found. It was supposed to be for many, many years, and to have the house burn like that was beyond what we could ever imagine.”
It’s not the first time debris removal crews have found keepsakes in the remains of tens of thousands of homes burned down by the Camp Fire. Among the items returned to homeowners have been a collection of coins dating back as far as 1921 and rings passed down from generation to generation, according to John O. Matos, from the public relations department at Operating Engineers Local 3. But it is rare.
Raymond Klein, a dentist who bought the house from Seevers as a second home for his retirement, said he was surprised when the crew clearing his lot found the time capsule.
The June 2, 1967 copy of the Chico Enterprise-Record has a few brown spots where it got singed by the heat. The front page carried news about an anti-Vietnam protest, the death of U.S. paratroopers in Vietnam, and a local fatal car crash. The photos included one of Seevers’ parents, Marvin and Verna Seevers, and one of Seevers’ 1963 high school graduation.
Seevers moved into the Paradise home on Lofty Lane on her 21st birthday. In a note she wrote at the time, she said that she wanted the can and its contents to be a reminder of 1967 and the family home that was being built.
“We had large bedrooms, a beautiful deck that went from one end to the house to another, where you could see the whole beautiful view of the canyon,” said Seevers. “It was the prettiest place my parents had ever thought they could retire to. And that was our home for 50 years.”
She said she remembered Paradise fondly as a place where neighbors knew each other and cared for each other.
Klein said he was considering displaying it on his fireplace if he rebuilds or donating it to the Gold Nugget Museum.