With a few hammer whacks, Smithtown town officials opened a large milk can Tuesday night to reveal the contents of a time capsule buried on the lawn of Town Hall in 1965.
The time capsule was opened before a crowd of more than 175 people at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, after town officials -- dressed in Colonial garb -- gave a theatrical reading of a patent that founded Smithtown 350 years ago.
The time capsule yielded a proclamation of beard-growing group Brothers of the Brush, papers and paraphernalia from the town's 300th anniversary events, a phone book, an edition of The Smithtown News, pennies from the 1950s and '60s, a man's black hat and a white bonnet.
Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio called the findings "disappointing."
"I would have thought those folks would have used a little more imagination and put some artifacts from that time in the time capsule," he said in an interview after the event.
Kiernan Lannon, executive director of the Smithtown Historical Society, who helped extract the capsule's contents said he was also let down.
Historians were interested in seeing more "slice of life" items such as toys, written accounts and photographs from the mid-20th century, he said.
"The most interesting thing that came out of the time capsule was the smell," Lannon said. "It was horrible. I have smelled history before; history does not smell like that. It was the most powerfully musty smell that I've ever smelled in my life."
Catherine Amicizia, 48, a lifelong resident of St. James, brought her two daughters, Marina, 13, and Gabby, 9, to the opening.
"I wanted to teach my kids and show them what it's like to be a resident for so long," she said. "Hopefully in 50 years they'll still be here."
Officials plan to bury a new time capsule this fall to be opened in 50 years.
A series of events have been scheduled this year to celebrate the anniversary of the town's founding, an event marked as "a significant milestone" on a plaque from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo presented to town officials on Tuesday.
Marina said this year's time capsule should include a selfie stick, affixed to cellphones so you can take a photo of yourself from a short distance. Gabby suggested adding an iPhone.
Smithtown town historian Bradley Harris said other recommendations have included essays from students about what life may be like in 50 years and letters from parents to their children.
Suggestions can be mailed to Smithtown 350 Foundation at P.O. Box 350, Smithtown, NY 11787.