By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1991, Winlock’s formerly football-shaped “World’s Largest Egg” was due for a makeover.
After being crafted into a much more egg-like form, Winlock Lions Club members put together a time capsule within a 2-foot long black PVC pipe sealed at each end to memorialize their efforts.
It was intended to remain sealed until 2041.
That opening date was moved up 24 years or so when the capsule was unceremoniously cut in half Saturday by the Washington State Patrol’s explosives unit after being mistaken for a pipe bomb. For at least one Winlock resident, the case of mistaken identity has turned into a chance to pursue his favorite pastime — digging through Winlock’s history.
Winlock history buff Roy Richards, owner of the Renegade Rooster Winlock History collection, has a lifelong passion for collecting pieces of any and all aspects of the Winlock area’s history, from high school sports memorabilia and police uniforms to logging gear and photos of Egg Days celebrations long past.
He took custody of the time capsule, which he soon found contained the written history of the egg and of Winlock in general as documented in newspaper articles and other papers, some dating to when the capsule was sealed and some of a more historical nature.
Some were cut in half by the bomb unit, but Richards is working to piece them back together and put them all in protective plastic sheets.
“I just ordered a showcase to put it in,” he said. “I haven’t gone through (all) the paperwork yet.”
Sgt. Randy Pennington, of the Toledo Police Department, was one of the first to respond Saturday after volunteers preparing for the town’s annual Christmas tree lighting found the pipe wrapped in wires and poking out of the base of the egg. Alarmed by what he saw, he contacted the Washington State Patrol explosive unit.
Because the bomb scare took place at the same time as a scheduled community event, the bomb unit also notified the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which also responded, along with Burlington Northern Railroad police.
The railroad, which runs directly behind the egg, was closed.
As bomb techs in protective suits used special equipment to open the capsule remotely, responders ducked behind their cars, Pennington told The Chronicle Monday.
While the end of Saturday’s bomb scare was anticlimactic, Richards is still excited to sort through the history the unfortunately-designed time capsule contained.
Richards’ passion for Winlock’s history is both personal and wide-ranging.
“My family came here in 1909,” he said. “My mom went to school here in 1921 at the new school.”
Richards, 70, is nostalgic for Winlock’s good old days. He collects evidence of everything from that time, including business signs, police memorabilia, kitchen equipment and more.
Many of the the museum’s contents come from his own family’s history, including his late-wife Linda’s egg cup collection, exhibits from his grandfather’s job in a saw mill and his dad’s 1944 bill at Ryderwood Mercantile when Ryderwood was still a company town for the Long-Bell Lumber Company.
The exhibits of Winlock’s heyday are split between two buildings on Richards’ property. One is a replica of an old fashioned gas station and general store, including a working antique radio, a cooler filled with soda in glass bottles and a circa-1972 pinball machine.
Richards adds to his collection through estate sales and auctions.
His passion for the area’s history isn’t selective to the small towns’ good times. He also has documentation of efforts to tar and feather Wobblies, or members of the Industrial Workers of the World, in Winlock in the 1920s. The effort was halted due to a shortage of feathers, he said.
He also has a Ku Klux Klan hood and articles about when the Klan was active in Vader. He said the collection isn’t about glorifying that history, but about documenting the facts.
“Some people don’t like it, but it’s the history of Vader,” he said.
Richards opened the museum at the urging of his wife Linda in 1994 to show elementary school children their town’s history and “to kind of bring back the memories of how things were 60 years ago.”
He’s still going strong today.
“Anytime I’m here, it’s open,” he said.
Richards said he recalls when the egg was restored and the time capsule was put together, “to be opened in 50 years, as a I remember,” he said.
At the time, he thought there was also a VHS tape with videos from Egg Days that year, but no tape was found.
“My daughter was Egg Day queen,” he said.
Richards plans to add the capsule’s contents to his existing exhibit on the egg and Egg Days.
The Renegade Rooster is open by appointment. For more information, go to www.RenegadeRooster.com.