PVA Time Capsule

PVA time capsule opened during the 75th PVA Annual Convention in Las Vegas


Two Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) leaders opened a time capsule filled with 25 years years worth of nostalgic history to close Monday’s opening day of the organization’s 75th annual convention inside the Grand Ballroom of the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

As PVA National President David Zurfluh and Executive Director Carl Blake started pulling out items, including a 50th PVA Annual Convention book from Chicago, Zurfluh thought one thing was for certain — they sure used a lot of paper back then, including that thick book.

PVA National President David Zurfluh (left) and Executive Director Carl Blake unseal the PVA time capsule during the 75th PVA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. (Photo by Christopher Di Virgilio).


“It’s so funny, we’ve gone digital, and 25 years for the most part, we’re kind of in that age where we’re getting away from paper. And to see all that paper in there, I think it’s a testament that we thought differently back 25 years ago than we do today,” Zurfluh said.

After Zurfluh and Blake opened the capsule, featuring a half blue background and PVA logo, attendees checked out what each of the then-33 chapters, along with then-PVA Senior Vice President Kenneth C. Huber, put inside in 1996 for PVA’s 50th Annual Convention in Chicago.

Technically, Zurfluh and Blake reopened the time capsule. Back in late April, Zurfluh and Blake wanted to make sure they could open it at PVA’s national office in Washington, D.C., and check that the contents inside weren’t damaged. But it was sealed so tightly, they needed three maintenance people to pry the time capsule’s top open with screwdrivers and tools.

“We didn’t go through the contents. We just wanted to make sure it would open,” Zurfluh said. “We saw there was stuff in there, so we sealed it back up.”

After a day filled with executive committee reports, the opening ceremonies, some resolutions and PVA’s Communications team’s 75th anniversary video, it was an ending highlight.

One item that caught Blake’s eye was a three-ring bound PVA membership list because of all the names on it. That list, along with the minutes from the 50th annual convention, were added by resolution at the 50th convention.

“I’m pretty sure that’s a list of every PVA member at that time,” Blake said. “It’s basically a roll call of our entire membership printed out on paper. So, it’s a huge volume of stuff.”

Besides that book and membership list, there were plenty of chapter newsletters, press clippings, proclamations, reports, booklets and brochures, along with a copy of the 1970 Life magazine article that described the horrendous conditions at the Bronx (N.Y.) Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital for those with spinal-cord injuries.

Blake agreed there was lots of history — especially in paper form.

“One of the surprises was how much paper was in it. But a lot of the papers are like chapter newsletters. Of course, you got couple of big volumes of paper,” he said. “I’m happy that by and large it’s all preserved, ‘cause you know if you let those papers sit for very long, they dry up and they’ll disintegrate if you’re not careful. Everything appears to be perfectly preserved.”

The PVA time capsule opened during the 75th PVA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. (Photo by Christopher Di Virgilio).


Additionally, there were some patches and pins and a few other interesting items, including a plaque honoring Dr. Ernest Bors; a cow cap; a Korean War Memorial print; and a name tag from Jack Michaels.
That name tag made Zurfluh laugh. Michaels, who died in 2012, co-founded the PVA Northwest Chapter in 1977 and was PVA national president from 1987-89, a 1997 Speedy Award (member) recipient and one of Zurfluh’s major mentors.

“I don’t know if that’s a joke or not, so it’s pretty funny,” Zurfluh said. “Jack had a really dry sense of humor, so I think it was to be humorous.”

West Virginia Chapter President Darrell Carrell checked out the items afterward. He thought the West Virginia PVA chapter newsletter was interesting. Seeing the old Speedy logo also made him reminisce.

“Seeing the Speedy logo. I never wanted that changed to begin with — since it has been changed three times,” Carrell said. “I like the Speedy logo, and now it’s gone.”


Each Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) chapter that was in existence during the 1996 National Convention in Chicago, contributed items to the time capsule opened Monday at PVA’s 75th National Convention at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The PVA time capsule opened during the 75th PVA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. (Photo by Christopher Di Virgilio).

Items included:

Arizona Chapter — PVA T-shirt; pins; a Desert Oracle newsletter and profile of Dick Sloviaczek

Bay Area & Western Chapter — the copy of the original chapter charter

Bayou Gulf States Chapter — an annual report, newsletter and a shirt autographed by members who attended the convention

Buckeye Chapter — a report on sports activities

Cal-Diego Chapter — a newsletter, invitation, program and article on the 50th anniversary celebration

California Chapter — the chapter’s articles of incorporation; a newsletter; an annual report; a plaque honoring Dr. Ernest Bors; and windshield decals

Central Florida Chapter — a hat; pin and shirt autographed by chapter officials from the 10th annual U.S. Open Bass Tournament

Delaware-Maryland Chapter — a press clipping on the unsung heroes of the chapter’s prosthetic program

Eastern Chapter — a May 22, 1970 Life magazine with the cover article on the Bronx Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital; a copy of a settlement of a 1984 class action lawsuit against the New York Transit Authority

Florida Chapter — a First Joint Business Enterprise grant; a photo of the opening; and a piece of ribbon

Florida Gulf Coast Chapter — a plaque, acknowledging the chapter’s founding members and then Board of Directors

Gateway Chapter — a “Twenty Years of Service” booklet created specifically for the time capsule

Great Plains Chapter — brochures on chapter programs and a proclamation from the Nebraska governor

Iowa Chapter — a patch and photo with U.S. Vice President Al Gore addressing chapter members in May 1995

Kentucky-Indiana Chapter — its 25th anniversary and most recent newsletters

Keystone Chapter — a cookbook; a 1995 annual report/1996 calendar; chapter newsletters; a press clipping about its Easter basket program

Lone Star Chapter — photos from its first Texas Roundup Bass Tournament; a tote bag from the 49th PVA National Convention

Mid-America Chapter — a chapter pin; a national trapshooting pin; a Lake Eufaula patch; and a videotape

Mid-South Chapter — a proclamation from the governors of Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama

Minnesota Chapter — the chapter’s original and most recent newsletters

Mountain States Chapter — a proclamation from the Colorado governor; a historical roster of chapter officers

New England Chapter — a newsletter; a brochure; a patch; and a lapel pin

North Central Chapter — a national trapshoot cap; a large check donation to The Spinal Cord Research Foundation

Northwest Chapter — a list of chapter officers and directors; a 16th National Veterans Wheelchair Games program; a Northwest PVA patch; Jack Michaels’ name tag

Oregon Chapter — a PVA 50th anniversary ring

Puerto Rico Chapter — a proclamation and letter from the Puerto Rico governor; a letter from the VA Caribbean Healthcare System director

Southeastern Chapter — photos of the chapter’s new building; a proclamation from governors

Texas Chapter — a mug and a pin

Vaughan Chapter — a miniature wooden PVA plaque

Virginia/Mid-Atlantic Chapter — a 50th anniversary issue of its newsletter, “Recollections”, by a chapter member

West Virginia Chapter — a newsletter

Wisconsin Chapter — a cow cap and Wisconsin PVA pins

Zia Chapter — a newsletter and a flag

Kenneth C. Huber (national senior vice president) — a Korean War Veterans Memorial print

By Resolution — the minutes fo PVA’s 50th annual convention and a membership roster

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