spoke Lewis Roberts Jr. during dedication ceremonies marking the
observance of Tulsa's Golden Jubilee Week. "TuIsarama!" chairman Roberts' made
his remarks as citizens prepared to entomb a new 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe as
part of a time capsule buried on the southeast corner of the Tulsa County Courthouse lawn.
Why would anyone want to bury a new car? Roberts was asked. "The 'Tulsarama!' committee," he replied, "decided on the event after looking for a method of acquainting the citizens of the twenty first century with a suitable representation of 1957 civilization."
"In our judgment," commented W.A. Anderson, Jubilee chairman, "Plymouth is a true representative of automobiles of this century - with the kind of lasting appeal that should still be in style fifty years from now.... Tulsans think big. And we feel we can over come any technical difficulties we encounter [burying the Plymouth] including the possibility of striking oil in our excavation!'
Supplied through the cooperation of the Plymouth Division of Chrysler and Tulsa Plymouth dealers Wilkerson Motor Company, Cox Motor Company. Vance Motor Company, Forster Riggs and Parrish-Clark, the Belvedere has remained buried since June 15, 1957. As part of the "Tulsarama!" festivities, citizens of Tulsa were asked to guess what the population of Tulsa would be in the year 2007. The guesses were then recorded on microfilm and sealed in a steel container buried with the car. When the car and artifacts are excavated, the person whose guess is closest to Tulsa's 2007 population is to be awarded the Belvedere. If that person is dead, the car is to be awarded to his or her heirs.
And what, exactly, will the lucky winner get when the car is unearthed in 2007? No one is really sure. Sitting on a steel skid, the white and gold car was wrapped in a cosmoline-like substance to help preserve it and then buried within a concrete bunker (The car was lowered into the vault several times prior to June 15 for photo shoots, one such photo ad appearing on page twenty-five of Life magazine's July 7 issue.) Twenty years after the cars burial, questions were raised as officials began to wonder if the vault would maintain its integrity for fifty years. Its location (marked by a bronze plaque on the courthouse lawn places it close to modern traffic. Buck Rudd, deputy chief of building operations for the county court house, mused in 1987, "There's a lot of traffic going by only 15 or 20ft from that thing. We've been curious to know it vibrations from the heavy traffic might have caused it to crack. If moisture starts getting in there, it's going to cause things to deteriorate over fifty years time," Rudd continued. Unknown to the committee - or anyone else then - 1957 Plymouths were terribly prone to rust. Asked what type of maintenance was done on the time capsule, Rudd replied, We just cut the grass on top of it."
While some lucky person may (or may not) win a brand new 1957 Plymouth in the year 2007, the winner has several other prizes to look forward to, among them a $100 trust fund accruing interest until the year 2007. Included with the Plymouth is a 5 gallon can of gasoline, a jar of Oklahoma crude oil, and in the glovebox, fourteen bobby pins, a ladies compact plastic rain cap, several combs, a tube of lipstick, pack of gum, facial tissues $2.73 in bills and coins and a pack of cigarettes with matches - all items that might have been found in a woman's purse circa 1957
The car's glove compartment contains two other interesting items: a parking ticket (unpaid!) and a boftle of tranquilizers. Depending an the Belvedere's condition, the tranquilizers may be the most important part of the package.
Well, I know, where I want to be on June, 15th 2007: alive in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
More about this event and some videos you find on www.tulsarama.de
© Pictures: Tulsa Historical Society