An unusual event recently took place in Tulsa, Okla., according to the Associated Press. I am always interested in unusual events so I took special note of this one.

In 1957, to celebrate Oklahoma’s 50 years of statehood, a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere was buried on the courthouse lawn. Actually, it was wrapped with several layers of plastic and placed in a concrete vault. None of this, they found out 50 years later when they dug it up last week, helped to preserve it one bit.

It was, to put it mildly, one big piece of rust and mud. In the trunk, they had placed a five-gallon can of gas which in 1957 was selling for 24 cents a gallon and some Schlitz beer, also rusted. The best I remember, beer was selling for $2.40 a case, unrusted.

The day the Plymouth was buried, folks were asked to guess at the population of Tulsa in 2007 and their names were put on a spool of microfilm which they haven’t located. The correct guess would win the car.

There was a good crowd on hand when they buried the car, as you might imagine. Folks back in 1957 might stop what they were doing to watch somebody change a tire. I think folks had more fun back then but things did get a little dull at times.

The digging up attracted a number of people too, some of whom probably had no idea what they were digging up but wanted to be there to find out. With cars today, being far more expensive than they were in 1957, there is some question as to the kind they would bury today, should they desire to do so.

Maybe a PT Cruiser? That would cause a lot of confusion 50 years from now. That car confuses me already.

I don’t know what is planned for the car. I’m almost sure that if I lived in Tulsa, somebody would try to sell it to me. I might even buy it. Believe me; I have bought some real doozies in my time. I had a knack for falling under the spell of used car dealers.

I can hear their spiel now on this Belvedere. “Son,” he says, “this car has received the best possible care for the past 50 years, protected from the weather and not driven at all.”

As for the rust, he might say, “A little WD 40 will take care of that.” I’m sure I would be given the used car dealer’s best guarantee, 30 days or 30 minutes, whichever comes first.

I have bought a number of lemons in my lifetime but I don’t recall ever buying a Plymouth. My specialty was worn out Fords and Chevrolets. I have bought several that should have been buried in Tulsa.

Back in the ‘50s, I knew a young preacher with a wife and two kids who barely subsisted by preaching at several small rural churches. His only means of transportation was an old Plymouth with more miles on it than a used space shuttle.

One Sunday, he was returning from preaching somewhere south of Brownwood. Just as he topped a hill, a loud clatter came from under the hood. He was trying to assess the damage when a Mexican family in an old beat-up pickup stopped to help.

The man said, “You have troubles, Senor, perhaps I can help.” He walked over, looked at the large hole in the engine block and said, “My apology, Senor. Many people I can help, but for you, I can do nothing.”

Could this be the Plymouth they dug up in Tulsa? I sure don’t know.

Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at