Well, now it's official. Tulsa's 1957 time capsule was built to withstand a nuclear bomb, but it proved powerless to resist the corrosive effects of seeping groundwater -- as well as the rigors of time itself.
When civic leaders unveiled their freshly-unearthed 1957 Plymouth Belvedere last night in a gala ceremony involving plenty of colorful lights, draped curtains, and Enya-like music, they were no doubt horrified to discover that the car had been reduced to a giant, tailfinned paperweight.
Clearly this is a metaphor. But for what? And what lesson are the citizens of 2007 Tulsa supposed to derive from this time capsule left behind by their Jet Age ancestors of 1957?
According to the Tulsa World:
Now we know what 50 years in a hole does to a Plymouth Belvedere.
The tires go flat. The paint fades. Hinges and latches stiffen, upholstery disintegrates, the engine becomes a very large paperweight.
But what the heck. None of us is what we used to be.
The Belvedere buried at the Tulsa County Courthouse a half-century ago and recovered from its vault on Friday turned out to be more artifact than memento. Displayed to the public Friday night at the Convention Center, its ruined paint suggested just about every color except the original gold and white. Corrosion bubbled the surface of the radiator.
The engine that hot-rod guru Boyd Coddington had hoped to start Friday night was just plain hopeless. [...]
Most of the artifacts said to have been left in the car were unrecoverable. About the only thing to survive intact were two glass jugs of gasoline, a cigarette lighter and some thickly encrusted cans of Schlitz beer.
The beer, left in the trunk of the car by nightclub owner Clarence Love, managed to migrate to every nook and cranny of the interior, carried along by the water that inundated the vault sometime during the last 50 years, rotting fabrics and rusting metals.
(Photos above by the Associated Press)
Videos of the Tulsa Plymouth unveiling (TuslaWorld)
UPDATE: Flickr user Michael Bates has uploaded some remarkable photos of the waterlogged Plymouth. As a monument to 1957 technology, the time capsule must be deemed a failure. But as conceptual art, it's varsity-level stuff. Check out all of his Tulsa's Buried Car photoset.
(Photo by Michael Bates)