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50 Years In The Hole

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1957 Pontiac unearthed in Oklahoma By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS, Associated Press Writer

TULSA, Okla. - Hundreds watched Friday as a crane lifted a muddy package from a hole in the courthouse lawn: a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere buried to celebrate Oklahoma's 50 years of statehood.

The wrapped car — a gold and white two-door hardtop — appeared brown and red as it came out of the hole, but it was unclear whether the color represented dirt or rust. A bit of shiny chrome was visible on the bumper.

The car spent the last half-century covered in three layers of protective material and encased in a 12-by-20-foot concrete vault, supposedly tough enough to withstand a nuclear attack.

But event officials already had to pump out several feet of water from its crypt.

The car was placed on a flatbed truck so it could be unwrapped, spruced up and officially unveiled Friday evening at the Tulsa Convention Center. Spectators packed the streets to glimpse its journey.

Whether the car will start was unknown. Those who gathered to watch it being pulled out of the ground did not seem to care.

"I just need to see it," said Marc Montague of Auckland, New Zealand, among the couple hundred spectators amassed at the downtown site Thursday afternoon. "I've been waiting 15 years for this."

Also buried with it were 10 gallons of gasoline — in case internal combustion engines became obsolete by 2007 — a case of beer, and the contents of a typical woman's handbag placed in the glove compartment: 14 bobby pins, a bottle of tranquilizers, a lipstick, a pack of gum, tissues, a pack of cigarettes, matches and $2.43.

There was also a spool of microfilm that recorded the entries of a contest to determine who would win the car: the person who guessed the closest of what Tulsa's population would be in 2007 — 382,457 — would win.

That person, or his or her heirs, will get the car and a $100 savings account, worth about $1,200 today with interest.

Thursday afternoon, legendary hot rod builder Boyd Coddington inspected the vault and what he was able to see of the car with his crew.

The task will fall to Coddington, host of the TV series American Hot Rod on The Learning Channel, to try to start the thing up at a ceremony Thursday evening. Tens of thousands of tickets were sold for the event.

"We're optimistic," Coddington said. "I'm really concerned about the rust on the bottom of the car."

Back on the day the Belvedere was buried, all Bixby resident Marlene Parker wanted to do was find a photographer for her wedding. Catching a glimpse of the car being lowered into the ground was the last thing on her priority list.

Unfortunately, not for the photographer: He was shooting the burial.

This weekend, the 70-year-old will celebrate 50 years of marriage and may come downtown to see what all the fuss was about back then.

"Probably across the pond people know about it," Parker said. "If nobody knew where Tulsa, Oklahoma was before, they do now."

___

On the Net:

http://www.buriedcar.com

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musical interlude

"Down in a Hole" ~ Alice in Chains

Bury me softly in this womb

I give this part of me for you

Sand rains down and here I sit

Holding rare flowers

In a tomb

Down in a hole and I don't know

if I can be saved

See my heart I decorate it

like a grave

You don't understand who they

thought I was supposed to be

Look at me now a man

who won't let himself be

Down in a hole, feelin' so small

Down in a hole, losin' my soul

I'd like to fly,

But my wings have been so denied

Down in a hole and they've put all

the stones in their place

I've eaten the sun so my tongue

has been burned of the taste

I have been guilty

of kicking myself in the teeth

I will speak no more

of my feelings beneath

Down in a hole, feelin' so small

Down in a hole, losin' my soul

I'd like to fly but my

wings have been so denied

Bury me softly in this womb

(Oh I want to be inside of you)

I give this part of me for you

(Oh I want to be inside of you)

Sand rains down and here I sit

Holding rare flowers

In a tomb (along with "Oh I want to be inside of you")

(Oh I want to be inside)

Down in a hole, feelin' so small

Down in a hole, losin' my soul

Down in a hole, feelin' so small

Down in a hole, out of control

I'd like to fly,

But my wings have been so denied...

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