Comfortably Numb

by Kieran Healy on June 18, 2007

A “time capsule in Tulsa”: contained a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere, which had been intended to be started up and driven off by someone once it was opened this week. But time, chance and especially groundwater happeneth to them all and the thing turned out to be a rusted-out wreck. But the best bit was this: “The contents of a ‘typical’ woman’s handbag, including 14 bobby pins, lipstick and a bottle of tranquilizers, were supposed to be in the glove box …” Sadly, “all that was found looked like a lump of rotted leather.”



John Quiggin 06.18.07 at 3:02 am

Time capsules are a nostalgia item in themselves. I can just remember when they were all the rage.


Orin Kerr 06.18.07 at 3:37 am

Lots of pictures here.


mollymooly 06.18.07 at 7:20 am

has anyone ever opened a time capsule which wasn’t full of rusted rotten garbage?


derek 06.18.07 at 7:27 am

I love that we have a detailed understanding of what was in these time capsules because somebody wrote it down and archived the record.

New rule: you only get to open a time capsule after you’ve forgotten what was in it.


bad Jim 06.18.07 at 7:43 am

I thought the time capsules were in the bottle of tranquilizers.


abb1 06.18.07 at 8:32 am

Now, that’s a beautiful car.


taj 06.18.07 at 9:50 am

I concur that opening a time capsule after just 50 years is just lame. I’d say the rule should be that they shouldn’t be opened while there is still someone alive who was around when it was closed.


Stuart 06.18.07 at 10:35 am

Hmm, going to my Grandmothers house is more of a time capsule than this was, kind of defeats the object doesn’t it?


wissen 06.18.07 at 12:33 pm

Mothers little helpers. Kept the reality of 50s marriage well hidden.


David 06.18.07 at 12:34 pm

“a lump of rotted leather” — so, the tranquilizers in the purse worked!


Bobby Ewing 06.18.07 at 12:36 pm

Here are some high resolution pictures of the car and the items that were stored inside it. Looks like a “fixer upper”



chris y 06.18.07 at 1:14 pm

What’s the point of opening a time capsule when the people who buried it will probably still alive? 50 years – pah!

The cruel truth about these things is here.


c.l. ball 06.18.07 at 3:09 pm

So no one in the 50s knew that underground concrete will suffer from hydrostatic pressure?


eudoxis 06.18.07 at 4:58 pm

Diazepam was mother’s little helper. In the 40’s and 50’s barbiturates were the tranquilizers of choice. Valium hadn’t been invented yet and it’s use and popularity in the 70’s far exceeded that of the barbiturates in the post-war era.


Sk 06.18.07 at 5:27 pm

That can’t be true. The 50’s were the worst decade for everything-including drug abuse. Your data is suspect.



arthur 06.18.07 at 6:30 pm

OK, what else was put into boxes “built to withstand a nuclear attack” in the 1950’s, and how much of it is in our groundwater?


Lester Hunt 06.18.07 at 6:33 pm

The 1957 Chrysler cars were the most gorgeously designed ever (except for the 1858 ones).


Lester Hunt 06.18.07 at 6:48 pm

Oops! I meant 1958 of course.


richard 06.18.07 at 7:30 pm

Lester, you had a perfectly good time capsule joke going there, and you ruined it. Dang.


nick s 06.18.07 at 9:07 pm

“These are the tranquilized Fifties,
and I am forty. Ought I to regret my seedtime?”

— Robert Lowell, ‘Memories of West Street and Lepke’


nick s 06.18.07 at 9:13 pm

And the real time capsule for 1950s American cars is, of course, Cuba. I have mental images of container ships arriving in a post-Castro world and Yanquis offering hundred-dollar bills in exchange for the máquinas, with dreams of selling them on at ten times the sale price.


Lester Hunt 06.19.07 at 5:52 am

“Lester, you had a perfectly good time capsule joke going there, and you ruined it. Dang.”


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