Miss Belvedere has a winner

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The winning guess from 50 years ago has been identified. Someone named R. E. Humbertson, place of birth Cumberland, Maryland, date of birth July 8, 1921, guessed that Tulsa's population in 2007 would be 384,743. He was off by 2,286; the official Census Bureau estimate, as of June 1, 2007, was 382,457. The next nearest guess belonged to Mrs. Houston I. Shirley, Jr., who guessed 385,555.

The tally was dependent on a paper log of submitted entries and a few postcards. A roll of what may have been microfilm was presented to the Tulsa Historical Society. After being soaked in distilled water for three days, it was found to contain -- nothing.

It surprises me that only 812 guesses were submitted. Of that number, 25 were illegible.The median guess was 691,829. 148 people guessed a population of a million or higher. Only 68 people guessed a number less than the actual result.

The 1957 Polk Directory, using information supplied by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, reported an estimated population of 254,100, and a land area of 41.03 sq. mi. The city is now more than four times as big in land area (182.7 sq. mi.), and if we had maintained the same population density, the population would be 1,131,466.

I suspect that, if you were to measure the population today within the city's 1957 boundaries, you'd be at about 120,000, less than half.

At the announcement, at East Tulsa Dodge, it was mentioned that we don't have the 1957 address for any of the entries -- just name, date of birth, and place of birth. (In some cases, we only had Mrs. plus the husband's name.) Event chairman Sharon King Davis asked whether anyone had a 1957 phone book, so we could find out where Mr. or Mrs. Humbertson lived. I said try the library. Central Library not only has phone books for most years going back to the 'teens, but they have at least one city directory for each year. Someone else noted that there was a directory in the time capsule. It would be interesting to look up Humbertson in 1956 and subsequent years and see when the name disappears.

It does appear that our Mr. Humbertson has found his way to his own eternal time capsule, and did so many years ago. The Social Security Death Index has the following entry:

Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN Issued
RAYMOND HUMBERTSON 08 Jul 1921 May 1979 22204 (Arlington, Arlington, VA) 22204 (Arlington, Arlington, VA) 215-16-4982 Maryland

If that's not a match, it's an impressive coincidence. The next step would be to see if there are any probate records in Arlington County that would indicate the existence of heirs.

The organizers have very thoughtfully posted the list of entries from the Buried Car website. Here's a direct link (Microsoft Excel format). I found a couple of names I recognized; maybe you will, too.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 22, 2007 10:31 PM.

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