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November 2, 2007

Claiming the ’57 Belvedere

Car won by brother for guessing Tulsa population

CUMBERLAND — Even though she learned to drive in a 1956 Plymouth Belvedere, Kay Fabbri doesn’t have any desire to own another one. Not even the fact that the car — buried for 50 years in Tulsa, Okla. — is now famous makes a difference to Fabbri.

But that’s all right, because the car’s rightful owner, 93-year-old Bowling Green resident Catherine (Humbertson) Johnson, wants the car. This event has been comparable in excitement, she said, to “when I got married.”

It’s so exciting for Johnson that she even plans to do something she’s never done before when she boards an airplane and flies to Oklahoma to claim her inheritance.

“We’ve decided now we can go,” Catherine said, speaking on behalf of her sister Levada. The pair will be joined by several other family members for the entourage, which they say will happen after Thanksgiving.

Fabbri won’t be among them. But the Frostburg resident wishes that the owner of the 1957 Belvedere was still alive to receive his prize. Raymond Humbertson died in 1979, leaving his heirs to lay claim to the antique vehicle.

Fabbri is a niece of Humbertson’s wife, Margaret, who died in 1988, leaving behind few heirs of her own. The couple had no children.

“The only thing I regret is Raymond wasn’t alive to know it, ’cause he would have gotten a kick out of that,” Fabbri said.

Ever since Tulsa officials discovered in June that Raymond’s was the winning guess of Tulsa’s expected population in 2007 — at 384,743, only about 2,000 off from the actual population of 382,457 — the search for his heirs has been on. Recently, it was decided the car’s rightful owner is Catherine, Raymond’s older sister.

It involved Raymond’s niece, Mary Catherine (Humbertson) Kesner, searching through records in Allegany County as well as those in Arlington, Va., where Raymond and Margaret lived. She contacted several relatives, who gave written consent they were relinquishing any rights to the car, Kesner said.

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