People keep claiming that the legend of "The Solid Concrete Cadillac" stems from an actual incident. I hope someone eventually provides proof, but I'm not holding my breath.
Conclusive evidence would be a published article containing names and a photograph of a car that was filled with concrete because of jealousy. The article would have to be dated before the legend started to circulate.But so far, I've collected only legendary accounts, plus a single report of an incident that's obviously based on the story. I've also noted several films and TV sitcoms in which a car-concreting incident was staged long after the legend emerged.
Here's the basic story of "The Concrete Car" as folklorists began recording it in early 1960:
A cement-truck driver cuts through his own neighborhood and sees a new Cadillac convertible in his driveway. He parks his truck, sneaks up to the kitchen window and spies his wife inside talking to a strange man.
Suspecting that his wife is cheating on him, the driver backs his truck up to the Caddy and dumps the full load of wet concrete into it.
That evening he comes home and finds his wife hysterical, with the now-solid Cadillac being towed away. Through her tears she explains how that morning the dealer had delivered the new car that she was going to give her husband for his birthday.
In other versions the woman won the car in a lottery. Sometimes the wife really is carrying on an affair, and the story simply illustrates how the husband gets revenge.
"The Concrete Car" was widely told in the 1960s, and it reached Europe by 1970. In England, Scandinavia and Germany - as in the United States - the story is always told as something that happened to a local resident.
The actual incident that resembles this legend was reported in the Denver Post in early August 1960, several months after the legend itself appeared.
The Denver car was an old DeSoto, and there was no jealousy motive. The news stories describe a dispute between two cement-company workers, one of whom had evidently heard the legend.
One person wrote to me saying that he was certain that the original incident occurred in Warren, Ohio, during the early 1960s. He provided the name of the wrecking yard where the car was towed and of the local newspaper that published the vehicle's photograph.
But the paper never answered my request for a copy of this story, and other people in northeastern Ohio remember different "facts" about the incident.
One credible source from Warren wrote saying that he was certain he had heard the story during the summer of 1957 attributed to the town of Sharon, Pa., just across the Ohio state line.
This may establish an early date for the story, but it does not prove the incident happened, since this writer never saw the car. Later he heard the same story attributed to several nearby and distant sites, including Denver.
People in Salt Lake City frequently tell me that "The Solid Concrete Car" incident happened in one of the western suburbs of the city during the late 1950s. It was supposedly written up in a local newspaper, but I've looked fruitlessly for such a news story.
One Salt Laker told me that he remembered hearing the same story told with many local details when he was working in Southern California in 1952!
Then there's this item: A couple of years ago, Denver Post columnist Jack Kisling wrote that he had heard "The Solid Concrete Cadillac" told in Denver in the late 1940s by someone who claimed that the cement-truck driver was his brother-in-law.
Finally, a 1970 article in Small World, a magazine for Volkswagen owners, claimed that a prototype of the story, involving a garbage-truck driver emptying his load into a Stutz Bearcat, was told in the 1920s!
It seems that "The Solid Concrete Cadillac" has a long history, but we still don't have any concrete proof when and where the story got started.
(C) 1990 United Feature Syndicate Inc.