Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shining chrome

Ken and I just got back from a meeting with Peggy, the Assistant Director of the Studebaker National Museum. Ken's PAC dinner is November 15, and we're having it at the Museum. We had it booked already, but needed to meet with her to get everything squared away, and discuss final plans. Despite my fascination with all things Studebaker, I had yet to get to the new Museum. What did I think, you ask?

WOW! It's absolutely beautiful! They did such a great job on it, and as Peggy put it, it really is one of the "jewels of South Bend." More about our brief tour in a moment.

I am so pleased with the facility, and how nice I believe this event will be. The tables will be set up in the Atrium, and they'll have a podium for us; she told us where they'd put the buffet tables; they'll provide a registration table and she showed us where they'd put that. They have events there all the time, and I felt very confident that they'll do a nice job. I think it will be a perfect size for our event, and we'll be surrounded by memorabilia even while we're eating.

After we'd talked about everything, Peggy invited us to take a walk around. On the main floor are their earliest collection pieces, from the mid-1800's (Conestoga wagons, etc.) through about the 1930's. That is also where their Presidential collection resides, including Studebaker carriages made for Harrison (from Indiana) and Lincoln. Upstairs is their special exhibit room, and the current display is British Steel--some beautiful MG's, Jaguars, Austin Healeys, etc. There are also Studebakers from the 30's through the 60's, which is when they closed. On the lower level is their military collection and their storage area, which is a nice treat, because in the old Museum, the cars in storage were upstairs and it wasn't safe for the general public to go up there to see them. (The old Museum was in the building that housed the original Studebaker car dealership, and it was in pretty bad shape.)

I didn't take my camera with me, drat it all, because this was going to be such a quick run-through. But I found a picture online of one of my favorite pieces in their collection: the Packard Predictor. Towards the end of Studebaker, they teamed up with Packard, so there are a few Packards in the collection. The Predictor is proudly on display, not in storage, and it has to be one of the freakiest cars ever. The thing is a monster! Very innovative in some ways, though. The roof had retractable sides--early T-tops! It had retractable headlights. It had an "Ultramatic" transmission. I'm not sure what that did, but I love terms like "ultramatic." The windshield curves up and around, so that part of the roof is the windshield. The fins are huge! It's one of the most bizarre vehicles I've ever seen, but for whatever reason, I've loved the thing ever since I first saw it a good 10 years ago. It's so ugly, it's cool! On the night of our dinner, I'll have my camera and get lots of great pictures. I don't know if any of you are into cars as much as I am, but I'm fascinated by classic cars.

On our way out, we stopped in the gift shop, and Ken got a very nice polo shirt, and I got a hefty book on Indiana history, both very reasonably priced. Soon, I'll be able to regale you all with fascinating tales of the Hoosier state! Don't worry, you can thank me later. Totally kidding...I know that it holds limited interest for those not of the Hoosier persuasion. However, if I do come across an interesting story, I'll tell you about it. I'll definitely write more about Studebaker eventually. It's of interest to car enthusiasts worldwide, to people in this area, and to my family, because I had several family members who worked there over the years. My Aunt June was one of the very last employees--she did payroll. I have a Lark hood ornament that belonged to my Uncle Buck (who passed away a year or so ago) hanging on the wall in the basement, as well as several framed Studebaker ads from magazines. So it has a special place in my heart. (Cousin Shane's, too. We're both fascinated by the history of the place, and his Dad worked there.) The Studebaker motto was "Always give more than you promise." I think that's a pretty cool motto, and one that is rarely practiced in businesses these days.

Anyhoo, the history will be for another day. For today, it's enough that I'm really impressed with the Museum, and I'm really excited about our dinner. I think it's going to turn out to be a very nice venue and something that people will enjoy. It suddenly strikes me that some of the wives of the guys might not be as thrilled with it...I don't get it, but I supposed it's possible. However, many of the displays are connected with history (military production during war, for example), so maybe that will interest them. How could you not love a beautifully restored vintage automobile, all shining chrome and gleaming paint? That's a thing of beauty, in my book!


  1. I would love it. Then again I'm not exactly your girly frill type woman. I think it will be a success, there is enough there to keep anyone interested. Sounds like it turned out to be a pretty cool day for you and Ken. (Hugs)Indigo

  2. It sounds like a wonderful place.

  3. It is an excellent facility, and I appreciate you helping make sure our event will be a success. Tanks Honey :o)

  4. Oh my....that Studebaker brings back a lot of memories! I would love to see that Museum. The photos are so impressive.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Hugs, Rose

  5. The Packard Predictor is my dream car, but the chances of getting one for our Packard museum is just slightly less than NIL! :-) The last time I was at the Studebaker museum they had a nice '58 Packard Hawk there. It was the last year for Packard, and was built on a Stude Hawk body. We have one that has won numerous awards for restoration and rarity. Do you remember if you saw one there? That will be a very cool place to have your function!

  6. I'm a girly girl but I love history of any kind, even cars. There are few museums that I wouldn't be interested to visit.... even kitschy ones. We visited a jail museum in St. Augustine and I loved that! I also love hearing about history of different geographical locations... so go ahead and bore us!


  7. When you said Peggy and then looking at the cars it brought to mind "Peggy Sue got Married" the film with Katherine Turner and Nicholas Cage, plus I've only ever seen on Studemaker, a neighbour bought one refurbished it and sold it on, beautiful vehicle.

    Thanks for sharing


  8. That sounds like a great place to have it, and I love classic cars myself. Even if the world ran out of gas, I would have some of the best lawn decorations. I would sit in them, and pretend to be going somewhere. HA HA

    I think older cars are like art, and If I ever spend thousands on a car, it would be something cool. I love Studebakers, and think that place would be cool to visit. Have a great evening, and a better tomorrow.


  9. I'm not a car girl, meaning a car gets me from point A to point B. Period. Glen, on the other hand, is a car aficionado. His car(s) of choice are the hot rods, Corvettes, Camaro SS, and the like. When we first met he had a blue Corvette (don't recall the year), the he fully restored, but I didn't like riding in it because it drew too much attention! He traded it in 2 years after we were married!

  10. HOW FUN!!! I love old car museums, that would be a great place to visit!!


  11. I love old cars! How cool! My parents had a Studebaker before I was born and Momma always talked about how much she loved that car!

  12. Would love it! Classics are wonders, Dannelle

  13. I'd find that pretty interesting too. I bet that car had a HUGE backseat....;)

  14. Nice story ... but this isn't going to be about anything remotely associated with it, though I thought it was nice you picked up the polo for Ken ...

    'My Own Worst Enemy' is a very good show. Fell asleep on it last night, but last week I was captured by it. Now, I used to think that i was the only person who may have watched Dave Letterman's MORNING show on NBC, but I do remember it ... do you?

    Finally, one question. Do you remember Prentiss McCurdy? Can't remember his running partner at Ball State, but yesterday I saw a girl with a Cooley High name tag, and all that came in a rush. I remember they went to Ball State together because they didn't have any big name schools recruit them. They played UNLV in the toruney, and though they lost, they didn't get blew out, and would not back down from the Rebels.

    That was a couple of Detroit cats who let 'the Detroit' in them come out!

  15. Sounds like an awesome place - I didn't know you were so into cars! Cool.

  16. That would be an awesome place to visit. I remember my grandparents had a pink Studebaker with white trim.
    I love going to classic car shows, but haven't been for a few years now.
    Hope your event is a huge success.
    :) Leigh

  17. I know Ken's dinner will be a hit....Rick once owned an Austin Healey...he still talks about that car with love....i like reading any stories you write about Hoosiers. That is one way we all get to learn more about each other by reading about our shared stories. XO


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?