Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Studebaker stuff

Ken is involved with a PAC at work, and over the years, we've gotten to go to some great functions as part of his involvement. One year, when AEP was sponsoring the American Cirque du Soleil tour, we got to see them in Chicago, with third row seats and a chance to hang out in the VIP tent. It was the first time either of us had seen Cirque du Soleil, and I remember sitting there with our mouths hanging open, and looking at each other like, "Did they just DO that?!" It was so cool. Another fun one was dinner at the College Football Hall of Fame, and we got to roam the museum and do things like try to kick field goals.

This year, Ken is in charge of planning the annual holiday dinner, and since I won't be working soon, he says that means that I get to do a lot of it. Plan a party but not have to foot the bill?! The angels are smiling upon me! Nah, there's a budget, but it's a fairly generous one, so it should be a fun thing to plan. Ken's brilliant idea was to have it at the Studebaker National Museum, and all of the other officers of the PAC agree, so Studebaker it is. I'm thrilled, because I have yet to see the new facility, which I hear is excellent. In looking at their web site, it seems that they set the dining tables among some of the cars--how cool is that? I also think we're going to go with catering from LaSalle Grill, which is the really nice restaurant we ate at a while back. There is much planning to be done, but I think it will be fun!


That's a Studebaker Lark. Studebaker is a big deal around here, because it was the largest employer in the area for many years. They started out as wagon makers, and made their fortune with big government contracts during the Civil War. They prospered for years, but a combination of competition and mismanagement sealed their fate. When they shut down back in the '60's, it was a huge blow to the city and the local economy, and people still talk about their memories of when "Studebaker closed its doors." The city continued to prosper without Studebaker, but it was pretty rough on some folks, because there were no provisions for pensions. This resulted in federal legislation protecting employees and their pensions, a dubious honor attributed to Studebaker. Amazingly enough, Studebaker is still remembered with fondness around here, I suppose because of the connection that so many have to the company. I have plenty of my own connections.


This is a Studebaker Champion, or the "Champ" as it was affectionately called. My Dad had a Champ when he got home from the war, and still talks about what a great little car it was. (I don't think he had a convertible, though.) My family has a link with Studebaker, because over the years, my grandfather, several uncles, and an aunt all worked for the company. Aunt June was one of the last Studebaker employees, because she did payroll, so they kept her on till the end. For years when I was a kid, we had Studebaker stationery to doodle on (And wouldn't I give a bundle to have some of that stationery now--it's collectible!), and we bought some of the office furniture.

Cousin Shane and I have managed to accumulate a few collectibles over the years (I have a Studebaker hood ornament hanging on the wall in the basement), and when Ken and I got married, it was at Tippecanoe Place, the mansion of one of the Studebaker brothers, Clement. It was converted to a restaurant, and it's one of the nicest in town. When you go in, you walk through a larger foyer, and you can dine or have events in various rooms. We've had dinner in the main family room, and we were married in George and Ada Studebaker's room. It's a great place with high ceilings, gorgeous woodwork, and plenty of history; it's fun to ride upstairs in the tiny little elevator, and fascinating to look out over the ballroom where you can imagine the receptions and parties that took place there.

So I'm thrilled to be planning a party at the Museum, and I think it will be really neat. Everyone loves classic cars, and I feel confident that we'll have an event that is nothing less than fabulous!



jimsulliv3 said...

The studebaker was a great car and it was very successful in the '60s at Daytona International Speedway. The sportsman class (which became the Busch series) used the body because of its aerodynamics.


queeniemart said...

wow, what a great entry. I loved hearing all about this, how you were married there and all the connections. Have you ever heard of International Harvester? It is my city here and it was once the biggest and best job in town. Now it is not a good job and very unstable but 80% of my city still calls it "IH" and has fond memories. Now they are named Navistar.
I cant wait to hear about your planning and how exciting that night will be.

rdautumnsage said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening in the making. Sounds like your already planning how to keep busy, while your not working (winks). Your just like me, boredom would sit in if I wasn't always neck deep in something. (Hugs) Indigo