OUR PILGRIMAGE TO SOUTH BEND
Submitted By: Bob Barrick
The Hamilton Chapter SDC
|We were on the road by 5:30
a.m. Friday Oct 28th,
heading for South Bend to see and experience the grand opening of the
new Studebaker Museum. Janice and I both were looking forward to a
weekend away before the busy holiday season.
We arrived in South Bend around noon their time and had a quick lunch
stop at Perkins before heading to the new museum location. ...Just had
to have a peek! WOW!!!....Had
it changed since we last saw it back in May!
Upon arriving we checked the outside of the
building and we noticed one of the garage doors open right next to the
glass front where the red bullet nose convertible is on display.
There was a local TV station setting up for Friday night's gala.
We got a chance to look in on the ground floor display and talk to the
local TV workers about all the festivities. I took a few pictures and my
flash gave me away ...one of the museum workers came over and closed the
door on us, they sure didn't want anyone getting too much of a sneak
peek that's for sure.
After this we headed for the museum store, which was open to the general public. I thought it would be bigger than the old museum store but it's much smaller. I purchased a new T-shirt and the girl in charge gave me some information about the events, which were going on for the weekend. I learned that the upper floor had no cars on it due to the dinner that night (which was totally sold out), and that there would be a rush on moving cars over Saturday morning to get ready for the rest of the weekend's events. After hearing that I knew just where I'd be the next morning.
Now that we at least had a taste of what was to come we hopped back in the car and headed north to Niles, Michigan to the home of our very dear friends Dennis and Pat Patterson who had invited us to stay with them for the weekend.
Bright and early Saturday morning Dennis and I were heading back to South Bend in his gorgeous '58 Commander Studebaker. The girls had shopping day planned so Dennis and I had all day to do what we wanted!
Arriving at the museum we found the museum staff and helpers busy bringing cars over from the old location. What an opportunity to see museum vehicles driving down the street, cars we'll probably never again see outside the museum. Also we got a chance to see just how the elevator system works for moving cars from ground level to either upper or lower floors. One of the helpers was Ontario's own Stu Chapman, talking to him you could tell he was very proud of what the museum board and the city of South Bend had accomplished ...a 30 year endeavour.
In the above picture you can see the gate lowering to deliver the '52 to the upper floor with the Avanti waiting it's turn. Also SDC President Ed Reynolds is talking with Dennis Patterson.
The cars which wouldn't run or they didn't want to put excess miles on, were hauled by our friend Tom Molnar on his '58 Studebaker truck called "Captain Hook". This truck is one of his latest restorations, and, as always he did a fine job. Tom was very busy Saturday morning, having to haul over some 30 cars. As I said before, we at least got to see a few of them.
Above is Tom's '58 with the last South Bend car on board. Now this is one that they didn't want driven due to its low mileage.
Probably the best part of the whole weekend was when Tom Molnar came and asked me to give him a hand. He took me inside the museum and I had a private tour! No people to get in the way of photos ..it was great! Enough said now for a few inside pictures (with no people).
Above 2 pictures are of the lower level
These are the floor display
.... These are the floor display
Above and below is the main floor!
After Tom's tour it was time say some goodbyes, find Dennis and head for Niles, as we had dinner plans that evening with some other friends as well. We had no plans on attending the Saturday night event but heard later that it was basically just a tour with some finger food. However, we had made our reservations to get into the official opening and ribbon cutting ceremonies on Sunday.
Also, on Saturday, the Avanti Owners had their meeting in the museum. Chapin St in front of the museum was closed off so the Avanti Club could show off their cars.
Sunday we arrived early, about
noon, to get a decent parking spot. It was a good thing because it
wasn't long before the crowds started coming. We actually were some of
the first in line to get into the main floor area and we had excellent
seats to view the proceedings.
The program started on time at 1:00 p.m. and it lasted about 45 minutes with words from the state representative, local politicians, museum board members, and the president of SDC, Ed Reynolds. Also, there was the blessing of the building. The Michiana Men's Choir performed, some of their members being original Studebaker Choir members. One of the songs they sang was "Studebaker 150 Years"
After all the speeches were finished, it was time for what everyone was waiting for, the cutting of the ribbon which marked the official opening of the new Studebaker Museum.
Once the ribbon was cut people got to wander about the museum from top to bottom at their leisure.
One of the many highlights of the museum is the car drop along the open stairway to the second floor. It also has the large "Lark" neon sign on the wall of the staircase .. very impressive. This is one of the first things visitors will see when they enter the museum along with the large Studebaker sign in the floor, the bullet nose convertible in the window and the Lazy "S" in the ceiling.
entrance to the museum, you can see the bullet nose at the far end of the room
... and the opposite end!!
As we were leaving the museum we found there were many SDC members who drove their Studebakers to the opening. It was sure nice to see so many Studebakers out and about this time of year. The weather couldn't have been better for this and I wished we had driven our Lark to the opening.
The weekend went fast, and, suddenly it was time to head
home. We had a great time and experience, I would recommend all SDC
members to plan a trip to South Bend and see the city's newest jewel!