Studebaker Stories:

1,358 miles in 35 hours
By John Clary, Greer, SC

After being a member of the SDC for over 34 years, I finally made the “pilgrimage” to South Bend. “Jock” the poodle and I left home in Greer, SC Friday, May 1, 2009 at 6 a.m. and arrived in SB at about 4:30 p.m. Because of the poodle (and being the cheapskate), I wound up in a “Flea Bag” motel on the north side of town. Just a few blocks from the motel was a Bob Evans restaurant and that was my evening meal.

I got up early the next morning and had breakfast at the Bob Evans. I met several other Studebaker folks and had great conversations there. My first stop was SASCO. I spent an hour or two wandering around gawking like an eight year old in a candy store. In addition to the SASCO stock, there were many vendors set up there. I had an enjoyable conversation with the Schrock Brothers and a few others. Funny how you introduce yourself and swear (in your mind) you will not forget the names of those you meet and then forget the name quicker than it was spoken. One inanimate object just screamed at me out of the corner of my eye. Over in a rather obscure area, there were several large parts like doors and a few radiators. All the radiators had either tags or boxes with part numbers…except for the one screaming for my attention! Since I own one… it was obvious that it was exactly the twin of the radiator I had recently removed from my 1948 Champion coupe. My radiator is working, but the years have taken their toll and the repairs are obvious. I inquired about the price … I decided it was just more than I could justify.

Next it was on to the fairgrounds. I think it was about 10 a.m. when I arrived. I was the guy wandering around with the canvas “Studebaker Parts” shoulder bag with a little black poodle riding inside. I met some wonderful people and saw lots of terrific Studebakers. I bought a couple of stainless hubcaps for the ‘48 and another owner’s manual for my ‘51 land cruiser. Ed Reynolds had a large vendor area and I purchased a current membership roster from him. I looked at lots of parts and bought a few more, but I probably didn’t spend enough to buy anybody a full “drive-in window” meal! Somehow that radiator at SASCO was whispering “come back” over and over in my mind.

I went to the Museum at about 3 p.m. I spent about an hour and a half at the museum. That is not nearly enough time, but I had begun to develop a plan and a schedule that quickened my pace. I really enjoyed the museum. I have read articles and gleaned “bits and pieces” of information over the years, but being there is an experience no article or picture can touch.

Reluctantly, I said goodbye to the museum and headed back to SASCO to buy the NOS 1948 radiator. After a little “negotiating” with Dennis, a price was agreed upon and it was mine. As I was loading the radiator in my truck, a terrific gentleman, Ted Tate, drove up and introduced himself to me. He said he worked as an engineer in the engineering building for many years. Meeting and talking to him was one of the highlights of my trip.

I fueled up my truck and headed south at about 5:30 p.m. Now that I had the radiator, I needed to “justify” spending the money. The way I figure…I had already saved half the standard motel price by spending the night in a (should have been) condemned building…I saved another hundred bucks by not staying another night in a real motel at the regular rate…and with the little discount negotiated with Dennis Lambert…I got a bargain!

I made one more fuel stop at an old familiar truck stop south of Cincinnati at Walton Kentucky and rolled into my own driveway at about 5:15 a.m. Sunday morning. I hope everyone had as much fun as I did. I want to express to the organizers of the zone meet, the museum staff and the folks at SASCO… this “Old-timer’s First time South Bend Visitor’s” appreciation for their friendliness and participation in staging a wonderful event.

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