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53memories of our old family cars, including Studebakers... ahhhhhhhh... 1-7-10

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  • Bob Friend
    Jan 10, 2010
    FROM  A  RECENT  E-MAIL  REPLY  TO  AN  OLD  BUDDY:

    At first I was thinking we once had a Studebaker Champion in the family -- but further probing of my brain cells convinces me Dad drove a  Commander when we lived in that little white John Fribley-owned house on Country Charm Road.  Dad probably bought it (used) prior to our move there.  The blue Commander (c. '55) replaced the blue 1954 Ford Customline, which dad bought new in, I think, the fall of '53 from the Ford Dealership in Auburn.  It was a straight-6; here, at left, is a photo of a '54 (Dad's was not a two-tone, of course, and I recall it being a two-door):

     Studebaker Beginnings Studebaker Lark VIII.jpg
     

    A brief aside here: When dad had about a quarter-million miles on that Ford, Uncle Stanley asked him, "J.M., how long are you gonna drive that car?"  Dad answered, "Well, I s'pose till the wheels fall off if it!"  Sometime not long thereafter, as fate would have it, Dad was driving in Auburn; he was turning east on Morning Star Road, the northern boundary of Greenhurst Country Club, heading for Co. Rd. 35 when the (right?) front wheel fell off the Ford.  (Thanks, Brother Jim for refreshing my memory of the exact location.)  TRUE  STORY !!!  That is when he junked that car and bought the used Commander -- I just can't recall the year.  The second pic above is of a '55 Commander; I found some nicer images on the Internet, but they were of the fancier, heavily chromed models.  (NOTE: At this writing, Jim's recollection is that it was indeed a Champion, not a Commander -- they looked similar; he also thinks it was a '56 instead of a '55.)
     
    Replacing that blue Studebaker was an all-black Studebaker Lark -- not as ornate as the one pictured above (hub caps instead of wheel covers, less chrome, maybe a two-door).  Larks were made from 1959-'66.  We lived on C.C. Road from the late fall of '59 until sometime during the summer of 1962, prior to my sophomore year at Waterloo H.S.  I do recall the Commander bit the dust prior to that '62 move, so my best guess is that Dad would have bought a '59 Lark used --  a couple of years old -- in 1961.  I'm not sure when he got rid of it or what replaced it, because he drove the Lark into my college years, and I never spent a summer at home once I left Waterloo for Muncie IN and points beyond.  (Jim would know about post-Lark Friend family automobiles since he was around the area after graduation, save 18 months obeying Uncle Sam in Viet Nam.)
     
    That Lark was a great car.  I felt horrible after I borrowed it to see a James Bond movie in Fort Wayne, probably during the summer of '65, when I panicked on a rain-slicked road near the Coliseum: I realized on entering the curve to the right that I was going too fast; I hit the brakes and slid into the guard rail, crunching the left front fender.  I think I flatted the tire and had to change it -- in the rain.  I went to the movie anyway; I was so shaken that I forgot to turn the headlights off, so they ran for a couple of hours.  Miraculously after the movie the car started, and I made my way back to Waterloo.  I recall whispering to Dad that I'd damaged the car.  He said something to the effect that I'd no longer be able to drive it -- however, he did not enforce this edict when I later returned home on college quarter breaks.  On the other hand, Jim has told me that I "queered the deal" re  HIS  being able to drive, with Dad telling him (to paraphrase), "Sorry son, but no more teenage drivers after what Bobby did to the Studebaker."  Whereas I'd gotten my license at age 16, I don't think Jim got his until he turned 18. 
     
    For what it's worth, I do regret causing Jim this inconvenience -- but not quite as much as I regret locking him in the outhouse when we lived in "The Crackerbox" on Rt. 327; he was 4 and I was 6; my intent had been to let him out after a few minutes, but I got busy playing with my toys and completely forgot about him!  ( I was out of earshot and could not hear the screams he still reports having belted out.)  It was only when Mom finally asked me, "Where's Jimmy?" that I realized my guilt.  The poor kid was imprisoned in that smelly little shack for over two hours!  So again, for the record: I really am sorry, Jim!  (We have been down this path before -- I don't think I will ever be fully forgiven for this particular episode of "evil" behavior on my part!)
     
                --Bob
     
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