Tales from real life
|Well, if they're not true, they oughta be!|
|Studebakers were just part of growing up for my extended family. My uncle Pat owned a Studebaker dealership, Patton Motors, in the 1950’s, and most of the family bought a car from him at one time or another. It helped that Studebaker offered a lot of low-priced models. Hardly any of our lower middle-class relatives bought from Pat after he switched to selling Chrysler in the 1960’s.
My dad was working for Pat as a mechanic when I was born in 1957. He actually got two babies that year, the other was a Studebaker Silver Hawk. It was a green two-door coupe, with fins on the back. It wasn’t as fast as the Golden Hawk model, but the 289 cubic inch V8 engine had enough power to provide a sporty ride. I loved that car as a child, and I still think it's a very good-looking automobile. I never did risk asking dad which of us was his favorite.
In 1959, dad moved us to the Seattle area, where he found work as a carpenter. He framed houses, built concrete forms for the Highway 520 floating bridge, and worked on the City of Tomorrow exhibit for the 1962 World's Fair. One of the cleverer things he built was a padded insert that fit into the rear floor space of our Hawk. It converted the back seat into a small bed where my older sister and I could sleep while dad made the overnight drive to visit our grandparents in Montana. We also used it when the family went to a drive-in movie.
By 1964, we’d moved back to Montana and our family had grown to include four kids. Dad bought a brown four-door Studebaker Lark from uncle Pat. It wasn’t nearly as pretty, nor as cool, as the Silver Hawk, but it sufficed for several years. When Studebaker finally folded, dad got a blue two-door Lark from Pat for next to nothing. It was worth every penny. I drove the blue Lark once in a while when I was in high school, but the cloud of oil-smoke that followed me around made it a less than pleasant experience.