A STUDEBAKER LOVE AFFAIR
By Tom Provost
Ever since I can remember I have loved cars. My first memories were of rolling around toy cars. My dad was my first hero. He was a railroad engineer. A very kind and loving man, who was fiercely protective of his family. We weren’t real poor, we had what we needed, but not a lot left over. My dad worked with a man that had a car lot on the side. Johnny Moon was his name. Dad would drive home maybe 5 different cars a week. He never bought these cars, just playing, I suppose. He kept mom a good car, a 55 chevy wagon. He drove what he called $50 drive to work cars, if it cost more than $50 to fix it, he got another one. I thought the sun rose and set on my dad. I worshipped him.
Somebody owed dad some money, for a car deal I guess. So they gave him a car for payment. A grey 1940 Studebaker Commander. Dad knew I was crazy for cars so he gave it to me. The car ran and drove and other than the paint being faded there was nothing wrong with it. The car was a four door and playing inside, it seemed the back seat was as big as a couch. I was 7 years old. The year was 1961.
Dad worked a lot, at night, on holidays, because the wages were above average for the day, and holidays paid time and a half or double time. My absolute favorite memories were of hanging out with dad on saturdays. We lived in the small town of Hamlet N.C. And back then people drove around town to pay bills, run errands, etc. I always sat close up against dad and he let me work the gas pedal or the gearshift, (three on the tree) Dad brought home an odd looking critter one day. He said it was a 1950 Studebaker Champion. He always told me to park on a hill, and carry a brick. The hill for starting and the brick for parking. I was 8 years old then and I thought that was the most beautiful car I had ever seen. I would sit on the ground in front of the car and look at it’s beautiful styling for hours. When I ran errands with dad on saturdays I would work the gearshift, I couldn’t see over the dash, but I remember it. I was so impressed with the car’s looks that I would declare, (someday I’ll own one.) Dad had three different 1950 Studes. A two door the first, a four door, And a four door someone took a torch to and made a pickup out of. My older sister learned to drive in those Studes.
Life progressed, we grew up, Dad and Mom got old, I got married and had a child. Dad died in 1987, Mom greived herself to death in 1990. Single and working a lot, in 1995 I found and bought a 1950 Champion two door from the original owner. It needed a lot of work, and in a few years, even if I didn’t do all the work, I did sign all the checks. I got it in good shape. I have been showing the car at local car shows since 1996 and even though she ain’t perfect, she ain’t bad for her age. I call her a goodwill ambassador, almost everyone that sees her, has a Studebaker story. The old folks are the best, their eyes light up and they smile as they tell their memory.
I think that I am more proud for doing something that I said I would do so long ago. I hope that my dad would be proud of me now. I named the car Adeline, my mom’s middle name. And every time I drive my car, I am 7 years old and snuggled up close to my dad, safe and not a care in the world.