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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Cards N Time: Cars, part III

  • Occasionally I used to fly over South Bend on my way from Indianapolis to Chicago, and I see the Golden Dome of Notre Dame and what was left of the Studebaker Corp. If you saw the 1950 Studebaker, you knew they were doomed. It was said of it that you couldn’t tell which way it was going. The same goes for the corporatio...
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  • 50 Studebaker
     
    Occasionally I used to fly over South Bend on my way from Indianapolis to Chicago, and I see the Golden Dome of Notre Dame and what was left of the Studebaker Corp. If you saw the 1950 Studebaker, you knew they were doomed. It was said of it that you couldn’t tell which way it was going. The same goes for the corporation. The model shown here was introduced in 1950 and the corporation was losing money by 1954 and subsequently merged out of existence. Take a second look at this car and you will understand.
     
    The father of my other best friend, Russell, bought one of these dogs when we were ninth graders. Approaching our 16th birthdays in 1952, we were desperate to drive. One night we sneaked his Studebaker out of the driveway drove it a couple of hours. He brought me home and left only to return a minute later. It was out of gas! We pushed it down the hill, around the corner and down a block, around the corner, half-way up the hill, then into their drive. Boy, had we pulled one off on his Dad. The next morning he would find it out of gas and think that he had done it. We had pulled it off!
     
    Of course, when his dad discovered it was out of gas the next morning, he well knew what had caused it. Correction: WHO had caused it! We learned that in their family the apple had fallen a LONG way from their tree. Even so, Russ went on to become Commander Fromholz flying off carriers in the South China Sea during ‘Nam.’ He has traded in his Navy wings for permanent ones now.
     
    Drive In Movies
     
    Yep, we did what all boys do: we sneaked into drive-in movies in the trunk of some guy’s car.(It was important that we picked a boy who not only had a car with a big trunk but had the money for a ticket.) As I wrote earlier about my ton-and-a-half, ‘46 Dodge truck, when I drove it on a date to a drive-in, they made me park in the last row where my truck wouldn’t block anyone’s view. It was lonely back there with no one but my date, but they made me do it.
     
    In college, I drove to Kingfisher to pick up my date, and as we were driving on to Enid to a drive-in movie, I was stopped by a young highway patrolman for a questionable infraction. I had to drive back to Kingfisher to the Justice of the Peace to pay my fine. As I was paying the judge, I noticed my date was enjoying an animated conversation with that young patrolman. A bit irritated, I afterward asked what was so engrossing about that guy who had just cost me most of what I had. It was her cousin!
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    46 Plymouth Sedan
     
    Talk about a dog: this was it. I traded my Dodge truck for it to insure that the seller also got a dog. I drove it my last two years working at the mental hospital east of Norman. It was a crazy job with one exception. Most of the student nurses in the state had to spend two months there taking their psych rotation. That gave us guys working there a “new crop” of nurses every 60 days PLUS we didn’t have to break up with them at the end of the 60 days. It was wonderful and the reason the state could get so many to do so much for so little.
     
    One night after sharing dinner at the cafeteria with some student nurses I was trying to impress, I sauntered outside, revved the engine, and shot gravel as I backed up to go. Only problem was, I had forgotten the four-inch steel post behind me! My performance ended suddenly and ingloriously, and it left my humble Plymouth with a stylish V in its trunk. My automotive fashion statement failed, however, for I was never able to date any of those nurses.
     
    59 T-Bird Convertible
     
    Now we’re talking! This model year was among the best. But, Ford Motor Company found a way to make every subsequent change in body style worse until the entire line was dropped. I notice the T-Bird line has recently been resurrected and looks pretty good — because it is a knock-off of that ’59 beauty.
     
    My buddy, Larry McLain, owned this classic when it first came out and was dating his future wife, a coed at OSU, when I was assistant administrator of Stillwater Municipal Hospital — and single. Larry would drive up from OKC and swap his 59 for my 54 Chevy. Surely, you think, the boy had no sense. He did: his T-bird had bucket seats separated by a stick-shift console and mine had old fashioned bench seats. I knew he would go far. He did. He owns a half dozen or so giant McLain’s RV lots in OKC, Tulsa, and Dallas. He also married Miss Dairy Princess of Oklahoma for 1960. There’s a moral there somewhere.
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