My Mother's Studebaker Car...Tillie was her Name
Memories of times past
When my younger brothers and I were youngsters living in the beautiful countryside of Wisconsin, my mother had an old Studebaker car and her name was "Tillie." We were fortunate in that my mother was a stay at home mom.
My dad drove his car into the City of Milwaukee each day to go to work which was about 30 miles east from where we lived. Thirty miles seemed quite the distance back then.
Of course roads have been greatly improved since those days and today we think nothing of traveling a similar distance all within this city where we now reside just to go to a symphony performance or even to go out to a special restaurant or to go to a friend's house for an evening of camaraderie.
Zsa Zsa Gabor Shows off her Studebaker Lark
At the time we thought nothing of the fact that my mother referred to her car as Tillie. My dad's car did not have a special name and why my mother's car was so named, I have no idea. We all just took it as a matter of course that Tillie was a part of our family's landscape of possessions at the time.
What made this car so special?
Tom Bosley 1956 Studebaker Commercial
Post World War II
In those days of growing up in the 1950s and following "the war to end all wars".........sadly that was not the case!........not every family was fortunate enough to have a second car as well as a stay at home mom.
My parents worked hard and were thrifty in their spending habits and also believed in saving "for a rainy day."
They had built the house that I first remember living in, my memory not capturing the earlier days of living in a cottage on the lake next door to my paternal grandmother.
Ah.......but I do remember the Studebaker car named Tillie!
Picture of me in my grandfather's gardening boots
Why was Tillie so memorable?
First of all, the cloth lining on the roof interior of the car had started disintegrating. When there was more of it hanging down than remaining attached to the roof, my parents decided to just remove all the remaining fragments.
I have no idea if a new headliner was not in their budget or if they just decided that Tillie deserved a new more distinctive look. Whatever the case may have been, the interior roof was painted instead.
My mother seemed pleased and after all, it was her second hand car to do with as she wished.
My mother in the days she would have been driving the Studebaker car.
In addition to no headliner, the primary reason that Tillie was unlike most other cars was the condition of her heater.
Few cars back in those days offered air conditioning. Windows were simply rolled down and whatever breezes passed through the car offered a bit of respite from the summer heat.
However.......in Wisconsin the cold weather lasts for many months of the year.
All cars of which I was familiar did provide heaters.
Tillie's heater was obviously just plain old and worn out.
That is not to say that Tillie's heater did not work. It worked...but sadly, just about at the end of any trip a faint bit of heat would start coming out of her.
Since we lived in the country and attended a private school, my mother would drive us there and pick us up each day. In the dead of winter, we would all be bundled up and shiver all the way to school. My mother tried her best to convince us that it was merely invigorating! Ha!
My mother and me in 1958.
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Kids of a certain age like to blend in with their peers.
Even though some other friend's parents did not even own a second car, the fact that Tillie was so different embarrassed my brothers and me back then. We would ask my mother not to drop us off right by the school doors, but to stay back a bit in the small parking lot so that other kids would not see us exiting from Tillie.
How silly and my mother and I have often laughed about the old Studebaker named Tillie and those times of bygone days. Remembering her on this day, Mother's Day, with love and memories of all the many years that we shared together...even those days with her car, Tillie.
Where we lived at the time...
The new craze now-a-days is the thought of using more hybrid cars which can travel further without spending so much money on fueling them with gasoline.
The history of Studebaker is interesting. Did you know that Studebaker actually made electric cars a couple of years before they introduced those powered by gasoline? The gasoline powered ones came along in the year 1904. They were heavily marketed and sold beginning in 1912 and until they closed their last manufacturing operation in 1966, they were well received by the public and were known for their quality.
For many years when we lived in the Bear Creek subdivision in Houston, Texas, our next door neighbor could be seen working on his vintage Studebaker cars and or trucks. He spent many of his free hours in his garage or driveway lovingly restoring these vehicles. It was a thrill for him to take an old possibly rusted out non working vehicle and get it shined up and operational.
There are Studebaker meets (conventions) where like minded individuals take their vintage cars and meet up in various states. In 2013, it was in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the hosts were the Pikes Peak chapter. Our neighbors attended that convention as they do many others in various places around the country.
While my early memories of the Studebaker car named Tillie might not have been the greatest, I have come to appreciate their beauty and uniqueness over the years especially because of being exposed to them with our next door neighbor's love of the brand.
Do you have special memories or stories related to the Studebaker? If so, please mention them in the comment section below. Thanks!
1956 Studebaker "Big New Studebaker" TV Ad
© 2010 Peggy Woods
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