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My Mother's Studebaker Car Named Tillie

Updated on March 4, 2017
Peggy W profile image

I have many fond memories of growing up as a child in the 1950s in Wisconsin. The 1960s saw many changes including a family move to Texas.

Studebaker Car Photo


Memories of Past Times

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.


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?


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 in which I first remember living. My memories did not capture 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!

Me having fun in my grandfather's gardening boots.  They lived near my parent's home.
Me having fun in my grandfather's gardening boots. They lived near my parent's home. | Source

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 and Sheba (our German Shepherd) in our front yard in Wisconsin.
My mother and Sheba (our German Shepherd) in our front yard in Wisconsin. | Source

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.

My mother and me in our front dated June of 1958.
My mother and me in our front dated June of 1958. | Source

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

A markerOconomowoc, Wisconsin -
Oconomowoc, WI 53066, USA
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Studebaker Car History

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!

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Paul,

      I am not sure where the Studebaker cars were manufactured. I guess we could put in a search and find out. Glad you liked the old photos. Does that make us old? Ha Ha!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Peggy, This hub is awesome and it certainly brings back memories. I also remember a neighbor or relative having a Studebaker in the 1950s. When my dad first started farming in 1954, he worked at Allis Chalmers in West Allis and drove 30 miles back and forth from near Mukwonago. Did Studebaker have any manufacturing plants in Wisconsin? I remember that one of my neighbors worked at an auto plant in Kenosha. I like your old pictures very much. Voted up as awesome and interesting and sharing with HP followers.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi amazmerizing,

      It was fun learning about some of the names you gave your cars. One of mine some years ago we nicknamed the 'mulch mobile' because it had a large trunk and we often transported bags of mulch from the nursery to our yard and garden areas. Ha!

    • amazmerizing profile image

      amazmerizing 2 years ago from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA

      Hi there great hub... and yes we all name our cars in my family... the earkiest one I remember was VOVO which of course was really a Volvo haha kids right? We also had a travelall named the tortuga cuz it was huge and green. My first car was the copper penny.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      Nice that this hub had you strolling down memory lane also with regard to cars that your parents had. Too bad about your daughter's experience with that Prius hybrid car and the cost of batteries. Certainly something to consider! Appreciate the pin. That sounds like a great title for a Pinterest board! :)

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