Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Tour- Sept. 30- Oct. 3, 2011


Our departure from the Lincoln Oasis on Friday morning was cool and brisk, and the strong winds that prevailed the night before were still somewhat evident as our tour began. Larry and Karen Kelly were our tour leaders. They gave each of us our tour schedules and the routes that would be taken to Indiana. Along the way Joe and Sandy Kraatz joined our caravan. Our first destination would be South Bend. A couple of cars got separated from the group and took an alternative route but all arrived safely.

When we entered the Studebaker Museum, we were directed to an auditorium to view a short film about the life of the Oliver family and how they industrialized the South Bend area with their invention of the chilled plow. James Oliver was the inventor of the chilled plow and founder of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works.

We then began a tour of the J.D. Oliver House which is also known as Copshaholm. It was named after the Scottish village where J.D. Oliver was born. It is a 38-room mansion that was built in 1895-96 by Joseph Doty Oliver who was the president of the Oliver Chilled Plow Works in South Bend. After its completion, J.D. Oliver and his wife, Anna, and their four children moved into the home, and the family resided there for 72 years. When the last daughter left the home it was given to the City of South Bend.

Our group was divided into two groups to tour this home which was left with original furnishings that included porcelains, glass, silver, prints, and two bronze busts—one of J.D. Oliver and the other of his father, James. There are leaded glass windows, parquet floors, and 14 fireplaces. Oak, cherry, and mahogany woodwork are found throughout the mansion. Copshaholm is built of native Indiana fieldstone which was transported and built on site by skilled masons. It was also one of the first homes in South Bend to have electricity. It was very interesting to see and hear the history behind this exquisite home along with the carriage house. We also had an opportunity to walk through the worker’s home which was a small white frame 1930’s cottage located on the same premises as the mansion.

Most everyone took a leisurely walk to Tippecanoe Place for lunch. This historic 40-room mansion also contains, fine antiques, massive fireplaces and hand-crafted woods and was once owned by the Studebaker family. The chef’s featured selections were a French Dip Sandwich, a Club Wrap, or a Classic Cobb Salad. We were all seated in a lovely closed porch area and enjoyed some casual time together. Len and Mary Keil were joined by two longtime friends for lunch. Pete Kramer also met up with the group for lunch.

After lunch we went back to tour the Studebaker Museum which had three levels of history. The collection of cars at the Studebaker Museum includes the Studebaker Corporation’s “original collection” of 37 vehicles that were given to the city of South Bend in 1966. Exhibitions at the museum included Knute Rockne: The Rest of the Story. Besides Knute Rockne’s football coaching career at the University of Notre Dame he had an equally successful career as a “celebrity salesman” for the Studebaker Corporation. Other exhibits included the four presidential carriages of Grant, Harrison, Lincoln, and McKinley; the career and works of Theodore W. Pietsch II and his automobile design in the golden age of the 1930’s to the 1970’s; and the Italian sports cars exhibit that featured Italy’s finest automobiles of the 1950’s and the 1960’s.

The lower level showcased the women who played hard ball or the real “League of Their Own.” Historical exhibits of the region’s exploration, pioneer settlement, fur trade, and Underground Railroad were also on display. There was much to see and learn about at this museum.
Now the drive was on to Auburn and to get our rooms at the Quality Inn. After everyone was assigned to a room, it was time for the Friday night pizza gathering. This is always a happy time to talk about the day’s events and schedule for the next morning.

Saturday morning began with a tech session on Lloyd’s car. Ken explained how to use a vacuum gauge to set the timing on a ‘56 T-Bird. We then had a short drive to the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Museum to see some really exceptional cars. This museum is so unique in that the showroom that you enter was once the original Auburn Automobile Company showroom and the automobiles in the showroom are magnificent. The upper level also includes numerous galleries of the following: Auburn Automobiles (1903-1924); cars of Indiana; special topics, classics, and the Hall of Technology. So much to see and admire and an unbelievable beauty in each of these classics.

We were scheduled to have lunch at Mad Anthony’s but due to a craft show in the town, our plan was diverted to Auburn’s Town Tavern. As we began our walk to lunch, Tom spotted a wagon hooked to a two-cylinder John Deere tractor that earlier had been in the town parade. Much to our surprise Tom convinced the man to drive approximately 20 of us to have lunch. Ken rode on the tractor with the gentleman and found out the tractor had belonged to his father, and he seemed delighted to have us as passengers. He even took a little longer route for our ride. There is always some surprise awaiting us on these tours!

After lunch we all walked back to the museum campus and this time we would tour the National Auto & Truck Museum which is located in the former factory buildings of the Auburn Automobile Company. The service building was built in 1923, and the experimental building was the first new building E.L. Cord constructed in 1928-29 after he assumed management of the company. The L-29 Cord was the first production front wheel drive automobile in America. Special exhibits at this museum included the following: cars of the ‘50’s; an international gallery of trucks and engines; the gas and oil pump collection; the world’s fastest truck known as the Endeavor; and the vintage 1948 diner. There was also a large display of riding toys for children that were all in mint condition as well as numerous miniature models of cars, trucks, trains, buses, etc. This museum also offers a lot to see and so much to learn from a past gone era.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent for most of the group going to the Black Pine Animal Sanctuary (also known as Professional Animal Retirement Center). This non-profit exotic animal sanctuary is a last chance refuge for captive-raised and non-domestic animals in need. Upon entering the park, the group was greeted by Peaches, a white cockatoo. There were various animals to view including a chimpanzee, a male lion, Bengal tigers, cougars, wolves, a black bear, and monkeys. The animals were very close to view and had all been rescued from various locations. A reptile house was also there. There was a larger fenced area for llamas, goats, and ostriches. All the workers are volunteers except for the executive director who was the tour guide. They are in the process of constructing a new habitat for the chimpanzee. Donations of food are given to the sanctuary from the area. As they were leaving the sanctuary, a local TV reporter interviewed Karen Kelly and Joe Kraatz. Len Vinyard then showed the reporter his engine, and he said he would send Pete Kramer a copy of the report.

A few of us went to Shipshewana to see some of the Amish wares since all the retail shops would be closed on Sunday. We climbed to the third story in one of the buildings to see a large carousel that was working and giving children rides. What a beauty to see!

The evening meal was not planned. There were a number of eating establishments very close to the Quality Inn. A few in our group drove to Shorty’s Steakhouse in Garrett for dinner; some went to Bob Evans for much jocularity and fun, and still a few others chose other locations.

Sunday morning we departed Auburn for Hostetler’s Hudson Museum in Shipshewana. There were 69 cars in the museum at the time we were there, and it is the world’s largest and finest collection of Hudsons dating from 1909 to 1956. Eldon Hostetler along with his wife, Esta, began their enthusiasm for collecting Hudson automobiles over 70 years ago. His pursuit of “everything Hudson” includes 48 unusual Hudon, Essex, Terroplane, Railton, and Dover brand cars and trucks. It is an amazing exhibit of one person’s enthusiasm and love of the auto.

When we left Shipshewana, we drove to Hamilton to have lunch at the Hamilton House Bar & Restaurant. It was a delightful country drive as the sun shown on the brightly colored leaves. We had a choice of sandwiches including a hamburger, grilled chicken, or pork tenderloin. We left rejuvenated for the afternoon to do whatever one chose to do. Most decided to drive back to Auburn but some went antiquing to find whatever treasures might entice us to make a purchase.

We had a short drive to Bridgewater Golf Club for dinner. They opened the Clubhouse especially for our group. It was a lovely setting, and it was very nice to have our very own dining room. Before the meal began, Ken discussed the possibility of a national convention and the numerous hours of work and dedication it requires.

On a light note, Len Vineyard was presented with a sign that Irene found in one of the antique shops which said “Insane Asylum.” He was thrilled with the addition of another sign for his collection!

Our meal choices consisted of tilapia, Atlantic salmon, New York strip steak, or pan-seared chicken breast. All entrees were delicious. After dinner we all returned back to the Quality Inn for our last night’s stay. Pete decided to drive home Sunday evening as Marylou was unable to come with him.

After breakfast and checking out of the Quality Inn, we drove to St. Joe to tour Sechler’s Fine Pickles. We were divided into two tour groups and learned much about the processing and packaging of pickles. At any time there is between 45 and 65 employees working depending on the season. The peppers and the cut dill pickles are all hand packed. In the retail area there were many different items and pickles from which to choose. They also had an area where you could sample different kinds of pickles. Most everyone left with a purchase of pickles. Mail order forms were available too.

Most of said our “good-byes” before departing on the journey home. There would be one more stop along the toll way but some decided not to stop. Unfortunately, on the way home Jerry and Pat Peterson had some major breakdown with their T-Bird. It happened after our last stop, and their car had to be towed the remainder of the way home.

There were 15 little birds in our group, 1 retro bird, and 4 serviceable vehicles. We especially thank Larry and Karen for their time in planning this tour.
On the fall tour scene were 33 participants including the following: Tom & Judy Bruin, Gordon Gluff & Mary Ziemba, Joel Greenberg & Annie Luginbill, Larry Johnson & Sue Hommedieu, Len & Mary Keil, Larry & Karen Kelly, Joe & Sandy Kraatz, Pete Kramer, Ed Levin & Rose Kovalenko, Dan Mrozek & Judy Butler, Jerry & Doreen Michna, Ron Pavlak, Jerry & Pat Peterson, Doug & Soon Hee Rogers, Lloyd & Joan Schellin, Ken & Kathy Smizinski, Len & Irene Vinyard, and Jim Wilson.

Joan Schellin

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