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Finally made it to South Bend

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  • Finally made it to South Bend

    So after all these years of being a Studebaker owner I finally made it to South Bend and visited the museum. The impression the town left on me was very different than what I expected. I came in from the west side on 20 (2?) and there was a detour that led me through an entire section of town that looked like it had been neglected for 50 years or more. I could hardly believe what I saw it was so bad, and I would have expected much of it to be condemned. Upon finding downtown I was surprised by the obvious efforts to make South Bend more beautiful alongside buildings and sections that had a ways to go in that direction. The Studebaker corridor was really much more dilapidated than I imagined, and I shuddered to think what the town looked like with even more of the old buildings standing and deteriorating.

    Then I visited Notre Dame and the contrast to what I had seen elsewhere could hardly be exaggerated. There was nothing that wasn't first class as far as I could see. And the Studebaker museum was just as good as I thought it would be, though a little smaller than I imagined.

    I'm glad I went and I'm glad I can put a new light on the corporation and the business. I think South Bend is trying hard to remake itself, but to be honest the work that has to be done to lift the whole city is immense and I think it will take decades.

    I don't mean to offend anyone about the city, but after being all over the country and seeing hundreds of cities and towns, this is my first impression.
    " the exception in individuals, but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche.

  • #2
    Hi Scott,
    I hope you had lunch or better yet, dinner and toured the Tippecanoe Studebaker Mansion. It is a "Must See" as where else do you find 26,000 SQ FT with 40 rooms and 20 fireplaces? Apparently I go there every 36 years!


    • #3
      Scott, I was born in South Bend and raised in Mishawaka, the city just east of SB. South Bend was a bustling city with many large retail establishments and entertainment venues when I entered high school in 1962. By the time I graduated in 1966 the city, (entire area), was depressed and it has never recovered. I entered the Army in 1966 and upon returning, it was worse. I left the area in 1969 and did not return until 1976 for a high school reunion and they had actually poured dirt over the pavement in down town SB to make it more like a mall, but most of the retail establishment were gone and the city was barely alive. Just in the last few years, South Bend was on the top ten list of depressed cities in the US. The city government is trying to re purpose itself from an industrial city to one of technology and education. A lot of money is going into rehabbing buildings and trying to draw interest to the area. I visit the area almost every year now to visit with the few relatives still there.
      You saw some of the worst areas, but to be honest, those were the bad areas when South Bend was thriving, so what can you expect? Hopefully the area can find a happy place and become the great place to raise a family and live that it was 50+ years ago.
      It brings to mind, to not put all your eggs in one basket. South Bend was Studebaker and Studebaker was South Bend.
      It's much like the area just east of South Bend that was a major RV manufacturing area. The slow down a few years ago devastated the area and saw most of the major RV builders going under or being bought out by other manufacturers and moved out of the area. Now it's mostly smaller class C motor homes and 5TH wheels or trailers. Still going strong, but probably at about 30% of what it was.
      All I can say is, at least it's not Detroit.
      sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
      1950 Champion Convertible
      1950 Champion 4Dr
      1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
      1957 Thunderbird