Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Fun Day in South Bend

Sept 7, 2008

So who would have guessed that the home of "The Enemy", as my father would have reminded me (we Michigan State Spartans do NOT like the University of Notre Dame!!), we would have such a fun day? It turned out that South Bend, Indiana is a really nice small city with lots of great stuff to do-- unfortunately, we only had time for two stops.

We went first to the National Studebaker Museum, as we'd planned. It was really fun--the place was packed with great old cars. And as we say, "they just don't make them like that anymore!" The first floor is a great historical retrospective with information about the Studebaker family, who started out as blacksmiths and then started making wagons of all kinds--army wagons, farm carts, etc (in fact, the Studebaker brother who contributed $8,000 to get the business off the ground made his money during the California Gold Rush--not by striking it rich, but by building wheelbarrows for the miners!!) When the automobile came along, the Studebaker brothers cautiously invested in electric cars and later in gasoline powered ones, but kept the wagon and carriage business (they also made horse-drawn carriages of all descriptions, and even a fancy sleigh) going for a few decades longer, just in case this new idea of the automobile turned out to be a passing fad.

I thought we'd seen the whole museum, but in accordance with the Studebaker motto, "Always give more than you promise", it turned out that upstairs was as good as downstairs. There we found dozens more Studebakers of every description, gleaming in beautiful colors and most looking as if they'd just rolled off the manufacturing line. We spent some time browsing, and I even called home to ask my mother what kind of Studebaker she and Daddy had owned when they first got married (too bad, she wasn't home to tell me.) There were also period vignettes such as the Bonnie Doon Drive In set up, with a girl in her poodle skirt standing at the counter with the original Bonnie Doon sign (you could have burger, fries, and a milkshake all for $1.00.) Finally I took Joe's photo next to Fozzie Bear's car from The Muppet Movie ("AHH! A bear in his natural habitat--a Studebaker!") See my first blog entry in August 2007 for some great views of this auto, driven by a frog and a bear, in action.

After we left Studebaker, we had a bite to eat (it was 3 pm), and then we headed for our next destination--the National College Football Hall of Fame. We decided to check that out when we saw the signs for it as we drove into South Bend from the highway, despite fearing that perhaps there would be a lot more about the Fighting Irish than we Spartans wanted to hear. I was sorry I hadn't thought to wear a Michigan State t-shirt for the occasion, but Joe was wearing a State hat, so we decided that would do to make it clear who exactly WE were rooting for (be sure to click this link, LOL!!!!) [Note: when I linked to this site, they were showing an awesome MSU Football video. Today, 9/20/08, it seems to be about hockey. So I suppose it doesn't stay the same. Oh well, I loved the football version!]

The Hall of Fame turned out to be a total blast-- a must-see for any college football fan. We entered by way of a spiral walkway, which lead around a fabulous sculpture which depicted all the aspects of college life in relation to football. In the photo below, you can see the main column which is made up of stacks of textbooks, Igloo coolers, and pizza boxes. You can also see a couple of the statues (there were others, including some guys sitting on the bench, and a quarterback in action), laundry detergent (you can't see the piles of sweat socks), play diagrams (they are hanging in the front), etc. What you can't see includes a huge Purdue drum head, cheerleader pompoms and megaphones, musical instruments, computers, and all the other paraphernalia which goes along with college football.

The exhibits included coverage of each decade of college football from the very beginning (they had the sign from the Rutgers campus, as well as a description, of the first Rutgers-Princeton game). Each decade included an interactive kiosk where you could look up any team, and then find out details about famous players and coaches from that team in that decade. Here is Joey looking at clips from the career of Brad Van Pelt during the 70's when we were at MSU:

Other exhibits included a discussion of team mascots, with a "book" of almost life-size photos (isn't Sparty seriously ugly??):

Marching bands (the book in the front allows you to find your team and play the fight song--yes, of course I sang along with the ENTIRE song--Joey pretended not to know me):
And one on great school rivalries. These were so clever--the school penant was a hologram, and depending on how you looked at it, you could see either team's name. The penants were accompanied by a little blurb about the two teams, mascots, and a card on the top which told what date in 2008 the two teams would be meeting. Below: Michigan State vs. University of Michigan. Sparty is the handsome looking statue; the fuzzy thing on the right is a wolverine.
There were other exhibits too--on sports reporting, bowl games (with every bowl, with every year's teams and scores), coaches, and interactive trivia games. There was also an area where you could try your own skills at kicking, passing, cheerleading, etc; a special exhibit on football at traditionally African-American colleges, and a 10 minute film which was almost all clips of teams, games, marching bands, etc, to give you the real feel of a college football game (unfortunately, one of the most identifiable moments in this lengthy collage was a semi-slow-motion replay of a Michigan Wolverine retrieving a fumble, scoring a touchdown, and triumphantly spiking the ball, with a totally silent Penn State band standing visible just behind him! Sorry, Aimee!!)

We definitely give this museum a winning score!! We thought it was tons of fun.

We were the last to leave the building at 5:15 (it closed at 5), and from there we routed ourselves back to Elkhart via non-highways, just to see a little of the countryside. South Bend itself seemed like a nice place to go to college...assuming you couldn't get into a BETTER school, of course . We got back to the campground at around 6 pm, and the evening included replacing the headlight which hadn't already been replaced, but which evidently burned out in the last day (a nice motorcyclist passing us shouted "Headlight out!" as he went by, thus alerting us to the problem), a yummy spaghetti dinner, and some reading. Now it's almost midnight, and Joe has been asleep for over an hour while I wrote this blog. It's a good thing I know how much I enjoy reading it months later.... because it sure is time consuming!

1 comment:

Aimee said...

Excuse me!! How about a mention of the wonderful Nittany Lions???? No picture of our lion? Hmph. and you expect me to read your blog?????