The Odessa Record -

Harrington news

Studebaker Garage to continue operating with daughter following in dad's footsteps


August 10, 2017

--Photos courtesy of Leonard Robertson.

The 1902 Studebaker electric wagon as it appeared prior to the restoration work performed by Jerry Giesecke.

Fundraiser and memorial benefit at Studebaker Garage

The Studebaker Garage was full of activity prior to the Saturday event of July 15. Cars were being hustled, cleaned, polished and positioned. The building was cleaned and set up for the BBQ, PDA fundraiser and Memorial Benefit Lunch for the founding father of The Studebaker Garage in Harrington, Allen Barth. The crew included Heather Slack, Tim Tipton, Loren and Terry Howe, Gabe Garcia and Jerilyn Key, Jay Gossett and Paul Charlton. Cars were arriving Friday evening and by 10 a.m. Saturday Harrington was beginning to look much like it had for the many previous car shows that Allen Barth had organized.

A steady flow of people and autos came to this event. The townspeople were pleased to meet and greet the family of Allen Barth, his three sisters and two brothers in attendance: Florence Coffey of Spokane, Thia Barth from Oregon, Nancy Kelley of Greenacres, David Barth from Elk and Sidney Barth of Winona. Two nieces, Marcy Thill and Rebecca Coffey, and two nephews, Jeff Coffey and Nick Barth of Seattle, cousin Cheri, and Allen's aunt and uncle Renee and Kenney Schultz also were present. Locally, Allen's wife Pat was present, daughter Jill Plaskon and her three children: Reese Bentley, Sidney Plaskon and Jack Plaskon, and his son Jimmy Barth circulated with the crowds. Jimmy was the main chef for the BBQ in the decorated spacious garage with red, white and blue balloons and banners creating a festive atmosphere. Tables were available for those who were eating and music played, "oldies but goodies primarily from the 1950s." More than 70 meal tickets were sold before the drawing occurred.

Raffle tickets were sold for a seven day stay at the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort in Cabo, Mexico. Shortly after 2 p.m. Grace Barth, great-niece of Allen's and daughter of Nick and Katie Barth, selected the winning ticket which Jay Gossett announced as John Wagner. A case (six-pack) of Cam Oil was also raffled and the winner of that item was Matt Wagner.

Future plans for the Studebaker Garage were summarized this way by Jill Plaskon: "I will own and run it in the same manner that Dad did. We aren't changing anything, except moving my hair salon into one of the front rooms. We plan to continue our annual car show, host events, car clubs, weddings, dances, and music events. We will also be offering heated indoor storage for antique cars to be viewed in a museum setting. We are looking forward to continuing the promotion and growth of the small and mighty community of Harrington, Washington".

Electric wagon at Harrington

Friday, August 4, the Studebaker Garage was beginning to attract attention by 11 a.m. as Jill Plaskon, heir-apparent of the Studebaker Garage, circulated among community supporters awaiting the arrival of the Northwest Chapter of the Antique Studebaker Club. Some of the local helpers and audience included Ted Hatcher, Jay Gossett, Loren Howe, Dan Fromm, Tim Campou, Len Robertson and the family of Jill Plaskon. Although somewhat delayed en route with a tour through Edwall and unavoidable construction areas, seven or eight antique Studebakers arrived with other automobiles totaling about 35 persons who came to view the "main event" which was the presentation and demonstration of a newly restored 1902 Studebaker Electric Wagon.

Jerry Giesecke of Kennewick and James Bell of Bellingham piloted the 1902 Studebaker electric wagon through the streets of Harrington on July 15.

The 1902 Electric Wagon is owned by James and Stephanie Bell of Bellingham, WA who had obtained the wagon south of Tacoma, but stated that it had originated from Montana. The restoration took about eight years and most of the labor was done by Jerry Gieseke of Kennewick. Bell and Gieseke, both dressed in spotless white shirts and black suits, capped with black derby hats, rode the Electric Wagon out of the Studebaker Garage onto 3rd Street with a crowd of maybe 75 persons on-looking. After a trip south and then north on 3rd, Bell exited the wagon and assisted Joan Gieseke to ride with her husband. Following their trek, Bell and his wife Stephanie made the same trip. Videos and photos galore were being taken of this unique automobile. The wagon has a top speed of 12 mph and it is said to be the smallest truck of its kind. An extensive array of photos were in an album which documented every step of the restoration process, including individual photos of each of the identifying Studebaker brass plates. The original battery that powered this wagon held a charge for a 40 to 60 mile trip. It has electric head lights, two side lights and tail lights. Gieseke is now a retired machinist who happens to own a 1927 Big Six Studebaker. His wife loves to share some of the details of the restoration, clueing listeners in to the difficulty Gieseke had with so many parts being made of wood.

Quite a number of the "club members" were from Canada. The woman from Wenatchee stated that she has three Studebaker Coupes: '46, '41 and a 1930. Jim Thompson from Columbus, Ohio did not bring his Studebaker, instead he came in an "Airbus 319." He does own a 1929 Commander 4-door Sedan, but sadly, he said it has not been running the past five years. Everyone enjoyed a lovely barbecue and visited in the shade of the huge Studebaker Garage.


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