Sunday, August 17, 2008

Packards Invade Richmond, MO

When I first met Levan Thurman, my friend Bruce's dad, I knew I had met a kindred spirit. I spied his car books on the shelf and soon heard that one of his favorite marques was Packard. "Thurman Funeral Home (his 3 generation family business) always used Packard service cars, limos, ambulances and coaches". He had pictures of a lot of them, remembered them all and even remembered going to Freeport, Il to pick up a new coach from the body maker Henney. I contacted my friend Steve who is president of the MidAmerica Packard club and said basically "you have to meet his fellow".

So about a year or so later...we did. The MidAmerica Packard Club's recent drive meet went to Richmond, MO to meet Levan and see his collection of Packard service car memorabilia. We spent the greater part of the day at Jeffrey Kyles' restaurant in Richmond, enjoying a big buffet lunch (a reasonable $7.50) and listening to Levan speak about his life of work with Packard autos. After the presentation, the Packards headed off to the Ray County museum for a tour and refreshments. Bruce and I headed home, content in the knowledge that we made Levan's day, entertained a great group of people and deserved a big ass cocktail when we got home.

Some Pics of "The Packards Invade Richmond"

Bob Aller's 1954 Long wheelbase Ambulance

Dr Tom Thomas' 1953 Mayfair and Jeff and Tina Pachl's 1955 Clipper Custom Constellation

Jack and Denise's 1940 Super 8 Seven Passenger Sedan

Levan in action

Photo of 1939, 1940 and 1941 Coaches owned by Thurman Funeral Home

Levan with a brand new 1948 Packard 8 Limo

Thanks to Levan, Jeffrey Kyle's Restaurant, Ray County Museum, Mid America Packards and to Bruce for a fun and educational Saturday.


Anonymous said...

Okay, that's pretty amazing. Even more so when you see them in person. Someday we'll be looking back at this decade and saying, "Those were the last generation of combustion-fossil fuel vehicles, kids!"

(Thank goodness.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Don, thanks for posting this! We had a great time, thanks to your assistance and introduction to the Thurmans. Levan is a wonderful guy, and was a lot of fun to meet and listen to.

As to the above comment, it matters not what you put in the fuel tank, you can't deny that an era of elegance and individualism has passed. If I have to one day convert from gasoline to some other motive power, I will still run my Packard as a reminder of days when things could be beautiful in addition to being functional.

Packard was the kind of company that would have been the leader in alternative propulsion, if only to meet the engineering challenge and advance the state of the art. The cars we love were a product of their times, built to move people and make money. They are only guilty of failing in the latter, finally.

Thanks, Don, for a day of smiles!