Michael F 1948 Custom Eight Victoria Convertible

An Extraordinary Life

Clarence Opsal once played piano for Lawrence Welk. He also was one of three owners of S.O.S. Packard Dealership in Williston, North Dakota. Clarence was on the lookout for a "special Packard" and he found it. One of 1105 made purchased new in Hollywood, California by W.W. Bumgardner affiliated with The Los Angeles Breakfast Club. The automobile was a 1948 Packard Custom 8 Victoria Convertible. Packard Ivory exterior with light red leather tan broadcloth insert interior, the magnificent 356 straight eight with overdrive and electomatic clutch.

I received a phone call in 2005 from members of the Opsal family and I became the third owner. Upon completion of a full restoration I contacted the Opsals and asked if they would like to see the car since they had much history and affection regarding this automobile and the patriarch of the family. They couldn't believe it and it just so happened they had a large family re-union scheduled in the upcoming week. It was mentioned what a shame that Clarence' brother Harold was nursing his wife and wouldn't be able to attend. I offered to drive the car on its maiden voyage to Harold's lake home and did so. Neighbors and friends greeted the car, photos taken and stories told, I bid my leave and said I would stop at Loon Lake Granite Point Resort to inspect the vehicle and its components for the journey home to Spokane, Washington.

I drove into the resort, a car skid to a stop and a man ran to flag me down. He was with his wife and son, had rented a cabin for the week and were just leaving for home.His name, he said was Chuck Bumgardner from Glendale, California. He went on to say his grandfather Willie Bumgardner owned a car just like this, same color in and out and he especially remembered waxing the cellular grille as a very young boy. His grandfather would reward him for a job well done by "letting me ride solo" in the back seat to get ice cream at their favorite spot in Hollywood. I suggested he memorialize the event, that he and his wife seat themselves in the driver and front passenger seat, allow their son "solo" in the back and I would photograph them with their camera. All were excited.

Chuck decided to stay in touch and authentically documented that this was in fact the very "grille" he was rewarded for waxing as a little boy for his beloved Grandfather "Willie". Mr. Willie Warn Bumgardner. I was informed shortly thereafter by his wife that Chuck had passed away of cancer.

Just yesterday, I was driving along in Spokane running errands, when an old friend Denny Wilkerson came alongside in his 1930 Chevrolet. He said his wife Benita was in the Riverview Care Center and he was "hosting" a car show for the residents and workers and especially for his wife. He begged me to bring the Packard round from 10am until noon, which I did.

It was a wonderful array of automobiles and many happy residents. A man approached me and said he was Harold Opsal, that he and his wife now live at the care center and all were exstatic when he was photographed in the drivers' seat just as he recalled all the memories of family, friends and an extraordinary life.

0 Reader Comments

Join the Discussion