If we are lucky enough to arrive at our senior years, we will have made contact with hundreds of people during our lifetimes and it is interesting to look back and remember our interactions with some of them. Our interactions with this month’s subjects, Ken Hoshowski and his family, go back a long way.
In the fifties, Ken and my sister, Miriam, were in the same class at Kam High, graduated together and were both in the woodwind section of the Kam High band. Three years later, I was in the same section of the band, sitting beside Ken’s sister, Darlene. My first job with the City of Kamloops was working for Ken’s dad, who was in charge of the parking meter department. And now, here we are 50-plus years later, with Ken and I both heavily involved with the Vintage Car Club and both in the woodwind section of the Rube Band with Ken’s son, Bruce, sitting beside me playing the alto sax. That’s a lot of coincidences, but, we are here to talk about vintage vehicles and their owners.
Ken was born in Vernon in 1941 and spent his early childhood there until moving to Kamloops in 1954 when his father took a position with the CNR. His first jobs were a paper route and then working as a box boy at the new Super Valu store at 4th Avenue and St. Paul Street. Upon his graduation from Kam High in 1959 he became a full-time employee of Super Valu and was promoted to assistant manager or the North Kamloops store in 1960. In 1962, at the ripe old age of 21, Ken was promoted to manage the Kitimat Super Valu, the youngest manager in the system. From there he went on to manage the Powell River store for six years, then to Vancouver for a year and then back to Kamloops in 1970 where he opened the new Super Valu store in the Thompson Park Mall.
In 1975, the family made the move to own and operate the Super Valu store in Salmon Arm and stayed there until his retirement 19 years later.
Marge was born in Enderby, graduated from high school in 1957 and went on to work in Vernon in the accounting department of Kelly Douglas, a grocery wholesaler. She was transferred to the Kamloops location and Ken first set eyes on her when he used to drop off his orders at the Kelly Douglas office. A friend asked if he would like to be introduced to her, the answer being a definite “Yes,” things unfolded as they should, and they were married in 1962 in Kamloops. After their transfer to Kitimat they began their family of three boys and Marge was a stay-at-home mom until going back to help with everything from meat wrapping to accounting at their Salmon Arm store.
When it became time for Ken to purchase his first car, he had his heart set on a 1935 Plymouth coupe, but his dad talked him out of it and instead he bought a brand-new 1960 Volkswagen Beetle from Skychief Motors in Kamloops for the sum of $1985. The Beetle served him well for a year or so until it was hit in the front end and never steered properly after that. Ken must have been better off than most of us when he was younger for he always had a new car and the VW was traded off on a 1961 Pontiac Parisienne 2-door hardtop (known as a bubble top). In 1965 the Pontiac was traded in on a new Beaumont SS hardtop and a year later it was replaced with a 1966 Ford Country Sedan (station wagon) which was their family vehicle for many years.
As with most of our vintage car lovers, they also have other passions and one of Ken’s other interests is flying. In 1970 he obtained his pilots licence and enjoyed flying several different light planes until the late 80s when he decided to try building his own plane. After making the order for an RV-6, the plans arrived and when they were rolled out on the bench he wondered what he had gotten himself into. However, two of his majors in high school were draughting and metalwork and he thought he had the knowledge to tackle the project so he forged ahead and four years later the RV-6 made its first flight and it is still flying today.
In 1998, Ken and Marge joined the Shuswap Chapter of the Vintage Car Club of Canada (VCCC) and their vintage ride at the time was a 1967 MGB roadster which underwent a total restoration. Ken had always loved his 1961 Pontiac bubble top and decided to see if he could find another one. The search turned up a 1961 Pontiac Bonneville (American model) four-door hardtop in Halifax and even though it was not the desired bubble top, it was in such good condition that they made the purchase and had it shipped by truck and train to Salmon Arm. In 2007, the Hoshowskis made the move back to Kamloops, bringing the Pontiac and the MGB with them and promptly joined the Kamloops Chapter and became heavily involved in our Club. Ken is one of our Governors, co-chaired our 2013 May Tour, chaired the National 150 Tour in 2017 and was National Vice-President for several terms.
Ken has been in management roles for most of his life but has always enjoyed working with his hands, creating things. When Jack Woolard, one of our local members, decided to sell out and move to the Coast, he put his Durant Star up for sale. This car was totally dismantled and the pieces were in piles of boxes. Ken had never heard of a Durant Star at the time but learned about the car being up for sale and with his tools, materials and background in building airplanes he was confident that he could take on this difficult project. Restoring a car like the Star is unlike rebuilding a Model T or A Ford, as there are few reproduction parts available and hunting down the missing pieces is a huge challenge. The car was originally a sedan but had been converted into a pickup truck, probably during World War II when trucks were unobtainable. It was Ken’s original intention to rebuild it as a pickup, but being well over six feet tall, it occurred to him that he would not be able to fit in the original cab. He then decided to rebuild it as a delivery van (which allowed the driver’s seat to be moved rearward) and proceeded to use his aircraft fabricating skills to construct almost the entire body out of aluminum and the finished product (several years later) is a thing of beauty.
Now in his 79th year, Ken is not about to sit on his laurels and is in the process of tracking down a 1966 Ford station wagon, just like the one they used to own back in the sixties. If the quest is successful, Ken will be busy for a few more years yet.