Saturday is the date the LeMay family opens its doors to let the public see the cars and collections at their family home and the Marymount Event Center. This event has been a Parkland/Spanaway staple for 35 years. In order to bring that event to the public, the family has a long list of dedicated car lovers, relatives and family friends that help out in advance. I headed over to Nancy LeMay’s home on “C” Street today to take a look.
There I found Jack Tomasch from the LeMay restoration shop and Tom Shandrow, polishing up a recently restored 1924 Oldsmobile. Tom was polishing it with a final coat of wax. I asked them where everyone was, they replied, “Over at Marymount, lunch was there today.” So I headed over to Marymount, arriving just after lunch was over. There in the kitchen were three ladies, just finishing up the dishes and starting to prepare plates of vegetable for the volunteer dinner. One of the ladies introduced herself as Nancy’s sister. She comes out from Elma to help with the meals, lunch and dinner for a group of 40 to as many as 700. These are the volunteers who are cleaning and polishing cars, setting up displays, moving the lawn, sweeping the sidewalks, raising tents, moving chairs and tables, putting lines in the parking lots and a long list of other tasks. This process begins at least two months before the car show every year. It is a group effort and labor of love.
Today a volunteer told me, it’s different than the museum. This is the family’s home; it’s a relaxed atmosphere and folksy. That’s why some of them have been coming here for so long to help with the event, year after year. They just love the old cars and the memories that go along with them.
Marymount is an especially unusual place. It was a convent for the Sisters of St. Dominic and they ran a military school
there. There’s a beautiful chapel with frescoes and stained glass windows up stairs. The old gym is now filled with cars. The music practice rooms have doll collections and the old swimming pool has been covered and the room filled with cars. The parade ground has become a parking lot and the locker rooms turned into a senior center. Benjamin Wright sold it to the sisters in 1898.
So the tents are up, the cars are polished; the tables are set up for the coffee and hot dogs. The auctioneers have their gems and jalopies ready for sale. Everyone is looking forward to a great day to celebrate the automobile. If you happen to see one of those volunteers, you might ask them how many days they worked in advance and how many years they have been doing this. The answers will amaze you.
A thank you and a pat on the back to all of you who help make this open house such a great event every year! And a special hug to Nancy LeMay, who has kept everyone going so many years.
And here’s the News Tribune’s story from event day.