Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tacoma, Washington: LeMay Family Collection

 I took a lot of photos of historical buildings, bought lots of crazy knee high socks and drank the best coffee while I was in Washington State with my family.  I mostly visited Bainbridge Island, Port Townsend and Hansville. My objective was to take at least one inspired photo per day despite the rain or chilly temperatures.  The inspiration came easily when Jeffrey and I spent the day at LeMay America's Car Museum and LeMay Family Collection.  All the photos on this post were taken from the Family Collection in Tacoma, Washington.  The Family Collection was more interesting than America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington.  

Inside the white warehouse at LeMay Family Collection

The tour guide was exceptional.  He had the black jacket and ball cap on the left. He didn't try to win us over with puns or cheesy game show style questioning, he was a passionate volunteer.  It was as if he was changing oil in his garage and we were just leaning against a work bench listening to stories.  I did zone him out at times like when I gazed into a 1950’s convertible and fantasized sha-na-na teens ordering at a drive-thru burger stand.  This guy talked about the cars and trucks like they were family.  There are thousands of cars in LeMay’s collection and we saw a mere fraction.

Once the pack of us stepped through the aluminum threshold, I felt like I had shrunk down and walked through my brothers red Hot Wheels collector case.

The Lucky sign was the best, it was a man cave trophy bigger than ever. The experience enlightened me.  It made me feel that it is OK to want and have anything you want. Harold LeMay of Harold LeMay Enterprises had a refuse company in the Tacoma, Washington.  His car collecting started in the 1960's when his friend asked him to join a Model T club because it was fun.  All he ever wore was a white t-shirt and jeans and drove a hot pink Tracker for gas economy.  His main focus was to save money in order to buy more cars.  

This was a single story layout and most of the cars were American made, turn of the century and beyond.  I liked all the 1950’s cars.  The guide didn’t stop at each car or I would have clobbered him.

LeMay even collected vintage automobilia, I am surprised he didn’t have an entire service station from the 1950’s in a corner. There were some cars that had the original paper taped to the window from when he bought it!

1959 Pink Cadillac with the fin at it's pinnacle of height and sharpness.  
I learned that after 1959 the point continued to get smaller and finally go away.

1958 Chevrolet Apache Cameo *guess who wants this for their very own?* 

I think trying to describe the collection is beyond this blog.  It is like going to the Grand Canyon to see what a large space is.  You really won't understand until you experience it for yourself.  I have more knowledge on cars than ever before. It wasn't the details that matter.  I do know that the Pearce Arrow hood emblem was designed with the janitor posing with a broom because he was really cut! It was feeling from our tour guide that stays with me.  By the 4th warehouse of cars he wasn't tired of talking about cars. He wasn't winding down at all.  I was ready to scream and run away if he mentioned going into another warehouse.  We were lucky I guess for getting to hang out with someone who knew and loved cars so much. 

 If someone reads this post and knows him, please let me know.


  1. Sounds like fun. Hard to believe one person bought all of those cars. You could just drive a new car every day.

  2. Never too late to start a collection, no matter how big or small.
    Lake wobegon talking

  3. Erik, it is so awesome of you to read and comment on my post. I am thrilled that you like it. Next year why don't we all go visit the Family Collection again. I would never tire of seeing those cars. Did I just say that?!