A Passion for Cars – Harold LeMay

Harold LeMay in the Navy

This past weekend, my husband and I toured the amazing LeMay Family Collection at Marymount—an automobile museum in Spanaway, Washington, housing approximately 1,500 cars.  As we walked from one building to another looking at literally hundreds of antique cars, trucks and motorcycles, I was struck by the obvious passion responsible for creating this incredible automobile showcase.  This was no passing fancy; and what grew out of Harold LeMay’s lifetime interest in old vehicles is a legacy that people can enjoy for years to come.

Marymount Facility. Photo courtesy of the
LeMay Family Collection Foundation website

The facility is located on the grounds of the former Marymount Military Academy for Boys run by Dominican Nuns until the 1970’s.  (That’s a story all by itself!)  The setting is beautiful and well-maintained; with towering trees, manicured green lawns and the original historical, brick buildings.  Note:  The LeMay Family Collection is not to be confused with the LeMay-America’s CarMuseum located in Tacoma, Washington that opened this summer.  The two museums operate independently.

Harold LeMay earned his fortune collecting trash.  In addition to picking up our garbage every week, he also acquired Lucky Towing, AA Lucky Storage, LeMay Restoration, Parkland Auto Wrecking, Helm Manufacturing, and various properties.  His reputation for being a hard worker was clearly well-deserved.  For years the LeMay name has been synonymous with garbage collection and recycling services.  Today, Mr. LeMay is famous for having amassed the largest antique car collection in the world.

Our tour guide described Harold as someone who loved cars so much he couldn’t bear to see them destroyed.  He loved tinkering, fixing and restoring old cars.  He even collected old car parts in case they were needed later.  As his reputation for being a car collector grew, strangers would call Mr. LeMay to offer him the old cars their parents or grandparents used to drive.

Harold LeMay lived to be 81 years old before passing away in 2000.  Fortunately for us, his obsession with antique cars never waned throughout his life.  As I looked at one beautiful, old car after another, I realized Mr. LeMay was truly an example of what happens when a person spends 10,000 hours learning a subject or practicing a new skill.  The result is that this collection is more than just about the man; it is the ability to view history reflected in the cars we used to drive.

To be an authority on old cars, Harold LeMay, did what came naturally—he focused his attention and spent as much time as he could on what he loved.  The same is true for any of us.  We each have subjects we are drawn to or curious about.  We have hobbies that absorb us—callings that continue to knock on the door.  When we spend our time learning, practicing, training, exercising, or preparing, we become masters and maestros, experts, authorities, leaders and professionals, connoisseurs, even champions.  Becoming a master may require hard work and discipline; however, it sounds far more satisfying than settling for a boring existence.

If you want to visit or learn more about the LeMay collection at Marymount, check out their website, at http://www.lemaymarymount.org/.  To entice you, below are  just a few photographs of the  classic cars, graceful hood ornaments, beautiful curves, long fins, and real white wall tires.

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