Boushey walks behind a tractor chugging up a vineyard row. Photos by Chad Bremerman.
On the southern slope of the Rattlesnake Hills, where nature provides an ideal blend of warm days slowly fading into cool nights, Dick Boushey produces what are recognized as some of the finest wine grapes in the country.
“I feel lucky to be able to do this,” the 61-year-old grower humbly observes, referring to some 300 acres planted in wine grapes, juice grapes, apples and cherries in four different sites around Grandview. “I like what I’m doing.”
Boushey shares his home, settled in the midst of his vineyards, with wife of 34 years, Luanne. From there, he “can sit and look out at Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and all the Horse Heaven Hills. Behind me is the stark beauty of sagebrush. In ‘the world according to Dick,’ I have the perfect setting,” he says. It’s these same vineyards where his two daughers grew up. “On the farm,” he says.
Boushey specializes in Syrah grapes — a dark-skinned fruit that has become popular for its full-bodied, intense red wines — as well as Merlot and Cabernet grapes. He also raises other Bordeaux grapes, with a few Italian and Spanish grape varieties thrown in for good measure. Although he does not make wine commercially, he sells to 35 wineries in Washington and Oregon. His name appears on bottles for about 10 varieties of wine made by 15 wineries, ranging from Maison Bleue in Walla Walla to Fidelitas Winery in Benton City. Boushey also manages local vineyards for Efeste Winery and the Upchurch Vineyard.
Among his honors, he’s received the 2002 Erick Hanson Wine Grape Grower of the Year award from the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers, the 2007 Walter Clore Award from the Washington State Grape Society and the 2008 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers’ Industry Service Award. In addition, he sits on numerous boards, including Welch’s National Grape Cooperative, the Washington State Wine Commission and the Auction of Washington Wines (which raises money for Children’s Hospital in Seattle).
Boushey’s outgoing manner and wide range of experience draw enthusiastic reviews from his peers and acquaintances alike.
“He’s a very affable, friendly guy, a lot of fun to be around,” observed Wade Wolfe, co-owner and winemaker for Thurston Wolfe Winery in Prosser. “I’ve known Dick for at least 30 years. He is among the most active members of the wine industry — not just as a grower, but as an advocate and representative.”
And noted wine columnist Paul Gregutt thinks Boushey is quite a character. “Before turning to wine writing, I worked in radio and television and interviewed hundreds of artists, musicians, actors and media personalities. Dick Boushey is right out of central casting, and I mean that in the best possible way,” Gregutt said. “When you look up Yakima grape grower in the dictionary, you get a picture of Dick Boushey. He is humble, dedicated, innovative, canny, self-effacing, witty, immensely talented and relentlessly hard-working. I have often written, and believe in my heart, that his vineyard produces, among many other successes, the best Syrah grapes in the country.”
The rave reviews are all the more remarkable for a man who didn’t want to go into agriculture. In fact, Boushey started out in finance. In the 1970s, Boushey studied banking at the University of Puget Sound, after years of helping out on farms in the Sumner area. He was fed up with summers spent picking everything from blueberries to rhubarb, strawberries, daffodils and tulips.
“I went to school to become a banker, but I found I didn’t enjoy it,” he explained. “In 1975, my dad bought an apple orchard in Grandview and asked me to run it. It was supposed to be for only one year.”
But one thing led to another, and Boushey discovered that farming might not be so bad after all.
“The challenge of making a living off a farm is you have to be very creative, work very hard, outthink Mother Nature, outthink the market,” he said. He began planting wine grapes in 1980 when the industry was just beginning in Central Washington.
“I’ve had to learn over the years how these things grow,” he observed. “At first, it was just intuitive. Everyone was learning together. The wine industry here wasn’t taken very seriously then, but I was fascinated by it.”
Nowadays, though, he knows what’s going on in the plants. “I have really good people working for me … I read a lot. I hang out at the WSU Prosser research center (where wine grape research is done).”
Boushey routinely walks through every block of grapes he’s planted. He still has to laugh as he passes through his first plot of Cabernet grapes.
“I had no clue what I was doing,” he recalls. “In the middle, several rows curve and are uneven. But now I know where the rocky areas are, where the good soil is.”
His renowned Syrah grapes, now his biggest seller, came along in 1993.
“I was one of the earlier growers of Syrah,” Boushey explained. “The conditions here — higher elevation, cooler so that the grapes ripen later but don’t get high alcohol content or over-ripen, shallow, rockier soil that allows us to keep the canes shorter and pick smaller grapes with good color — are the closest thing to the Old World origins of this grape of anything in the New World, even California.”
And he says he never has enough Syrah. “It’s different from other reds. It has a big, bold taste. It’s lush. It doesn’t have harshness. You don’t need to age the grapes as long. They reflect where they’re grown, and can taste dramatically different.”
Jon Meuret, owner and winemaker for Maison Bleue in Walla Walla, has purchased grapes from Boushey since 2008.
“He’s great to work with,” Meuret says. “He’s got a keen sense of how to struggle the vine (a technique of making the vine work harder) to make great fruit and he’s also got a great palate … All of the top wineries want to be in his vineyard(s).”
In Boushey’s words, there’s “a lot of hype in the wine business,” and he admits there’s a certain romance to the idea of growing exceptional grapes. But, he says, “What’s important is doing things right year after year and making a good product.”
Boushey says that he has never had his own winery “because I’ve never had the time or the money. I also kept thinking, ‘I would have to compete with my customers.’” However, he and his father-in-law, Glen Holden, have dabbled in making a small amount of wine over the past 30 years.
“We probably make about 55 gallons a year,” Boushey said. “I love wine. I’m a wine nut. I drink all kinds of wine.”
And he has no intention of ever leaving the industry he loves.
“I’m probably going to do this ’til I fall off the truck one day,” he says with a laugh.
Dick Boushey in his Grandview vineyard.
The autumn sun shines on vineyards in harvest.
The view from Boushey's vineyards is expansive.
Grapes are collected and ready for the next step in the process.
Grapes glow in the sunlight.
A field worker harvests Boushey vineyard grapes last fall.
A field worker picks grapes.
The dramatic Snoqualmie Falls is a popular tourist attraction. Salish Lodge & Spa is perched on a bluff nearby. Photos courtesy of Salish Lodge & Spa.
Snoqualmie Falls, drawing more than 1.5 million visitors each year, is one of Washington’s best-known tourist spots. Most give credit to the majestic waterfall, which cascades more than 260 feet down granite cliffs, for this distinction. However, anyone who has ever visited this area would also have to give at least partial credit to the Salish Lodge & Spa. With its mountain retreat atmosphere — and its popular country breakfast — the lodge can draw a crowd.
The Salish, which is located about 30 minutes east of Seattle and two hours from Yakima via Interstate 90, is a landmark in its own right. Opened in 1916 under the name Snoqualmie Falls Lodge, the facility has preserved the “getaway idea” of that original bed and breakfast, while growing and adapting to meet today’s tourist clientele.
“All seasons of the year are very popular for us,” said General Manager Rod Lapasin. “It’s just as popular in the winter when it’s a stormy day.”
Different seasons have their advantages, he explained. Summer offers more outdoor opportunities, such as walks and hikes, while winter offers nearby skiing and often a more spectacular view of the falls, with a higher water volume.
What once was an eight-bedroom lodge now has 84 guest rooms, with a jetted tub and fireplace in each room. (Room rates range from about $189 on a weeknight to $999 for a suite in peak season.) In addition to a spacious lobby, dining room and casual-food restaurant called The Attic, there is a spa that boasts sauna facilities, 10 “treatment rooms” and two soaking pools. A large gift shop offers everything from wine and candles to decorative owls. Some of the wooden flooring, walls and the dining room fireplace are original.
And, oh, the food! Salish is known for its country breakfast, with an assortment of freshly squeezed orange juice, steaming oatmeal, pancakes or sausage, fruit, eggs and other accompaniments, such as freshly baked biscuits. Granted, the meal costs $34 for adults and $22 for children (a $54 meal for two people to share also is available), but most trips to Salish are a special occasion. The country breakfast is served each day of the year.
Those who prefer lighter fare have other choices, of course. On a recent visit, I ordered the French toast with marmalade and candied hazelnuts for $17, while my companion tried the “Croque Madame,” an open-face ham and cheese sandwich with fried eggs and béchamel sauce on top ($19). Both were great. In all, the lodge hosts between 250 to 350 people every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during “brunch” hours, Lapasin says.
Dining room lunch and dinner selections range from grilled steelhead and pork loin to scallops, rib-eye steak and chocolate soufflé — and the prices tend to climb as the day goes on.
In The Attic, however, you can sample a pizza from a wood-fired oven for $15 to $18, sandwiches for $13 to $16 or even a cup of smoked salmon chowder for $7. There’s also a kid’s menu with three choices between $8 and $10.
Emphasis is placed upon “farm-to-table local offerings,” Lapasin says. That includes infusing many menu items with honey, fresh from its 12-hive apiary, and fresh herbs from its herb garden. Other natural elements of the lodge include glass centerpieces, made by a local artist, placed on the dining room tables in the evening.
The Salish Lodge & Spa underwent a refurbishment last year, with fresh touches ranging from new carpeting to wood refinishing and painting. This is one facility that really seems to maximize the benefits of “location, location, location.” From the subdued lighting to the banks of windows in the dining room, hallway and other locations, the emphasis is on the beauty of the natural surroundings. The earth-tone décor, with wood, brick and slate, is more subtle, drawing your eye to the view of the falls and the surrounding forest, both visible from a number of lodge windows.
“The beauty of our location is right outside the windows,” contends Lapasin, who noted that the nearest observation platform for the falls is just 20 yards away from the lodge. “It’s an oasis of peace and tranquility away from urban life — an idyllic setting.”
And, did I mention the food?
The entrance to Salish Lodge & Spa during the evening.
One of the Lodge's guest rooms.
The pizza oven at Salish Lodge's Attic restaurant.
The restaurant, as well as many other parts of the lodge, offer views of the stunning Snoqualmie Falls.
Fresh biscuits drizzled with Salish honey, as part of the âHoney from Heavenâ dining experience at Salish Lodge.
Salish Lodge's vanilla and spice infused waffles.
Snoqualmie Falls History: From ‘Moon’ God to ‘Twin Peaks’
Snoqualmie Falls has long been recognized as one of the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Plummeting more than 260 feet from a rocky shelf, the falls is actually 100 feet taller than the famed Niagara Falls.
Legend of the local Native Americans explained how “Snoqualm” or “Moon the Transformer” created the world and fashioned the falls from a fish trap. The waterfall was supposed to let the salmon swim upstream. However, the plan did not work.
By the 1850s, settlers were arriving in the Snoqualmie Valley. In the 1870s, several logging operations floated logs over the falls and down the river to Puget Sound and Everett — until a railroad proved a more efficient innovation.
In the 1890s, a man by the name of Charles Baker saw other value in the roaring falls and built an underground power plant with generating equipment that is still working today. Baker’s vision has been expanded, and Puget Sound Energy now has five generators at the site, supplying enough power for thousands of homes in the region.
Some of the area’s more colorful history includes a tightrope walker who, in 1889, successfully teetered his way over the falls. Another daredevil in the 1890s, Charlie Anderson, tried to parachute into the canyon and didn’t fare as well. As a crowd of people watched, the wind caught his parachute and slammed him into a boulder, resulting in his death.
In much more recent years, Snoqualmie Falls again drew special attention as exterior shots for the television show, “Twin Peaks,” were filmed in the area, beginning with a 1990 pilot. Both the falls and Salish Lodge were shown.
Beside the river in downtown Cork.
To me, Europe is like a huge treasure chest. Keep digging and you’ll find another great castle, a new hotel, the perfect store for buying mementos. So, as my daughter, Erin, and I were planning a trip to Europe last summer, my motto became, “If it’s within a couple of inches on the map, let’s go there! Who knows if we’ll ever be back?”
With that philosophy in mind, we set off on a 26-day marathon adventure. Our itinerary included several days in Ireland, a nine-day Baltic cruise (including stops in Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia), a swing through Vienna and Salzburg, Austria, and stops in Florence, Assisi and Lake Como, Italy, before a quick trip to Monte Carlo.
And then back home.
I’ll admit — especially toward the end of the trip — we reached a saturation level where we’d glance at a famous landmark, such as Florence’s Pitti Palace, and ask each other, “Want to go in?” “Nope.” “Do you?” “Not really.”
However, the marathon pace was worth it, considering the variety of sights and the incredible memories we made.
Our first clue that this was going to be a great trip came as our taxi pulled into the driveway of the Hayfield Manor in Cork, Ireland, our first stop. After hours of researching hotels online, I expected this place to be nice, but it was even better than I’d dreamed.
The Georgian-style inn, with its 88 guest rooms and beautiful grounds, made a luxurious home away from home, as we took day trips to see the sights. The staff could not have been more helpful, responding to questions and making touring suggestions. After a day of sightseeing, we could come back and eat in the hotel restaurant, read in the greenhouse outside or walk amid the lush vegetation.
For me, coming back [Have you been there before, or are you speaking metaphorically?] to southern Ireland, the home of my ancestors, was indeed like coming home again. As my daughter and I trekked through old cemeteries, gazed upon the rolling green fields and meandering sheep and listened to the lilting brogues of the courteous people, we were enchanted.
A particular highlight of our trip was the short drive to Blarney Castle where we visited the “Erin Shop,” [is this the actual name the shop, or does this mean her daughter spent so much money there they nicknamed it the Erin Shop?] wandered along paths through green countryside and over a river, and where Erin gamely hung upside down and (almost) kissed the Blarney Stone.
All too soon [how many days?] it was time to fly on to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we boarded Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun for our nine-day Baltic cruise. Never having been to any of the post-Soviet states, we were fascinated at what the following days would hold.
One of our first ports, Tallinn, Estonia, was quite a surprise – in more ways than one. This medieval walled city, with its “Fat Margaret Tower” built for defense, domed Alexander Nevsky cathedral and central courtyard, was a photographer’s dream. In fact, I became so focused on getting close-up shots of the golden tiled mosaic over the cathedral’s door that I literally became “Lost in Estonia.” After just “one more” shot of the mosaic, I sidled back to my tour group, only to realize that no one looked familiar. With countless tour groups from several cruise ships in port walking through the cobblestone streets, speaking a myriad of languages, it was easy to lose track. After wandering around a while, asking if anyone had seen group number four, I finally gave up and explored on my own, later returning to the ship by cab. [she should mention something about whether her daughter was worried or took it all in stride (or didn’t care)]
Tallinn was a lovely place, bathed in sunshine, with cheerful umbrellas over sidewalk cafes, flower stalls bursting with colorful blooms and art galleries and shops displaying dolls in native dress, handmade jewelry and knitted products. There is a sense of stepping back in time.
The next day, when we arrived in St. Petersburg, I was determined to stick like glue to my tour group. And as we passed through the dockside passport stations, the grim-faced Russian customs agents left no doubt that they were serious about enforcing the rules.
With only two days in St. Petersburg, we wanted to cover a lot of ground. That first day, we boarded a bus to see Catherine’s Palace (a summer residence of the czars, about 15 miles from St. Petersburg in Pushkin) and the Hermitage (an art and culture museum including the former Winter Palace, in St. Petersburg itself).
Catherine’s Palace, in particular, is beautiful — all blue and white, with more gilt trim than you can imagine and perfectly manicured grounds with statuary. It also contains a reconstruction of the famous amber room, which once held more than six tons of the golden fossil resin until it all went missing in World War II. The Hermitage is also impressive, with much gilt trim and what is billed as the largest collection of paintings in the world. The day we visited, however, the summer heat and crowds were oppressive, leaving us longing for the exit door.
We topped off the day with an evening at the ballet: a magical performance of Swan Lake by a local company.
Our second and final day in Russia was spent with our private guide, “Anastasia,” [why is that in quotes?] and driver, Andrei. They whisked us off to see three Russian Orthodox cathedrals, which, after years of Soviet influence, appear to have become more museums than churches. (In the course of our travels, we spotted signs of Western influence, including billboards for McDonald’s and Burger King.)
We arrived first at the Church on Spilled Blood with its colorful “onion” domes. This cathedral marks the spot where Czar Alexander II was killed [not just killed; assassinated. When was that? Or, when was the church built?], with an ornate metal canopy covering the location. Next was the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, with its family tomb for Czar Nicholas II and the Romanov family, including Anastasia. want to add anything about the family being executed by the Bolsheviks? or is that too much history? Our last stop was St. Isaac’s Cathedral with its large, golden dome and interior arches of gold, blue and green. Here, we witnessed a Russian Orthodox liturgy in progress in a chapel, with veiled women kissing an icon held by a priest.
Then it was back to our ship, setting sail for several more Scandinavian ports, and before we knew it, we were boarding the plane for Vienna, Austria.
In Austria, my favorite memory was made during our “Sound of Music” tour. After an almost three-hour train trip to Salzburg, we boarded a bright yellow van with six other tourists from England and the United States. Our personable young guide played the soundtrack from the movie as we drove through the outskirts of the city. He led us in singing “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” as we approached the renovated gazebo from the movie, and “I Have Confidence” as we neared the tree-lined lane where Maria skipped along with her guitar case. Nearby was the gorgeous lakeside home where Maria and the children toppled from their boats into the water. Then it was “Climb Every Mountain” as we drove through the breathtaking lakes country above Salzburg.
After the tour that day, my daughter and I walked back from old Salzburg to the newer part of town where we would catch our train back to Vienna, going on to enjoy still more adventures. We crossed the Makartsteg Bridge, noticing hundreds of padlocks that people had attached, symbolizing lasting love. We didn’t have a padlock that day. However, I know that the magical moments and laughter that this mother-daughter team shared on our travel marathon, and the love of the countryside we visited, will always remain with us.
Ireland's green fields along its coast.
The Hayfield Manor in Cork, Ireland. Chris and Erin used this as their home base while spending six days in the country.
Chris and Erin enjoyed their treks through crumbling cemetaries and bucolic fields.
Some of Ireland's wandering livestock.
The golden tiled mosaic over the Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Estonia - a picture that made Chris lose her tour group.
The market square in Tallinn.
Chris and Erin's cruise ship, the Norwegian Sun.
A flower stall in Tallinn.
The manicured grounds at Catherine's Palace.
A view inside Catherine's Palace.
The palace's golden domes.The colorful "onion" domes of the Church on Spilled Blood.
Local residents of Salzburg dress in traditional costumes for an afternoon program.A view from aboard the Norwegian Sun.
Chris and Erin across from the "Von Trapp" home in Salzburg.
The Salzburg gazebo, now renovated, that was used in the movie The Sound of Music.
Rev. Richard House's collection of over 300 Nativity sets from around the world. One massive Italian-made Nativity, that is actually a storytelling diorama, contains over 1,000 pieces to illustrate the story of Christ's birth. Photos by TJ Mullinax.
Though a Catholic priest, Richard House had no idea on earth why he suddenly fascinated by nativity sets. Now serving as pastor of St. John Church in Naches, House was on his so-called “post-cancer victory tour” of Europe following chemotherapy and radiation for nasal/pharyngeal cancer. During this vacation, nativity scenes — or crèche scenes — portraying the birth of Christ drew him like a magnet. As he wandered through shops and street markets from Berlin to Prague, it wasn’t statues or other religious items that captured his attention. Just nativity scenes.
“I bought about 20 on that 17-day trip,” House recalled. “It all began in a holiday market in Berlin, with hundreds of merchant stalls. I saw a little nativity. It’s about as small as they can come – a retablo (or small devotional scene) of the Holy Family inside a matchbox. It has doors that open. The whole thing is about 1-1/2 inches by 2 inches, made in Peru, with plaster of Paris figures.
‘Wow, that’s cool,’ I thought, and I bought it.”
It was the first purchase in what would grow to be a collection of some 300 nativity sets of all shapes and sizes, from many countries the world, made of materials ranging from wood to metal to plastic. Some are placed in traditional stables, some in tiny caves, others are brightly painted scenes on wood or leather. It wasn’t until House was about 200 sets into the collection, with thousands of dollars spent, that he had an epiphany.
“In 2003, I was serving as a Navy chaplain, stationed at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego,” recalled House, now 58, as he for the ever-present water bottle he carrie since his radiation treatments. “The base psychologists there were working with the chaplains as we prepared to counsel those who would be returning from the war in Iraq. One of the psychologists who knew that I had recovered from cancer was talking to me and asked, ‘Do you have any hobbies?’ I said, ‘No.’ Then she asked, ‘Do you collect anything?’ I said, ‘Nativities.’”
“’Oh my goodness,’ she said. ‘Isn’t this amazing? As you’re celebrating your own rebirth, surviving cancer, you’re celebrating the birth of the Lord.’”
House was stunned as he realized the psychologist was right. “Couldn’t you have told me this a few thousand dollars ago?” he joked.
Nonetheless, the nativity collection kept growing, as House continued to travel to countries including Italy – where the first crèche was reportedly created in 1223 by St. Francis of Assisi. The story goes that St. Francis was in the small town of Grecio at Christmastime. Realizing that the monastery chapel there was too small to accommodate midnight Mass, St. Francis set up for an outdoor Mass, preparing a manger with hay and animals to draw the interest of the local people. House now has at least a dozen nativity sets made in Italy.
“When I’m visiting somewhere, I like to go to stores – whether it’s a hardware store or a grocery store,” he said. “I like to see how people live.”
And the nativity sets he’s bought reflect much of that local flavor, sometimes including a variety of other figures in addition to the traditional Holy Family, shepherds and Wise Men.
“One set that I bought in Prague has figures made of pewter,” he said. “There is a guy with a barrel in a backpack. There is a dancing bear. Someone with a hayfork. There are about 12 figures in all in a pewter frame.”
In Tijuana, Mexico, he bought a tiny nativity set with a stable – only about 1-1/2 inches tall – and figures all made from woven palm leaves.
This past summer, while visiting Amsterdam, he found an Ethiopian nativity scene painted on leather and in Stockholm, a metal scene that resembles a Christmas “angel chimes” with figures of Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men that spin around a lighted candle.
His most intricate set, one of those made in Italy, has more than 1,000 pieces.
“It’s a village where life is going on,” he observed. “There’s a restaurant, a well, a poultry shop, an innkeeper. There are a couple dozen angels suspended from paper clips. You can see the nativity story unfold, with Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem, then in the stable where Jesus was born, then their flight to Egypt when Jesus was a small child. I think I have more people in this set than they would have had in Bethlehem at the time!”
House claims that he’s “slowed down a bit” in buying nativities. On his recent trip to Europe, he only bought three sets.
“I have a hobby now,” he joked. “I can walk away!”
House has displayed his full collection just three times – twice in Ephrata when he was pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church there, and once this past July at St. Paul Cathedral School in Yakima. (In between times, he keeps them locked away in a secure spot outside of Naches.) During these public displays, the collection seems to strike a deep chord within others, as well.
“I have one set in which you turn a handle and all of the wooden figures bow down to Jesus,” he said. “Whether people are 8 or 80, this really sparks something in them. When I hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ it just makes my day.”
House is very low-key about both his collection and life after cancer.
“I don’t ascribe that I’m anything special,” he said. “I don’t hear angels singing or trumpets blaring, but my perspective has changed. I have lived through pain I didn’t think I could bear and now, as a priest, I can pray with people in a way I couldn’t before … I think that there’s more that God wants me to do. I’m grateful for the additional time and grace that I have. Hopefully I can share my gifts and skills with those who God puts in my path.”
Rev. House's nativities are made of everything from wood to metal to plastic.
Rev. House talks about his collection with his ever-present water bottle at his side.This nickel shows the size of some of House's smallest nativities.
Stefan Apperson, secretary for local Vintiques car club, gets behind the wheel of his vintage Chevrolet. Photos by Chad Bremerman.
It’s a teenager’s dream come true: music blaring under summer skies, fast food and cruising in a hot car you can actually afford.
Members of Yakima’s Vintiques car club are living the dream – even if their teenage years cruised by several decades ago.
“When you get inside (a vintage car) and drive, it takes you back in time,” said Yakima’s Stefan Apperson, as he stood beside his 1963 Chevy Nova at a recent car show at McDonalds on 40th Avenue. Behind Apperson, who is the secretary for the local Vintiques club, a band blasted out “Born To Be Wild,” as car owners and spectators walked among dozens of vintage cars.
“It kind of takes me back to the teenage (years) that I would have liked to have had but couldn’t afford,” agreed Dennis Pierce of Union Gap, who showed off his metallic purple 1927 Ford roadster pickup.
With 83 members (and “associates” who often are spouses), Vintiques shifts into high gear during the summer. There are cruise nights and car shows throughout the Northwest, culminating in the Vintiques Northwest Nationals – or “Rod Run” – at State Fair Park in August. Although members, who have an average age of early to mid-50s, are not required to own a classic car, those who participate in car shows and other events have pre-1973 vehicles.
“Some people like to go to baseball games. I just love building stuff with my hands,” said Gleed’s Paul Michael. Michael is president of the local club, and his cars include a 1937 Chevy Master Deluxe sedan and a 1968 Chevelle convertible. Michael noted that most club members have several characteristics in common: they’ve always loved cars, they have some mechanical ability and “like to tinker,” they enjoy associating with others who have the same interest and they have a shop or garage of their own — or at a friend’s — where they can work on their hobby.
Michael said Vintiques cars fall into three basic categories: “street rods,” which date to pre-1949 “customs,” which were built from 1949 to the early 1960s and “muscle” cars that were made after 1961.
It can be an expensive hobby.
Ralph and Judy Mizell of Yakima have invested $50,000 in their 1947 Chevy pickup, named “Back in Black It’s not named after the AC/DC song — rather the black “tear-away” pattern on the back of the truck that contrasts with the bright yellow cab.The pickup has everything from a built-in garage door opener to a map light, air conditioning and four-speed automatic transmission.
“I like it when it looks old but runs like a new one,” explained Ralph.
Even the high-quality paint with metallic in it, ideal for restoring vintage cars, can cost a whopping $925 per gallon, said Selah’s Dick Elliott, standing next to his bright orange 1954 Ford F100 pickup. Then, there is the matter of finding all of the needed parts, and perhaps hundreds of hours of restoration.
The labor of love that goes into these cars is “amazing,” said Judy Mizell. Owners sometimes must even fabricate a part when they can’t find exactly what they need.
However, it’s all worth it, said Elliott.
“You create something that’s different from everybody else and you’re proud of it,” he said.
For those who have less money to spend, but are willing to invest the time, it’s possible to find junk parts and come up with a beautiful car, or even just put a decent motor into an old car and develop a “rat rod” that costs much less, members say.
Going to car shows, swap meets and “garage crawls” in which car enthusiasts meet with others sharing the same interest is a great method of “cross-pollination” as Apperson calls it.
“You meet people from all over the place and you can exchange information on how to do things, where to find parts and which shops do the best work,” Ralph Mizell explained.
“It’s the people,” agreed Ken Coleman of Terrace Heights, from the driver’s seat of his 1937 turquoise Chevy sedan. “It’s a family thing. Our kids were raised in this and now our grandkids.”
Coleman’s wife, Sandi, says that she “kind of married into the cars” when she married Ken. Their vintage Chevy has played a key role in important family events, being used for the weddings of both their son and daughter, she said.
Some of Apperson’s earliest memories are of helping his grandfather, who was a car mechanic.
“He was very patient,” recalled Apperson. “My big goal was to own a wrecking yard some day.”
Apperson, whose career goal took a turn, teaches nformation echnology at Yakima Valley Community College but is passing along his love of cars to his 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.
Still, why all the fuss over vintage cars when you could buy a new one right off the lot?
“These are more fun,” said Terrace Heights Nancy Baisinger, who serves as the club’s website editor and membership and memorabilia chair. She and her husband, Steve, have been club members for 24 years.
“The friendships you make, the camaraderie, the memories – you don’t have that with new cars It takes me back to my teenage years when we used to ‘putt the boulevard’ (the Van Nuys Boulevard in California),” she said.
About a third of current Vintiques members are women and many of the male members’ wives pitch in and help with the restoration projects.
Shirley Fairbanks of Selah, who served as the first woman president of Vintiques, said she’s come a long way from the days when she used to hang over her dad’s shoulder as he worked on cars.
“When I was about years old, I remember he sent me to the garage one day to
find a can of ‘elbow grease’” After two trips, she finally burst into tears when she couldn’t find it.
As an adult, she takes pride in having rebuilt the engine of her 1959 Chevy pickup she’s named “Oliver,” with a mechanic standing nearby, and helping to rebuild the engine of her 1969 Volkswagen Beetle convertible named “Squirl.”
“There are women who enjoy cars and who are willing to venture in,” observed Linda Sumner of Yakima who, with her husband, Dale, owns a 1934 Dodge pickup, and has been a member of Vintiques since 1979. “Hopefully, there’ll be more as time goes on. We’d also love to have more younger members.”
Meanwhile, Vintiques members are driving the dream, full throttle.
“Your car was your life back then,” recalls Ralph Mizell. “Everybody’s got a memory about a car sometime in their life. It makes me young again.”
However, that can all come to a screeching halt, members say, when the weather’s bad – especially in winter with slush and anti-ice products on the roads – or any time it’s raining. Then, Vintiques members often revert to the practicality of adulthood, keeping their cars in the garage.
Said Apperson, “Superman has kryptonite. Old cars have rain and rust.”
Vintiques Northwest Nationals Features Summer Fun for Everyone
More than 700 vintage cars are expected to turn out for the 38th annual Vintiques Northwest Nationals event, Aug 2-5 at State Fair Park, said Brian Maybee, event director.
Gates open to the public from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday, Aug 3 and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday, Aug 4. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children, seniors and military each day. (The other days of the event will be primarily for vintage car owners.)
Highlights of the Northwest Nationals — or “Rod Run” as it’s often called — will include vendor displays, a swap meet, poker walk and a sock hop with a DJ on Friday. The Saturday program includes vendor displays, the music of “Manic Mechanics,” a barbecue and pictures with special guest, “Tow-Mater,” a recreation of the “Cars” movie character. There will also be hundreds of cars and kids games.
For more details, a complete schedule of events, or a car registration form, call 509-480-9944 or visit vintiques.com.
Judy and Ralph Mizell stand next to their truck, "back in black."
A recent car show at the 40th Avenue McDonalds in Yakima.
Dennis Pierce's shiny purple Ford.
The purple Ford's engine.
An apple red Chevrolet.
An interior shot of a vintique.