By Tim Marsh, Lakes High Class of 1966
Do I have South Tacoma Way memories? Yes, three.
- Steve’s Gay 90s. You know this restaurant. It even had can-can dancers, although I never remember seeing them while my folks, sister and I ate smorgasbord there. During my student days at Park Lodge School we had a substitute teacher. We learned she taught and also danced the can-can at Steve’s. That brought the class — at least those who knew can-can dancing — to a buzz. Then student Doug — I know his last name, but protect him by not including it here — started singing “Glory, glory hallelujah, teacher hit me with a ruler. I hit her on the bean with a rotten tangerine and the kids go marching on…” Our teacher/dancer had trouble controlling the class from that point.
- My student driver’s training during Clover Park School District Summer School. On each of our routes, we drove from and to Clover Park High. One had us driving on South Tacoma Way in an Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-4-2 with stick shift on the floor. I was not comfortable shifting through the gears. But, I soon realized by maintaining the posted speed while driving I had all green lights on the South Tacoma Way traffic signals. Presto! Didn’t have to shift much.
- Autohaus VW. A friend and I visited its used car lot. Neither of us had an intention of buying a used VW bug/beetle with the old lower bumpers. I told my friend, “watch this.” A salesman asked if he could be of assistance. Yes, I want to see the engine of that VW, pointing to it. Lower VW bumpers had often been bent by a fender bender or backing into something. Thus, the engine lid would not open or partially open because the bent bumper did not give enough clearance. The salesman tried to open the lid, but it would not open. So, he stood on the bumper and jumped up and down. That created a gap and the lid opened. He assured me this would be fixed if I bought the car.
Honorable Mention #1 –Tacoma Roller Bowl. I skated here with Little Church on the Prairie youth groups. A highlight was wearing roller skates and dancing the Hokey Pokey to loud recorded music. Being presented a cardboard Coca Cola card to turn into the roller rink snack bar and get a free Coke was a reward for good Hokey Pokeying.
Honorable Mention #2 — B&I Circus store. So much has been written about this one-of-a-kind store that I’ll let you remember what interested you about it. If you didn’t visit the store in its glory years, Internet searching will fill you in.
Honorable Mention #3 — Russ Dunmire Olds. Oh that catchy advertising jingle.
Who can forget it? When we moved to Lakewood, it was in a 1950 four-door black Chevrolet sedan with no radio, no turn signal, but with fender skirts. Then, we started stepping up to Oldsmobiles. Dad especially appreciated the work of one of the Dunmire mechanics. So, he always had this mechanic work on our car.
Honorable Mention #4 — Star-Lite drive-in movie theater. It opened in 1948 and bit the dust as a flea market in 2019. As with other entities on South Tacoma Way, for many years it was in Tacoma, before Lakewood city limits included it. In grade school I went with friends – a couple and their young son – to the Star Lite. We didn’t get many minutes into the first feature when son threw up in the back of their station wagon. That was cleaned up by his folks and we left for home while the movie flickered on.
Honorable Mention #5 — Putt Putt miniature golf. A friend and I played here on weekends. This was during some of Putt Putt’s glory years when the Putt-Putt Golf Courses Championship series was on TV, most likely seen on Tacoma’s KTVW, Channel 13.
Honorable Mention #6 — In 1955 Lakewood was without a public library for a while.
To keep in the books, our family went to a Tacoma public library branch in a house just off South Tacoma Way. While the library/house was not on South Tacoma Way, I make the rules and it gets mentioned.