As far as we know, a pope has never left the Holy See for a road trip to the 253. But bless our soul, an important piece of papal history is paying an extended visit to T-Town right now.
His car. Or rather, one in a long line of popemobiles that dates to 1930 – back in the good ol’ days when pontiffs didn’t retire but their cars did.
The 1964 Lincoln custom-stretch limousine, aka the “Papal Continental,” is on display for at least three months at LeMay, America’s Car Museum.
It’s a godsend for the bright, shiny auto showplace that opened last summer next door to the Tacoma Dome.
A LeMay spokesman calls the car an “astounding piece of Americana.” Not only did it haul a pope around New York City, it was later used to parade Neil Armstrong and other astronauts around Chicago.
Nothing else in the LeMay collection can boast passengers of such lofty stature, save perhaps David Hasselhoff’s Trans Am from “Knight Rider” – and that’s just a replica.
How does one recognize a popemobile? Is it adorned with “Honk if you love Jesus!” or “My boss is a Jewish carpenter” bumper stickers? When it’s time for a new car, does it start blowing white smoke from the tailpipe?
Nah. This one is fairly nondescript compared to the series of fully glass-enclosed pope-quariums developed after John Paul II was shot in 1981. Benedict XVI took his last spin in one of these papal Habitrails on Wednesday.
The holy rollin’ limo on display at LeMay is on loan from a foundation in Bellevue. The Vatican originally ordered it for Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Big Apple in 1965. It was tricked out with bulletproof shell, plus a handcrank to lift the back seat so His Eminence could keep watch on his flock.
Here’s an idea: Let the car lead the Daffodil Parade in April. We don’t have a pope to put inside, but it shouldn’t take a conclave to find the Tacoma equivalent.
Our list of finalists: Stan Naccarato, Joe Stortini and John Ladenburg.
In the beginning, God made cars: The museum has no plans for a comprehensive display of popemobiles, a LeMay spokesman tells Le Schnoz.
That’s OK. They should aim higher.
Imagine the international headlines if they were to land the first-ever exhibit of “Cars from the Bible,” including:
- The Dodge pickup from the Book of Exodus: “Only when the Ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”
- The Pontiac and the Geo described in Psalm 83: “So pursue them with your Tempest and terrify them with your Storm.”
- The Honda shared by Jesus’ disciples, as recorded in Acts 2:1: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one Accord.”
Look on the bright side: Sure, it’s unfortunate that a Canadian barge dropped a few scrapped cars in Commencement Bay last weekend. But at least it wasn’t here to offload a new exhibit at LeMay.
Downton shabby: The Crawleys would never step inside a Walmart, and we don’t expect the new central Tacoma superstore on the demolished Elks Lodge site to resemble Downton Abbey. But must the back side have all the architectural allure of a prison?
Cedar Street passers-by are exposed to a large retaining wall butting up to the store’s barren rear end.
Violet Crawley, the dowager countess of Grantham, would surely give a haughty sniff. Pray tell, she asks, did building designers and city planners consider including any landscaping?
Maybe he’ll clone himself: Don’t know how else U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor had hoped to do two things at once, 2,800 miles apart.
On one hand, he’s shocked – shocked, we tell you! – that Congress won’t meet today to avert the latest fiscal disaster. “I’ve called on Speaker Boehner to keep the House in session,” Kilmer declared in a statement Thursday.
On the other hand, he’s been planning since at least midweek to shake hands with workers outside Puget Sound Naval Shipyard this morning.
Memo to Congressman K: Stay at the Capitol until you and all your pol pals get ’er done.
And bring your hand-shaking clone back there with you.