Fun, fond memories remain from Adamick's Famous Museum

It was place to be 45 years ago


For the Mirror

At Pacific Highway South and South 348th Street, I stare at the concrete parking lot where now stands the Broadway Flying J truck stop. Adamick’s Famous Museum has been gone nearly 45 years, but the vibrancy, laughter and camaraderie are clear in my mind. I can hear Annis Adamick’s voice booming through the tavern and smell Adam’s stew bubbling on the wood stove.

On an unusually balmy February evening in 1960, my friends and I stood in line for 20 minutes, waiting for the tavern to open. The clapboard building looked quite plain from the outside, but the expectant crowd, queued up around the corner, was entering the museum.

Adam knew Polish geography well and had followed the actions during World War II. During those years, a large map hung on a wall in the tavern, and he traced the progress of different divisions with colored pins. To the patrons, he would explain advances and retreats and he seemed to know the latest about the war before anyone else did.

At the time, many of the customers, graduates from Federal Way High School, were home on furlough. The tavern served as a network to find out about friends who had come back and those who had died or been wounded. Annis and Adam, who never forgot a name or face, mourned and reminisced with the people they regarded as family.

Amid the laughter and camaraderie in the tavern, Adamick’s had been a place of comfort and support for the many who had lost loved ones.

“Adamick’s Famous Museum” closed in the early ‘60s. During the 23 years that the tavern did business, the Adamicks created a gathering place for the Federal Way community. They donated generously to various national charities and many local causes.

The couple, elderly and no longer in robust health, moved back to their beach house near the ocean. They walked away from the building, the museum, the artifacts — treasures mixed with worthless stuff. Adam died first, Annis soon after.

The developer who bought the property held an auction, then razed the building and bulldozed it into a large hole in the ground. He poured concrete over the wreckage and whatever was left — harpoons, stuffed moose and deer heads, statuary, paintings.

And buried with the artifacts lies a time when an eccentric, good-hearted couple commanded respect from a young crowd who came for the fun and to bask in an aura of safety and comfort. For many of the regular clients, this place represented family. I am happy that I experienced this spot of regional history, if only for one evening.

I stare at the parking lot where the building once stood, contemplating the concoction of memories. All those Inuit artifacts, irretrievably gone. With a little foresight, they could have been donated to a real museum. Yet, there’s something poignant and appropriate about this graveyard. What, after all, made the grease-stained, smoke-clouded painting valuable? Because Charles Russell had painted it, or because for all those years, from its perch high in a smoky room, it reigned over that wonderful, crazy place?

Somehow, all those treasures belong together — broken, amalgamated with soil, covered with asphalt. They echo the memory of a lively, fun-filled haven in the midst of a troubled time — the burial ground of “Adamick’s Famous Museum,” Adam’s ultimate stew.

Annemarieke Tazelaar lives in Seattle.

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