Shady Acres celebrates golden anniversary

SPANAWAY, Wash. — Shady Acres, a residential airpark, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a potluck party at the home of Rick and Bobbie Wicklander on Sept. 1. Current and former residents showed up, about 50 in all, for the celebration. Pictures and newspaper clippings were laid out for all to peruse.

Shady Acres was created by Jack Brown, founder of The Northwest Flyer (predecessor of today’s General Aviation News) and Harold LeMay, a garbage collection magnate whose car collection has turned into America’s Car Museum.

From a Times Journal story in 1962, “The idea for the residential airport, which is not a commercial landing strip, was hatched early this year.” It wasn’t long after the airpark was dedicated that its first transient visitor stopped in. A family heading home to California from the Seattle World’s Fair stopped to wait out a passing rain squall while the official dedication ceremony was still under way.

Thirty-five shares were originally created to surround the 1,800-foot long by 20-foot wide strip. I was lucky enough to grow up at Shady Acres. Mom and Dad (Mary Lou and Dave Sclair) bought a lot on the airpark in 1970, built a hangar, moved a double-wide mobile home onto the lot and called it home…for the next 23 years.

Growing up on Shady Acres was ideal. It was rural (at least back then) with lots of open space surrounding the airpark. In addition to fellow aviators, a handful of kids my age also lived on the airpark. Richie and Ronnie Wicklander, Alan Brady, and Eric LeMay were all friends. We rode motorcycles together, played soccer and football, and walked to the school bus (which picked us up at the approach end of runway 34) together.

I was 10 or 12 before I realized not everyone had a hangar attached to their home with a runway in their back yard.

As I chat with Bobbie Wicklander, a visiting Cessna 170 took off. After it passed, I mentioned to Bobbie, “that sure sounds nice.” She nodded in agreement, but said, “we don’t have a lot of flying activity. At least not like in the old days.” That’s alright though. Everything in life cycles, and activity will return, someday.

As Mom and I, along with my wife Deb and kids drove home, we couldn’t help reminisce. When Mom asked Deb what she thought of Shady Acres, she said, “What a perfect way to grow up.” Mom and I nodded in agreement. It was.

While Shady Acres was special to us, the original developers crafted an image of nothing out of the ordinary. Jack Brown was quoted in The Times Journal saying Shady Acres was, “just the main street of a flying community.” One I hope will celebrate its 100th anniversary in a short 50 years.

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