By Julie Muhlstein, Herald columnist
Mount Pilchuck to the Boeing factory, Comcast Arena to the Tulalip Resort Casino, Snohomish County has its landmarks. One familiar spot is about to change.
It’s that window. Drivers on Everett’s Evergreen Way can’t miss it.
“The original thought was, this was the home of the classics,” said Clyde Revord, president of Clyde Revord Motors. “We started with old movie classics.”
In 25 years, there have been plenty of those. Hollywood legends painted on the GM dealership’s window over the years include Bob Hope, John Wayne, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood and, most recently, Lucille Ball.
This week, passersby may have seen that Lucy’s picture — with the catchy “Have a Ball in your new Regal” — has been washed away. Another display is being painted on the window. It’s the last one.
“After all these years, GM is making us remodel the building. I’m doing a farewell window,” said Steve Sittauer, general manager and part owner of the dealership at 7900 Evergreen Way.
Mark Revord, another owner and the son of Clyde Revord, said Tuesday that General Motors wants a standard look at its dealerships, “one that represents the brands.”
The 1960s-era showroom will keep its dome shape, but will be updated with a large entryway displaying “Buick” and “GMC.” Curved on top, the wide portal will match GM dealerships all over the country.
Window painter Bill Bailey, of Bellevue, is at work this week on the final display. It will show about a dozen faces that previously graced the window.
With the new facade, Sittauer said, “I’m going to lose the top half in a month or so. The bottom half will stay about three months.”
“It’s a tribute to all the windows,” said Bailey, 67, an artist who also paints Western wildlife scenes.
Sittauer is sorry he doesn’t have photos of every window, but many were photographed and framed. The collection hangs in a hallway at the dealership.
One, a painting of Princess Diana, includes an unfortunate postscript. In 1992, five years before Diana’s death in a car crash, the window said “You’ll simply ‘Di’ over your new Roadmaster.” A note on the framed picture says the painting was done “prior to Diana’s passing.”
A business called the Window Lady did the early paintings. Most were created by Jim Noonan, who is no longer a sign painter.
Movie-star faces weren’t the only personalities on the showroom window.
Music legends Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong were painted, larger than life. Bill Cosby, Don Knotts and other faces from TV took turns on the window. There were cartoons — the Dr. Seuss Grinch and those sporty rides from the Disney movie “Cars.” Paintings of sports figures, including Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods and Apolo Ohno, spent time on the window.
Sometimes, a glance at the big window has been enough to break hearts. After their deaths, comic actor John Candy, race driver Dale Earnhardt, and football player and soldier Pat Tillman were pictured.
In dark days after the 9/11 attacks, the iconic image of three firefighters raising an American flag was painted, with the words “United We Stand, God Bless America.”
The cost for one window painting had risen from $1,000 to “$2,500 a head,” Sittauer said.
“I could have made a fortune advertising for people,” said Sittauer, who had calls asking to use the window for marriage proposals and other messages. Those requests were never granted.
After the 1994 suicide of Kurt Cobain, lead singer of Nirvana, Sittauer said a woman called Clyde Revord, now 76, urging him to put Cobain’s picture on the window — “and Clyde said, ‘I don’t know who Kurt Cobain is.’ “
In 1997, this column told of a controversy that resulted in a window touch-up. The window had a scene from the movie “A Christmas Story.” The original painting showed the character Ralphie holding his prize Christmas gift, a BB gun. Some who saw it called the dealership alarmed by the picture of a bespectacled boy with his Red Ryder 200-shot.
With his paints, Noonan took the gun out of the kid’s hands. He replaced it with Christmas ornaments and holly. “I don’t pick ‘em, I just paint ‘em,” Noonan said at the time.
Clyde Revord, who has had the business since 1979, said his favorite window was from the movie “Driving Miss Daisy.” For Sittauer, it was “J.P. Patches,” the clown portrayed by local television entertainer Chris Wedes. The day Wedes came to the dealership as J.P., Sittauer said, a line to meet him stretched around the building.
Rick Miller, who worked at Clyde Revord Motors for 25 years, is now a salesman at Roy Robinson Chevrolet and Subaru in Marysville. Pictures on the Clyde Revord window share space with words. Miller said he wrote about 95 percent of them.
He remembers a few favorites: For Andy Williams, he wrote “You’ll smile wider than a mile!” With a Christopher Reeve painting, it was “Get your good deal from the classic Man of Steel.”
Although he works at another dealership, Miller was happy to be the writer for the final window.
His nostalgic message on the roadside landmark? “Our glass might be gone, but our class will live on.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, firstname.lastname@example.org.