PASCO — No Gypsy blood runs through her veins, but that didn't stop Effie Schwartze from buying an antique Gypsy wagon and shipping it across the country to Pasco.
"Oh, this is going to be an adventure," she said, grinning. "I know where I'm going to spend my day."
The 1930 wagon arrived on a flatbed truck at the Schwartze home off 10th Avenue just before 11 a.m. Monday.
Getting it off the flatbed was a complicated maneuver involving a semi-truck, four Pasco Towing employees and two flatbed tow trucks. Loppers and a ladder also were used as the wagon was eased between and under two trees.
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"Oh, I can't look," Schwartze gasped as a tree branch snapped and fell.
Almost two hours later, the wagon was safely in just the right spot in the front yard, and she scrambled up the steep steps and stood inside for the first time.
Schwartze can't really explain why she bought it.
"It called to me," she said.
Schwartze regularly surfs the web looking for antiques and decorating ideas just to satisfy her curiosity. She ran across a site with Gypsy wagons -- also called caravans, vardos and bowtops -- and began researching them.
She discovered they're popular in Europe but less common here. The one she bought was the only one she could find for sale in the U.S.
She bought it based only on the photos about three months ago. Purely by chance, she said, her brother-in-law, Kent Schwartze, was working in Oklahoma City and was able to look at it before it was shipped.
Schwartze enjoys restoring and hand painting antique metal ceiling fixtures and lamps.
"It may become the place I display them," she said, adding that the wagon will be a sort of garden house, a place to read, sip tea and visit with friends.
In the meantime, it will be her largest and most ambitious restoration job.
The two-room wagon was used by a family of Gypsies in The Netherlands before Jamie Spencer of Oklahoma City bought it the '80s and had it shipped to the U.S.
Older models of the wagons were horse drawn but newer ones, such as Schwartze's, were built to be pulled by a vehicle. The original owners of her wagon pulled it with their Mercedes.
"They must have been well off Gypsies," Schwartze joked.
The wagon is 24-feet long and 8-feet wide. It has a sitting room with a marble fireplace and a small sleeping area. There's no bathroom, no kitchen, no water and no electricity. The only light comes from the windows or an oil lamp, all original.
The Spencers replaced the roof and floor, but many of the interior and exterior fittings, the French lace curtains and the etched mirror and French doors, front and back, are original.
The wagon has a wood frame -- some of it a little worse for wear because of age, weathering and rot -- with a metal exterior shell in surprisingly good shape with little rust.
"I have my work cut out for me," she said. "It's going to need a paint job."
Her husband, Dan, has no problem with her unusual choice of yard art.
"She's the antiques buff, I'm the support guy," he said. "She's always made the right choice with antiques. I trust her instincts. She does the right things and is an extremely talented restorer."
Effie declined to say exactly what she paid but said it was in the $10,000 ballpark. Plus it cost several thousand to have it hauled to the Tri-Cities.
Within minutes of its arrival, the Gypsy wagon began attracting attention. Most asked truck driver Rich Schubert of Brownsville, Wis., the same question -- "What is it?"
The Schwartzes are going to be answering that question for years.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; firstname.lastname@example.org.