Following a Jan. 26 fundraiser dinner at Jim and Anne DeMartini’s classic car garage, the next CASA fundraiser is Our Light of Hope on May 1 at Brawley’s Del Rio Country Club, where the DeMartinis will be honored for their longtime support of the program. Other honorees include Judge Nan Cohan Jacobs, child welfare advocate Sheelah Grant and a yet-to-be-determined social worker. For information: Steve Ashman, firstname.lastname@example.org or 548-6320; or www.casaofstanco.org.
MODESTO — A new garage that Anne DeMartini and Supervisor Jim DeMartini use to store a fleet of 18 antique vehicles served a double purpose as a fundraising hotspot this past weekend.
The 150-foot long, 60-foot-wide structure, which was completed this summer after construction began in March, was host to a fundraising dinner for the Court Appointed Special Advocate Association on Saturday, Jan. 26. The garage stands next to the DeMartinis’ Jennings Road home, which is in a rural Modesto area between Patterson and Ceres.
Jim DeMartini hopes to host future fundraising events in the building, which includes a kitchen and office with décor from the early 1900s, as well as a 1950s-style diner.
He described the old structure — 48 feet wide and 80 feet long — as “cramped,” noting that it could fit only 10 automobiles. That meant the DeMartinis’ collection, which includes several rare vehicles built between 1909 and 2008, had to be split between the old garage and other locations. The former building also lacked bathrooms, Jim DeMartini said.
“I built this last year because I outgrew the other one,” Jim DeMartini said earlier this month.
Décor in the building includes a mixture of purchases from antique shops, auctions, and family heirlooms. Prominent features in the diner are a fully functional telephone booth, an “Eye of the Tiger” arcade pinball game from the late 1970s and a cigarette vending machine that dispenses an entire pack for 35 cents.
The view from the diner is of the rest of the garage — plain except for the remarkable lineup of cars, the oldest of which is a stunning 1909 Locomobile. Among the most noticeable aspects of that car are the carbide lamps used for headlights, which require the lighting of acetylene gas with a match.
Other cars in the lineup include a 1929 Franklin, the second oldest vehicle in the DeMartinis’ collection, and a ’58 Edsel Citation, famed as the only car made with a push-button ignition in the middle of the steering wheel, where it was commonly mistaken for the horn.
The garage also holds an orange ’69 Pontiac GTO known as “The Judge” and a Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird manufactured only in 1970. The Superbird featured a decal of the iconic Looney Tunes Roadrunner on the side.
“My favorite (vehicle) is always the last one I acquired, and the last one I got was The Judge,” Jim DeMartini said.
Also notable is a vehicle made by the San Francisco-based DeMartini Truck Co., whose owners are not related to the supervisor, though they bear the same last name.
Cars from the DeMartinis’ collection are included in the American Graffiti Festival in Modesto every year, and were also available during the CASA fundraising event in the ’50s diner on Saturday, Jan. 26.
CASA consists of 946 programs nationally dedicated to having volunteers guide abused and neglected children through legal and social services. Steve Ashman is the executive director of the Stanislaus chapter.
“Jim and Anne have been longtime supporters of our program and have generously offered up their home to try and raise some money for us,” Ashman said earlier this month. “I believe that it may become an annual event. They’re interested in doing something for us on a continuous basis.”
Turnout for the fundraiser was high, with about 80 people enjoying polenta, shrimp, barbecue sliders and other dishes available in the diner. Wine was also served.
“The dinner went incredibly well,” Ashman said. “It was pretty informal. There were lots of movers and shakers; it was pretty fun. Jim had fun showing off his cars and collections. As an agency, we can never thank Jim and Anne enough. They are enthusiastic about doing it again next year.”
Ashman said he could not decide which of the DeMartinis’ vehicles he liked best.
“It’s like choosing among your children; each one was unique and totally cool,” he said.
Mary Mason is an editorial intern for the Patterson Irrigator and can be reached at email@example.com.