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Updated Saturday, November 24, 2012 at 05:31 PM

Eddie Vedder's firetruck, a gift from Sean Penn, at state museum

By Jennifer Pignolet
The Spokesman-Review

Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder once wrote a song titled "Go" about his pickup. Maybe he can tweak it a bit for his firetruck.

A gift from actor Sean Penn to his longtime friend Vedder, the fully-restored 1927 American La France firetruck is now a fixture at the Ferry County Auto and Truck Museum, about 100 miles northwest of Spokane.

Bob Whittaker, a Ferry County resident and a manager in the music business, said he has known Vedder for upward of 20 years and encouraged him to lend the firetruck to the museum.

"He was struggling with where to store it, and I suggested the Ferry County Car and Truck Museum," Whittaker said. "It was too good of an item to be mothballed or hidden away in some storage facility or garage somewhere."

Vedder, who is in the middle of a nationwide solo tour, agreed and paid for the truck to be shipped to the museum earlier this month.

Museum President Larry Lembcke said the truck is now the oldest of the museum's three firetrucks.

"We can use it in parades and stuff like that," Lembcke said. "It's completely restored."

The museum, which is only open weekends in the summer and in winter by appointment, features about 120 vehicles and other antiques. Located off Highway 21 about 17 miles north of Republic, Lembcke said the museum is free to visitors but is struggling to keep it that way.

He said donations pay for the biggest expense, the upkeep of the facility. All the staff members are volunteers.

Lembcke said they are hoping Vedder's truck will bring some new visitors and donations to the museum.

This isn't the first time Vedder has used his rock stardom to help his friend's small Washington town.

Whittaker, who serves as president of a county organization to build recreational trails, said Vedder donated a signed ukulele, which the group auctioned off for a fundraiser. The instrument sold for $17,000 on eBay.

"He's really supporting trying to help out little underdog Ferry County up here and get us some tourism," Whittaker said.


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