It has been over a month since Eric White passed away and in that time, we have had some time to reflect on the impact that he had and continues to have on the Pontiac hobby. For the May issue, we put together a tribute to him to call attention to the work that he did and to give him the best sendoff we knew how.
There is always the thought of immortalizing those who have left us in some way, both as a marker to their place in history and also to provide some degree of comfort to those left behind. With Eric’s body of work, in the form of his artwork, photography, and The GTO Association of America Pontiac GTO/GT-37 Identification Guide, his place in history is assured and very significant. This magazine and the Pontiac hobby would not be the same without Eric’s contributions and for that reason, he will always be on our masthead.
To my mind, there is also the responsibility to continue his work in the area of the preservation of automotive history. My own personal situation has given me a unique opportunity to help continue his work in an interesting way.
Ever since I was a child, I collected car magazines. From the time I was nine years old, I put down comic books and moved into a world that was much more exciting than anything DC Comics or Marvel could provide to me. I was lured in by such titles as Hot Rod, Car Craft, Popular Hot Rodding and High Performance Cars, the lone East Coast title I read back then. I was hooked. I started mowing lawns to earn enough money to buy them on my own. Every once in a while, my mom and dad would treat me to a magazine on our trips to the grocery store but for the most part, I bought them on my own.
The lure of the world of car magazines inspired me to pursue a career in the field. As a result, I went to St. John Fisher College in Rochester, about a mile from where I live now and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Communication/Journalism. It is hard to believe that it has been 30 years since I donned my cap and gown and crossed the stage.
The truth was that by the time I went to college, I already learned how to write based on the writing styles of the late greats Roger Huntington and Tom Senter, two writers who without their knowledge, helped me find my own voice and later, my advocation. I ended up talking to Mr. Huntington on the phone once and told him what a great influence he was and also passed that message on to Mr. Senter’s widow about ten years ago.
Forty plus years after being blown away by the August, 1975 issue of Car Craft, my obsession has turned into a career and it also turned into a pretty huge collection of magazines, sales literature, press kits and books. I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent over the years, I am confident that I could have purchased a GTO Judge at current market price for the amount of cash I spent. A few bucks here, a few more there, a few more about 10,000 times and it adds up. I don’t even know how many magazines I have- I estimate that I have around 10,000, plus a large amount of books, brochures, promotional posters, calendars and other pieces of automotive memorabilia.
Here is where my dilemma comes in. Ann and I are planning to move to the Gulf Coast of Florida and downsize. I have been hauling these magazines with me on every move I made. No More.
When I got divorced a dozen years ago, I rented and filled a 10×20-foot storage unit with- you guessed it- car magazines. I have a lot more now and I have decided that if it is not actively used for research, it has to go. I had talked to a few people about taking the collection but the truth is, I think that most of them were taken aback when they found out just how large the collection has become. No one person seems to be able to handle them.
Ann teases me by threatening to call the producers of the Hoarding TV show but I steadfastly consider it collecting- my contention is that it is never hoarding if your stuff is cool. She is only kidding (I think) but the fact that my collection was well organized and on shelving indicates that I don’t have a problem. Okay, I am repeating that in my head and it does sound like something a crazy person would say- but I am not- you’ll have to take my word for it.
Eric’s passing brought his work with the Automotive History Preservation Society back in focus. He and I had spoken about it several times and in addition to founding the organization, he was very active in it, tirelessly scanning old magazines and sales brochures, compiling a huge online database of information.
After considering the options, I have decided to donate the bulk of my collection to the Society. I have some incredibly rare magazines and books as well as some very obscure Pontiac and Oakland sales literature as well as print ads that should be permanently preserved.
I contacted Bob Geromotta at AHPS and I have directed them to take all of my materials, scan them and then sell them off to help keep the operation running. With all of the stuff I have accumulated over the years, I am sure that it will help.
One thing that I learned at Eric’s memorial service was his appreciation of the military and those who fought and were injured in battle. At the time of his death, he was working with a local church organization to hire disabled vets to help with the scanning of materials for the Society. We hope that his vision for those employment opportunities materializes.
What about you? I can’t think of a better way to help preserve automotive history and make it available to everyone than to help the AHPS continue its work. They are doing a fantastic job of not only preserving automotive history but also helping to rebuild lives disrupted by injury and war.
Eric White was a wonderful man and everyone I know misses him terribly, myself included. In addition to continuing to run the AHPS ad without charge, I am donating my collection in memory of Eric and I hope that my contribution inspires you to pick up the torch and donate your cash and materials to the Automotive History Preservation Society.
For more information on the great work the AHPS does and how you can get involved, please visit the web site at ahpsoc.org.
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