Saturday, December 02, 2006

ROCKIN with Tom Snook, THE automotive toy man

Tom Snook is my dear friend, colleague, and mentor. As a collector of automotive toys, I've learned everything I know from this man. Tom's now 82. Only a few years ago he had one of the largest automotive toy collections in the world, since pared down greatly. Tom took me to a hundred toy shows, and, as Huck Finn would have said, "learned me good." To this day, I can visit a toy show with thousands of vehicles, and pick out the Top 50. Tom and I even collaborated on a book that's yet to be published, THE WORLD OF AUTOMOTIVE TOYS. Tom was a road-surfacing contractor for many years; the photo of young Tom was taken in 1952, next to his '39 GMC.

It was my huge pleasure yesterday to visit Tom in his Benicia, CA home and give him his copy of ROCKIN'. He enjoyed it hugely. I had a big grin on my face for hours afterwards. There's Tom looking at the page with Annette Funicello's comic book illustrations.

My wife Jane says I can have all the automotive toys I want, so long as they fit in the display case in our dining room. Tom's wife Velma pretty much gave him the same ultimatum (and Tom had two houses full!)--because otherwise automotive toys become a disease that spreads. But I did sneak into my office a wonderful collection of truck cranes!


JIm Snook said...

Paul's telling the truth about all the toys. Tom is my Dad and we helped move the toys more than once. At one time he had a store in Benicia, an old appliance store and warehouse in Crockett and a house, all full of Toys.

I think I may have helped start his career. Back in the 60's I started buying him Chevy manufacterers model cars in boxes, from the dealers. But, boy did his career in toys take off from there.

He also used to own a unique auto dismantling yard for only "Old Cars" in Concord, California called the "Car Barn"

Paul, thanks for the Blog post on the old man..

J said...

Hello! Thanks for posting this information about Tom Snook. I didn't know who he was, but he sold a toy Model A Cabriolet to me on eBay. I have a full size real cabriolet just like it and thought it was neat. When I received feedback about the toy purchase it said, "In Memory of Tom Snook, May 2008." I was sorry to see that, and glad to read your blog about him. Thanks for putting a little information out there about him, and reading it made the little toy much more special to me!

Medical Blog said...

But, boy did his career in toys take off from there.

Anonymous said...

I met Tom at the San Mateo Antique Show
I was looking for model car kits and he said come to
Crocket ( I have a couple of boxes full ) ...........
Little did I know what I was walking into!!!!!!!
I bought some kits that day ( I did not have a lot of money ) so he let me put the rest on hold...
I remember his black Nomad sitting in his carport........
Nice.................! ( By the way , this was 1980 )
We developed a nice friendship and an agreement
that I would build two kits for him to display ( after
I showed him my work ) and he would pay me with the kit of my choice .....
So..........a number of the cars in his display cases were built by me!!!!!!
Quite an HONOR!!!!!!!!!!
I could go on with many more memories like when
his Knees were shot and he would tell me and my son Aaron to go downstairs and hunt through the boxes for treasures!!!!!!!

What an amazing piece of human history he was
!!!!!!!!!!! Love to Tom

ThePerfect36 said...

Tom was a fantastic guy. My brother and I would see him at every antique show held at the San Mateo Fairgrounds and we purchased many promotional from him. We also visited him in Crocket and were amazed at his collections. Such a nice man. We miss you Tom!