Tom’s Woody Party
Thanks to last December’s great story by News of Davidson’s Bill Giduz, “car guy” Tom Cotter invited us to his 20th annual “Woody Party” on the grounds of the home he shares with his wife, Pat, on the east side of town.
Reader, we must confess that News of Davidson rolled up in a 2011 Subaru Legacy, parking it as quickly and unobtrusively as possible.
We began to ooh and ahh. The Cotters’ winding drive and expansive lawn were filled with sparkling motorcars: a Rolls Royce there, a row of Woodies there, here a Triumph, there a Cobra, everywhere a Model-T, and — okay, we don’t know what-all.
Hundreds who do know what-all were oohing and ahhing as well, telling tales, and dropping knowledge as they roamed among cars bearing license plates from Florida to Illinois, Colorado to Connecticut.
In addition to coupes, beer, and barbecue, the major attraction seemed to be a book-signing. Seated by a tented table stacked with books, Tom cheerfully autographed his most recent publication, as well as any number of earlier tomes presented by car enthusiasts, lined up for a personal inscription.
Tom is well known among these car guys (an accepted generic usage, thank you), from the books and videos he devotes to discovering and restoring rare autos. He published his first book in 2000. His newest, “Ford Model-T Coast to Coast: A Slow Drive Across a Fast Country,” is his 17th, which comes to about a book a year since the turn of the century.
The Amazon review of Cotter’s books describe them as containing “Every car-guy’s fantasy — to casually peer into a long-forgotten garage or barn or warehouse and find the car he has searched for his whole life.… These are the stories that fuel the dreams of car collectors everywhere.”
Tom’s party is a more than a celebration of revered vehicles; it’s an annual benefit that began with about 50 enthusiasts gathering to display their cars and enjoy barbecue and beer. He turned the gathering into a charity event by asking attendees to bring a case of food, which he donated to the Ada Jenkins Community Center food bank. By last year the crowd increased to 300 people, who now bring light-weight gift cards instead of heavy cases of canned food. Last year, Tom collected $8,000 in cards for the center.
So thank you, Mr. Cotter, for the invitation, the beer, and the wonderful contribution to Ada Jenkins. And to Davidson lore.
A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.