While some eccentrics are specialists, focusing all their non-conformity on a single, overriding obsession, it was found that a surprisingly large number express their eccentricity in several different directions.
GARY HOLLOWAY keeps a veritable stable of hobbyhorses.
He is obsessed with Martin Van Buren, the eighth president of the U. S. A. In 1977, Gary discovered that Van Buren was the only president not to have a society dedicated to his memory, so he promptly founded the Martin Van Buren Fan Club. “This man did absolutely nothing to further the cause of our national destiny,” Gary told me, “yet hundreds of people now follow me in commemorating him.”
Gary has served as his clubs president for numerous terms, and he has been the winner for as many times of the Marty, the club’s award for excellence in Van Burenism. Gary is also a lifelong devotee of St. Francis of Assisi, and frequently dresses in the habit of a Franciscan monk. “It’s comfortable, fun to wear, and I like the response I get when I wear it,” he explained. “People always offer me a seat on the bus.”
Gary also has an obsession with the British Commonwealth, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of places like Tristan da Cunha and Fiji. During the Falklands War he passionately espoused the cause of the islanders, to the point of flying the Falklands flag on the flagpole on his front lawn. After the war he celebrated Britain’s victory by renaming his home Falklands House, where he continued to fly its flag for many years since.
Gary is also a collector; his bedroom still has everything in it that it did when he was a small boy. He calls it the Peanuts Room because of his massive collection of stuffed Snoopies and other memorabilia pertaining to the comic strip Peanuts. He has slept on the same twin bed there for 59 years. He has dozens of toy airplanes, relics of his boyhood, and his walls are covered with pennants. “As a monk,” he explained, “I’m always doing pennants” — thereby demonstrating the mischievous sense of humor which many eccentrics possess.