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North Pole man finds happiness in collection of over 6,000 model cars

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:02 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -John Hotchkiss started collecting small model cars in 2005 after his wife brought one home.

“Well, I blame this whole collection on my wife. She won’t admit that but, she bought me my first one,” Hotchkiss chuckled. “I said ‘Wow! Look at the details!’ They are just unbelievable because they are so small. In a couple of days, we went to Fred Meyer… I ended up with 50 cars that day.”

John Hotchkiss is incredibly proud of his collection of local cars, including North Pole...
John Hotchkiss is incredibly proud of his collection of local cars, including North Pole Police, North Pole Fire Department, and Alaska State Trooper cars.(Sarah Hollister)

Hotchkiss said around that same time, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to retire early from his career at Golden Valley Electric Association. After receiving a stem cell transplant and being told to stay out of the public, Hotchkiss said waiting for the latest order to come in the mail gave him a reason to get up every day.

“I was ordering them on eBay and Amazon both, and I couldn’t wait to get them,” Hotchkiss said. “So every other day, I was getting three or four new cars, learning more about the different kinds of cars and years.”

Then last year, his health took a turn for the worse - and once again, his model cars helped pull him through it.

“Last summer, when I got really sick, I didn’t have anything. I just didn’t think I was going to make it,” Hotchkiss said. “I’d come out here and sit in my chair and listen to my music and stare at these cars and slowly came out of it.”

John Hotchkiss sits in his easy chair, a place he commonly found comfort during his cancer...
John Hotchkiss sits in his easy chair, a place he commonly found comfort during his cancer treatments.(Sarah Hollister)

With more than 6,000 model cars, John Hotchkiss said he completed his collection in 2019, but still will buy them for a dollar when he sees them around Fairbanks.

“They’ve actually saved my life, just the excitement of seeing them, the different cars.” Hotchkiss chuckled.

While his health has improved since last summer, Hotchkiss still has an uphill battle with cancer - but knows that he can always find solace in his garage with his impressive collection of model cars.

“It’s a good hobby, and you will meet a lot of nice people,” Hotchkiss added with a smile.

John Hotchkiss looks over his collection of cars. He said his hobby helped distract him from...
John Hotchkiss looks over his collection of cars. He said his hobby helped distract him from his incurable cancer.(Sarah Hollister)

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