March 8, 2013 |  by

Eric Sloane – 1905-1985 or 1910-1985?  This question comes up often, with reputable sources who should know better often using the incorrect birth date for Eric.  Eric Sloane had an aversion to dates.  I have several pieces of correspondence written by him that are not dated, and I have seen several other letters written by Sloane, none of them dated.  To my best recollection, the only Eric Sloane painting upon which Eric included a date was Coming Home, a painting recently featured on this website.

Many years ago, I took Ruth Hinrichs out to lunch on Long Island.  I’d ring Ruth up on the telephone occasionally and ask her if she would like to go to lunch – she loved The Ruby Room in Mineola, and another restaurant – whose name escapes me – when she wanted to go to brunch.  On one of these occasions together Ruth and I talked about Eric Sloane’s aversions to dates and dating things.  She remembered once, very early in her marriage to Eric Sloane, she was trying to help him remember something that had happened a few years earlier and was “walking him through the math” trying to determine when it had occurred.  The effect of that conversation on Eric Sloane was striking.  He became visibly ashen, as if all of the color drained from his face, according to Ruth.  His countenance had changed so dramatically, that Ruth and Eric never spoke of dates again throughout there marriage.

It was Eric himself who began the controversy over his date of birth.  Sloane wrote “I confess to having gained five years in Who’s Who (giving my birth date as 1910 instead of 1905) and I hope sticklers will forgive that childish prank (Sloane, Eric. Eighty. New York: Dodd Mead & Company, 1985, no pagination).”  Eric Sloane’s correct birth year is 1905, not 1910.  And seeing how March was Eric’s birth month, a happy birthday to you, Eric Sloane!

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