"Whatca Readin?" This is how Tom and I would start most of our conversations. I was thinking about this today at his memorial. I was thinking about the first time we started chatting with each other, and it was about reading. I was on his train heading towards downtown and I was reading "Essential Chaucer", The Canterbury Tales, to be exact when he asked me what I was reading. So I told him, and share a line I had just read that I thought was brillant. It was easy to tell that Tom loved books. Tom always read great books. He would tell me about books he just got, or when the next book fair in glendale or pasadena was going to be. Pretty soon we started lending each other books. It was really nice, because I would love what he recommended and loaned me and he would love what I gave him to read. It was so nice to just sit on the train and talk about how Kerouac described food so well that you could see it and taste it. Or how Orwell described being "down and out" so well that you could feel it. Tom turned me on to so many great books, that I would always carry a note book with me to write down the titles of what he recommended. He loved the fact that he could read at his midday break for 2 to 4 hours. I remember him saying, "The only thing beter than reading is reading on company time".
At his memorial, there were at least 500 people. It was so packed that a couple hundred of us had to stand in the church courtyard for the service. It was nice to hear people tell stories about Tom, and how he had shown them kindness or generousity in his own special way. They told about how he loved to have water fights with his Grandkids, and how even the house was not a safe zone. It was obvious the people that truly knew him, because they couldn't get through their tale without having to pause and collect themselves. Every metrolink conductor I had ever met or seen as well as the Glendale, Fire Department and Police Department were there. It was nice to see such a large turn out for such a very ni, that I thought so highly of.
I remember how the train would pull into the station, and I would see Tom, hanging out of the car as i was pulling up, and I'd wave, and he would always waved back before the train had stopped just to let you know he was happy to see you. I'd get on the train, and after hearing him announce the that the train was departing he come over to his station to which I would sit next to and in is Olkahoma draw, ask "Whatca Readin?". I'm really going to miss hearing him ask that, and I am really going to miss him. Oh, by the way, I am starting to read James Joyce's Ulyesses, Tom recommended it.