Tom Cramer passed away on Friday, July 12th at the age of 54. Longtime Frunchroom attendees will remember Tom from the first night of our special two-night, 2nd anniversary extravaganza at Beverly Woods. But many people knew him as a storyteller of and about the Far Southwest Side.
I’ve included Tom’s complete Frunchroom performance at the bottom of this post. It will be included in the next episode of the relaunch of The Frunchroom podcast later this summer. He told three stories: “G.I. Joe and the Moral Test at the Five-and-Dime” and “Birthday Parties, Sleepovers, and Sunday Mass” and “Miss Daley, Linus, and Oratoricals.”
What you won’t see, but can likely hear, is Tom’s charisma and warmth as well as his love of the tiny details that make you feel a story in your heart.
As you’ll hear in the clip below, I ask every reader to send a bio. Tom’s was unique in that it traced his entire life, from birth right up until that moment. I’m reprinting it here because his voice comes through clearly – a voice that will forever be a part of The Frunchroom and will ring in the ears of those who knew him for a long time to come.
I was born in 1965 at Little Company of Mary in Evergreen Park into a South Side Irish Catholic family. I have 4 siblings, ranging 14 to 27 years older than I (the word you’re searching for is surprise; not mistake). I was an uncle at the age of 2, have 10 nieces and nephews and 20 great nieces and nephews.
My first home was at 103rd and Drake, second near 107th and Kildare in Oak Lawn, and then moved to the Oak Forest/Tinley Park area. I attended Kolmar (Oak Lawn) and St. Damian’s (Oak Forest) for grammar school, Marist High School and the University of Notre Dame.
Several years ago, I was shocked to hear that my friend Bob had passed suddenly. We met in 7th grade, and graduated St. Damian’s, Marist and Notre Dame together. That night, I had a flood of vivid memories about my childhood in Oak Lawn, before I ever met Bob. I typed them up and sent them to all the Kolmar school friends I could track down. Much to my surprise, one was an editor for the Huffington Post. She loved the piece and invited me to blog about growing up in the 70’s, and I started in the fall of 2012.
I’ve spent my entire career in the printing industry, which led me to live in the Dutch/Flemish speaking area of Belgium for a while during the 1990’s. This afforded me the opportunity to travel, including a visit to County Kerry Ireland, where both of my mother’s parents were born. Living in Belgium and traveling in Europe exposed me to the many different styles of beer, and I returned to the States just as the craft beer scene started to take off. I also blog for a social media craft beer group called the Pints Templars. Currently I’m working on building my own blogging site and ideas for fiction.