Tom Kromer Driving Tour
The Charles Boldt Bottle factory holds significance to Kromer, as it is the workplace of his father Michael Albert Kromer. Michael Kromer being a blue collar glass blower, Kromer was exposed to the themes he commonly touched upon in his literature at a young age. Smith Hall was chosen for this tour because it is currently the location where the Parthenon is written. The Parthenon is the student newspaper for Marshall University. Although Tom Kromer never stepped foot within the walls of Smith Hall, it was not built until 1967, He was a contributor to the Parthenon newspaper. During his time as a student, Kromer wrote an article for the newspaper explaining what he had learned and experienced during a school project. During the project, he was instructed to live as a homeless man on the streets of Huntington for a week. The Keith Albee Theatre is located on the same street where Kromer carried out his school project. His project was to live on the streets of Huntington as a homeless man. He would later write an article in the Parthenon, Marshalls newspaper, detailing what he had encountered during that week. Huntington B&O Railroad Depot is a location integral to Kromer’s life and literature. Having to resort to a life of hoboism, Kromer used his hometowns railroad to traverse the countryside. The inspiration he took from this not so ideal journey formulated his most notable work “Waiting for Nothing.” Without the B&O Railroad, Kromer’s best seller may have never came to fruition. The Occoquan workhouse was a short-term jail for people serving for minor offenses, one individual being Thomas Kromer. While on the “fritz” Kromer traveled across the U.S. searching for work like any other man was during the Great Depression, but was caught at the wrong place at the wrong time. Finding himself in D.C. Kromer attempted to squat at an empty building, only to get caught and be detained in this very workhouse. During the time of Kromer’s arrival to New Mexico, he was considered a “health seeker” - someone who travels to find a cure for a particular illness. And in this case, Kromer was diagnosed with tuberculosis seeking special treatment promised in New Mexico. So, after initially being treated for tuberculosis at a nearby St. Joseph’s Sanitarium, Tom Kromer was then transferred to Hillcrest Sanitarium, previously known as Sunnyside. He was treated with the New Mexico sunshine until he was discharged from the sanitarium, keeping his promise to marry his soon to be Janet Kromer. Kromer and his wife Janet purchased this house in 1937. Tragically, Janet Kromer passed away of lung cancer after which Tom Kromer would leave their house of 23 years and move back to West Virginia to live with his mother and sisters. After the passing of his wife Janet, Thomas Kromer would move into this home in 1960. This is where he spent the final days living as a recluse. He passed away in 1969 due to complications with tuberculosis. His body rest at Spring Hill Cemetery in a family plot, and can still be visited today. His grave marker has the simple phrase, "Brother, Thomas M. Kromer, 1906-1969."