"One of the street rod guys in the audience," continues Tom, "spotted one of the suits that went back with us and had him up against the wall and was going to smash him, he was so mad." The suits? Oh, they're long gone. Looking back, it was a little late for management to see firsthand the effect the first two Rod & Custom Street Rod Nationals (and R&C in general) had on street rodders, since the damage had already been done to scupper the magazine and the event. The next year it became the National Street Rod Association's event. Petersen Publishing was no longer involved. Maybe that's the problem today; too many suits! As an artist, a photographer, a salesman, or as a writer, Tom brought to Petersen Publishing an enthusiasm for his job that never ebbed till the day he left the building for good.
May I call Tom Medley "Smedley" for just a moment? A respected automotive journalist, who worked with Tom, made a rare slip of the keyboard when replying to my email. Medley became Smedley. But was it a slip? Medley ... Stroker, so why not Smedley? Sure, there's no doubt that Tom could have become a celebrated newspaper sports cartoonist. We tend to squirrel away our old Hot Rod and R&C magazines, we know where newspapers end up. Besides Tom didn't hang out at some sports bar, he hung out at Blair's. We got him instead.
A shindig took place recently at the Wally Parks NHRA Museum in Pomona for Tom. Guys and gals who worked for, sat next to, secretaried for, wrote for, sold for, sold to, raced with (get the picture?) and stood by Tom Medley gathered together. We spent a ruckus day with nary a dry eye in the house.