Tom Meade Update
From: Elysee Bakery and Café, Westwood, California.
October 2, 2011
Artwork and writing by Chad Glass
As the October morning sun permeates the Sepulveda Pass, heading south out of the valley, I find the Sunset exit and the old drive comes back: I’m going to UCLA in Westwood to visit Tom Meade. It’s long overdue as I ponder the months, as they came and went. Sparked by my recent viewing of a resurfaced “60 Minutes” segment on Tom Meade in Modena, Italy, in 1970, I am finally making time to meet him today, to resume where we had left off.
Thinking back, I believe the last entry I made about Tom Meade was on 12-29-2009. So for almost two years I have not been in touch with the man. Has it really been that long? Surely I must have spoken with him after the last entry but made no further writings. The thought of two years seems hard to believe, seeming like an eternity in this context. But life has a way of getting in the way, and things just seem to get on by.
Rising early to make the 11 am meeting, I rubber-band a couple of pens together, fetch a yellow legal pad, and a camera. I would take as many pictures as he would allow. I would write as much as he would give until I could not write anymore. Maybe a voice recorder was in order, but I did not prepare one.
Reminiscing over the last time I took this specific drive, I am taken back and begin to take personal inventory: Last time I did this I was in a sports car of my own. But it is now long totaled and sold for parts. I have since moved house, and lots of things in life have changed. But the sun is the same, and the twisting road presents the same enticing curves for a well-tuned suspension. Today I only expect good things. “Tom is still doing the car,” I say to myself. “That hasn’t changed.”
Calling ahead, as I am early to arrive, Tom answers and says he’ll be right there so come on back. Navigating the sloping narrow way around down to the back I find a spot, turn the car off, and get out. He hears me arrive and says to give him a minute.
As I’m standing by the car waiting he signals for me to come forth and I greet him on the porch. It’s good to see him again and we assume the behavior as if no time has elapsed. I’m glad to be there.
Ascending the sloping driveway we drive a short jaunt through some narrow streets and a back alley to Elysee Café, park, and order a coffee and a cappuccino. Seated prominently outside at a corner bistro table we begin our long visit among the wonderful humdrum of the in-town environs. The neighborhood humanity on parade and the bustle of a Saturday in LA frames this slice of life as I take a sip. As I’m getting the pen out to write Tom and I are already chatting: