Nicholas Leo Michael Crome

October 10, 1932 - March 9, 2018

 

 

 

    “Nothing by Halves” is the motto Nicholas Crome requested on his tomb stone. He finally settled on that after several other burial schemes were rejected by his family. We said no to his being stuffed and placed in the passenger seat of our mother’s car. We said no to the shallow burial plot in our mother’s back-yard where he would decay under chicken wire until his bones were ready to be assembled into an articulated skeleton and placed in his son’s home. He finally agreed to a simple green burial in White Oak Cemetery; wrapped in a muslin shroud, lowered into the ground by his family and marked with a tombstone emblazoned with his motto.

   Nick Crome valued manual labor and living the simple life and he rejected anything he considered “phony baloney.” He loved to build things, like the house in Colorado where his children Max, Caleb and Althea were born. He built three grandfather clocks, many Shaker mirrors, carved lots of spoons and was always proud of anything he built with his hands. He hated waiters who offered to grind pepper on your food and salt-shakers that didn’t produce copious amounts.

   Nick loved literature and poetry with a passion and went on to found and edit Transpacific magazine. He also taught literature in Iowa, Colorado, Yellow Springs and Japan and thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by young people. Nick loved track and field and enjoyed coaching his sons in high school. He loved to sing and whistle and did it often (much to his children’s embarrassment).

   Nick was a lifelong adventurer and enjoyed traveling and visiting with friends, who he would often drop in on unexpectedly. He was born in Philadelphia where he met Nancy, the woman he would love crazily for the next 60 years. Nick and Nancy had three children and eight grandchildren together. They lived in Iowa and Colorado, then to Japan where they both taught English. Nick drove his family to Yellow Springs, Ohio in a school bus and there the family settled for over 3 decades on a small farm. Nick was larger than life and one of a kind. He was a difficult man but life was never boring with him. In his own last words, he claimed he was “intractable, insoluble, ineffable and uncontrollable.” Nothing by halves.

   Graveside service 11:00 a.m. Wednesday March 14, 2018 at White Oak Cemetery, 1200 W 7th St. Bloomington.

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Alas, my most recent attempt to contact Nick was too late! My memories of Nick are mostly of Kenyon days, my moving to Philadelphia (briefly) after my belated graduation (having been expelled 6 weeks before scheduled graduation) and then to NYC where still live, traveling all over the world but rarely to anyplace Nick was at the time I travelled there. A lifetime later, I saw Nick at 1 or 2 -- maybe more -- Kenyon reunions.

I am amazed, reading what others have posted here to discover how much more Nick and I shared than I imagined, not seeing his evolution through so many decades! both of us valuing and working at MAKING things, manual labor, skilled or otherwise, cantankerous mischievous rebellious "no half ways" indeed!

Those photos are wonderful! Wow, they catch Nick in a way that lets me see how his latent larger-than-life grew from the guy I used to tease with my ditty

"They call him Nickle-ass Crome,

a peculiar sort of gnome,

with an ass that was fickle

and a half-an-inch..." [etc.]

Goodbye, Nick -- glad I knew you, wish I'd known you better.

-- Frank LeFever

    Mr. Crome was a long time library patron who I had the pleasure of helping over the years. I always enjoyed his stories and his inquisitive mind. He will be missed.

    Bobby Overman

Nick stories… In no particular order.. where to start..? How about the summer of 1972 when we cleared a small circle of land in a nearby cornfield and grew 10 marijuana plants? As tall as they got, the corn was always taller so no one could see them.. We harvested them and spent countless hours cleaning out all the seeds until we had filled at least two gallon jugs with cleaned, ready-to-roll weed. I think my share lasted about 5 years..

Then there was the time we drove from Ohio to Philly. (Naturally we had to drive all night as Nick could never accept losing daytime hours.. The fact that he was completely useless most of the following day once we arrived never seemed to make a difference in his thinking.) We surely set a record for most renditions of “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey” sung between Yellow Springs and Philadelphia.. (Interspersed with verses from “I Used To Work in Chicago..” [.. a lady came in for a girdle, I asked her what kind she wished.. “Rubber” she said. Rub her I did! I’ll never work there anymore…] I couldn’t sleep while HE drove because he would fall asleep at the wheel every ten minutes. And when I drove he would give me a heart attack every ten minutes as he would doze in the passenger seat and then wake up screaming every time the car lurched even slightly. Best road trip ever.

The first outing after settling into our room was for booze. 4.99/gal was good booze; but 2.99/gal was even BETTER booze! Once fortified we’d head off shopping for antique rugs..

Nick infused me with his love for poetry. Because of him I can still, 40+ years later, recite from memory at least 30 or 40 minutes worth..

I remember sitting at your kitchen table at night, eating pickled daikon and telling bad jokes..

Nick helped me find an old VW bus, for which he would not let me spend over $100. (Spending anything over $100 for any car was just.. well.. unthinkable!) Then he helped me rebuild the engine. My girlfriend Janet and I made it from Ohio to LA in that thing, although it wouldn’t do more than 20mph up the hills of Montana. Janet and I said goodbye forever once we reached LA. She drove off in it, and I have no idea how far she got before it died..

I was there for at least one of his infamous and far-too-numerous power tool injuries. He was helping me rout the edge of a table when he jammed his thumb into the blade. I rushed him to the ER, naturally. Turned out his thumb wasn’t severed, as he had thought, just mangled. Years later he would proudly display his rather delicately pointed thumb and recall how marvelous it was that I had actually seen his bones..!

Nick was the embodiment of enthusiasm and passion. It would be hard to imagine, if you didn’t know him, how one man could be so wracked with self-loathing while simultaneously so unquestionably confident in the superiority of everything he thought, and in his singular vision of how things should be..

If to be human is to be flawed then Nick was as human as they come.

But if to be human is also to love with every fiber within that flawed shell; and if we are here with no other mission than to simply be who we are, then surely Nick was the best among us.

We were best friends. I will miss him terribly.

    Shawn Skylark

    My heartfelt and deepest condolences to Nick’s family and all those who loved him. I share your grief.

    I first met Nick in 2010 when my family responded to an ad he had placed on Free-cycle for tomato plants (after getting to know him better, I realize how very “Nick” that interaction was). While we were there, Nick invited us in to see his dwarf hamsters, two “males” who had just had a litter of baby hamsters. Our daughter, a 4th grader at the time, took home two baby hamsters from that litter. We remained in contact via email for a while, and Nick kept our hamsters for us while we were on vacation. I would spot Nick around town in his red car from time to time, and I’d always smile when I saw DVDs reserved in his name on the hold shelf at the library. When our daughter was in high school, we would see Nick at choir and theater performances where his grandchildren performed alongside our daughter. He had a smile to light up a room, so he was hard to miss in a crowd.

    It was only these casual contacts I had with Nick over several years, until last year just a few days before Easter he made a comment to me in the checkout line at Marsh, and we struck up a conversation. I reminded him of the hamsters we had gotten from him many years before, and I helped him load his groceries and followed him home to get them unloaded. From there, we became good friends. It seems hard to believe that it has only been a year, but I feel so very fortunate to have gotten to know him and to have shared our friendship for that year.

    I loved Nick’s smile and his positive outlook. He was smart and funny and a voracious movie watcher. We could pick up 20 DVDs at the library, and in two days time, he’d be ready for more. He loved his alma mater, Kenyon College, and even talked of hitchhiking there for his class reunion last fall. He was never afraid of adventure, even at 85. He had a happy spirit and he loved life. He loved his family most of all. When he spoke of any of you, it was with such a deep love it was palpable. He had a tiny notebook where he was making a list of all the songs he knew. He was hoping to record himself singing for his “yet to be born great grandchildren.” I hope that if or when those babies arrive, you will tell them they had a great-grandfather who loved them, even before they were born, and sing many songs to them in his honor.

Wishing you peace and solace in the days ahead,

    Robyn Crook

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