A Tribute to Tom Lamb
Written by High School Friend, Dean Blegen
Tom and I, along with about 28 other kids from Spring Valley, WI started kindergarten together back in 1948. We were a close-knit group that shared many happy experiences like swimming in the Eau Galley River which ran through the Lamb Farm. This was long before we had swimming pools in the towns of our size.
Tom lived on that River and we camped there as well with our single tarp “make-shift” tent slung over a long stick that we found in the woods. We fished with a cane pole from the Hardware Store but we seldom ate the fish, it was just fun to catch them. (I think we made a lot of “smart” fish!)
We played ball together and when we had a Birthday Party, our mothers would organize them at our houses which were walking distance from each other. We also went to the Local “Showhouse” (Theatre) on Friday nights to watch shows like “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” for 14-cents, and with popcorn just a nickel more. We were scared walking home in the dark, too, after that one!
When we were in Elementary School Tom missed almost a week of school and then we found out that he was diagnosed with POLIO! I remember how sad we all were. We had been donating our Dimes to the Sister Kinny Foundation in Minneapolis to help the kids in the “iron lungs” at that time and even had pictures of those things with the kids’ heads sticking out.
Our first thoughts were for Tom of course, but that quickly morphed into us having Polio too, after all, we had just been playing together and we didn’t know how contagious it was. Tom missed most of that school year, but still stayed in our class and graduated into the next grade.
He went on to High School eventually and was an extremely good athlete along with many other kids in our class. He had overcome so much. I remember looking over some of my Mother’s things that she saved for us since starting school and seeing the many Valentines that were bought at the local Wise Dime Store that all looked the same. They had different names on them of course, of which Tom’s name was one of them. (I still have them!)
After reading about Tom’s life after High School which I didn’t know much about, as we all went our separate ways. I can see that he was very successful in many of his experiences, e.g. like the Marine Corp and becoming a Chief Executive of an Insurance Company to name just two very big ones.
I thought, Gee, his experience with Polio at a young age and beating it, surely affected everything that he did later on, like recovering from losing two wives to Cancer and raising his children alone. I lost my wife when my oldest son was just about 3 years old and how dark life was during that time. I will remember Tom as a good friend, and I will say this bow:
The world is a better place because he spent 77 years with us. I say this to him now: “Tom, I will see you again on the “other side.”