January 10, 1969: Novelist Tom Kromer Died in Huntington

Jan 10, 2018

Best known for his first novel, Waiting for Nothing, published in 1935, Kromer chronicled the plight of the downtrodden during the Great Depression.
Credit e-WV / WV Humanities Council

Novelist and short story writer Tom Kromer died in Huntington on January 10, 1969, at age 62. During his childhood, his family moved frequently—living in Huntington, Fairmont, Kingwood, and Williamstown—wherever his father could find work in the coal or glass industries.

Best known for his first novel, Waiting for Nothing, published in 1935, Kromer chronicled the plight of the downtrodden during the Great Depression. He attracted the attention of the literary left, including Theodore Dreiser and Lincoln Steffens, who published some of Kromer’s short fiction in his magazine, Pacific Weekly. Kromer’s unfinished novel, Michael Kohler, was edited by playwright Eugene O’Neill and others and published partly in American Spectator magazine. In it, Kromer drew upon the firsthand struggles of his father and others in the coal and glass industries.

Kromer attended Marshall College (now University) for brief periods in the late ‘20s before crisscrossing the country, often hopping freight trains. After getting married in 1936, he settled in Albuquerque. He became an invalid about 1940 and gave up writing. Tom Kromer returned to Huntington in 1960 and lived there with family until his death.