Breakneck Breastrokers: (Tom Sullivan, Bob Moosekian, Bruce Norvell) c.1961
The T.S. Club (Tigersharks: Tom Silva, Tina Solis, Tom Sullivan, and Tom Szuba) c.1965
Sully and Mark (Tom Sullivan and Mark Manrique) c.1965
The Photo-Booth (Tom Sulivan and Dennis Manrique) c.1962
Tom Sullivan-Portrait of an artist as a young man c.1961
Patton Team Photo: (Bottom row L to R: Harry Hauck Jr., Laura Frost, Mark Manrique, Linda Foster, Unknown, Barbara Foster; Top row L to R: John Savinsky, LaJune Rodgers, Ed Picard, Lee Davis, Tom Sullivan, Carl Boyd, Harry Hauck, Dennis Manrique, Monty Blashill, Rick Skarbo, Scott Blashill, Ron Boyd, Jim McNairy) c.1962
Sul•ly (sul'lee) n. 1. Irish sobriquet for one who is sullen: (1st row: Dave Dixion, Dave Wendler, Tom Sullivan, Dennis Manrique; 2nd row: Mark Manrique, Rick Skarbo, Harry Hauck, Ron Boyd, George Saldana) c.1963
Play Ball!: (Tom Sullivan, Dennis Manrique, Rick Skarbo, Carl Boyd, Ed Picard, Jim McNairy, Monty Blashill, John Savinsky, Ron Boyd) c.1961
Ricky Trys New Method For Attracting Girls: (Not in any particular order: John Hollinger, Frank Toomey, David Sahagian, Bobby Allred, Lori Davis, Gary Davis, John Savinsky, Mark Manrique, Don Cox, Ed Picard, George Saldana, Rick Skarbo, Mrs. Manrique, Caroll Hauck, Tim Hauck, Ed Snelzer, Brother, Francis, Mr. Adams, Mrs. Sahagian, Lori Davis, Gary Davis, John Westcott, Ron Enck, Sue Spilski, Pete Adams, Janice Enck, Ray Ferguson, Tom Sullivan, Randy Penn, Greg Penn) c.1962
Why's Everybody Always Pickin' On Me?: (Mary Beth Ceresko, Carol Danboise, Monty Blashill, Harry Hauck, Richard Szuba, Greg Golin, Doug Webster, Mark Manrique, Marcy Snyder, Tom Sullivan) c.1963
Wanna Dance?: (Fred Savinsky, David Sahagian, Joan Makkonen, Ron Boyd, Dennis Manrique, Stan Johnson, John Hollinger, Richard Szuba, Sue Spilski, Harry Hauck, Frank Toomey, Vivian Carozzo, Tom Sullivan, John Westcott, Lynn Makkonen, Mark Manrique, Tom Szuba, Tom Koch, Fred Johnson) c.1962
Tom Sullivan c.2000
Ed Picard and Tom Sullivan c.2000
Polo Patriarchs (Harry Hauck, Ron Boyd, Richard Dixon, Tom Sullivan, Joe Mueller, Mark Manrique, Dennis Manrique) c.2000
Y2K "Chicken Little of the Sea" Award (Tom Sullivan, Ed Picard) c.2000
Sully Strikes Gold (Tom Sullivan) c.1964
Brennan Pools PR Photo: (Harry Hauck on deck, front to rear: Richard Szuba, Johanna Cooke, Ray Ferguson, John Savansky, Lynn Makkonen, Bobby Koch, Tommy Koch, Linda Foster, Barbara Foster, Tom Sullivan) c.1961
"What is a Sully?"by Joanne Scarborough
"What is a Tigershark"by Joanne Scarborough
"Slavedriver Sully" by Joanne Scarborough
Twas a grand decade. It happened a million years ago, but like an anchor it remains close by, sometimes dragging along the bottom of our lives, sometimes fixed as a reference point around which we drift. Whether it was Patton Parks & Rec, Patton Seahawks, Patton ABC or Patton Tigersharks, the dynamic was the same and it molded lives in dramatic ways. I used to say, "It's audacious to think you're going to be number one . . . there must be something more to all this." I used to say that . . . now I believe it.
When you think about it, competitive swimming is pretty bizarre. Take a land animal like the human being, throw it in an alien medium like water, prescribe limitations on its motions, and tell it to go from point A to point B faster than anyone else. Sounds kind of arbitrary at best, meaningless at worst. The reason why in reality it was so meaningful may be because it had everything in it that life offers. Those who "got their feet wet" learned about hard work, attitude, honor, loyalty, competition, stress, self-respect, sacrifice, discipline, victory, failure, and above all "people." Most of us defined the archetypes of our lives while gasping for air "in the gutters" or in the post mortems of locker rooms and bleachers.
I've stretched that anchor cable across galaxies, and exchanged water for snow and rarefied air, but there remains a certain kinship with what I do now and what I did then. My allegiance has gone to a lot of sports since the days of swimming and water polo, but the constant is the marathon workout. This is highly individualized for me. Of the many marathons I have done -- 26-milers and 50 K's -- most of them have been performed alone and in solitary settings. I love running or cc skiing mountain bike trails, especially at night. Even though there may be a McDonald's over the next hill, you can find Olduvai Gorge out there in the sentinel pines with phantom blue snow and the vaults of the universe above you. I made a vow to always be outdoors at sunset, and that's generally where I am. Currently I do a lot of rollerblading. Maybe the reason I like the solitude is because the other side of my life is dense with people.
I'm a writer -- about 70 short stories and novels published. One Pulitzer Prize nom: THE PHASES OF HARRY MOON, Dutton, 1988 (lots of swimming stuff in there); and a Hollywood option on another novel, BORN BURNING, Dutton, 1989. Forge is bringing out my next hardcover, THE MARYTYRING, probably March 1998 (See Sully's Novels and his homepage at: http://members.aol.com/infoagtec/tsullivan.htm).
I was married for 23 years, now divorced, and have two children (Sean and Colleen). Neither swims. Colleen is graduated from Albion, Sean was a veteran of approximately one thousand stage performances by age 16 and is procrastinating college. My passion is playing all that bad music from the 50's and 60's on the tenor sax (only requires four notes). This may explain why there are no squirrels around my half acre of trees. Before the writing clicked, I started doing a lot of public speaking so that I didn't have to survive on industrial strength ketchup, and I still travel a lot to speak to groups. Lots of roads, lots of laughs, lots of adventures have kept me irreverent and looking ahead. I seem to be a magnet for dysfunctional and unusual people, as well as a few high-profile successful types, and so life is never dull.
I am much moved by Ed Picard's nostalgia/reverence for the past. Most of the people I've kept in touch with from swimming are kind of thumb-tongued about it. They are as bruised as unspent rainclouds with memories that they can't communicate except to those who went through the same experiences. Whatever else the phenomenon known as "Patton" bred into those who met the challenge, it bred loyalty. For thirty years I have not doubted that I could drift down the hill into the parking lot at the end of Woodmere at any moment and find Ed and Mike Fischer and Greg Golin and a host of others sitting in their cars with towels wrapped around their necks waiting for the next workout . . .
MORE ON THIS PAGE AS TIME GOES BY...(5/97)
Q#1: How did you start swimming at Patton Pool?
A. As a junior in high school, I lost 11 races by 1/10th of a second or less! The ref who was always giving judges decisions the other way felt so bad that he suggested I go to Patton. At that time I was just training longer and longer distances beyond what the coach said, figuring that's all it took. So Craig Tesch, Jeff Longstreth and myself went down to Patton one night in 1957 and we all trained there until Ron left, probably in late1958 or early 1959. I recall that I was set to go to Albion, but then attracted attention when I won Water Wonderland's men's 200 m breast and ended up going to MSU on a scholarship. Ron was still coaching me then, and so that was August, 1958. The world-record holder was at MSU and all I wanted to do was hold that record. The times were bad back then, and I came close to breaking the 100 in practice at MSU when it was held by a Cuban (Manuel Sanguili) and also the 220 in a 55-yard pool (they kept records in yards in those days and for all size pools). Ron and I went to California for a month in the spring of 1959, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't coaching at Patton the winter of '59-'60. At that point I was coming back from MSU 3-5 times a week and coaching people like the Manriques. I remember one day arriving in time for 5 pm practice by walking, running, canoeing, hitchhiking and riding a bike to get there. The guy I hitched a ride with had a gun and shells rolling around in the back of the car. Anyway, that winter of '59-'60 was probably when you saw me working with the Manriques, and the instructors would have been Tavidian/Ranspach/Zawacki (Zawacke?) and such. I quit MSU in the middle of that winter and coached every day thereafter, through the summer at Brennan and at least into late 1960 at Patton. The pool-time situation was bad. City people who were wise to the fact that I was the coach didn't feel obliged to give me pool time, since I didn't work for them. Harry had a little team, I think called the St. Clair Seahawks, that included Monty & Scott Blashill, and I encouraged him to transfer to Patton so that the competitive swimming program wouldn't be eliminated. I had never really wanted to coach, and while I didn't want to disappoint the swimmers I was training, there really wasn't any way we could preserve pool time other than with a full-time city instructor. We all wanted to swim, Harry came over, and that incarnation of Patton began. (5/97)
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Q#2: One cannot help but admire your creative imagination evidenced by your many writings and drawings. What influences do you see in your early childhood, either people or activities, that helped develop your imagination and creativity?
A: Rootlessness, "old-time radio," Walt Disney, and an unbroken line of schizophrenic ancestors which include Napoleon (six times). A less kind word for imagination would be "lunacy." It is perhaps significant that the hero of my first major hardcover was lunar -- Harry Moon. Whoever said that imagination is 99% perspiration understood more than sweat. You have to train yourself to look outside the frame of reference. Every affirmation implies an opposite, and somewhere along the continuum between them lies an infinity of possibilities. Learning to see those possibilities is what imaginatinon is. If you want the security of the small stage we are all born on, then you cling to the narrow trends and interpretations of your time; if you want a broader -- truer -- view for all time and space, you have to give up some of that security, open your mind, and examine each variance for true merit. I think living in a dozen countries before I was five helped me to do that. Individualized sports may also have contributed. Swimming, running, skiing, rollerblading, perpetuate the passion of excellence in a private arena, especially if performed outside competition. Creativity is lonely if rewarding. And, like sports, often the reward is simply knowledge of achievement within yourself. Also, long hours of training give your mind a daily time to explore and travel. Old-time radio shows were a similar vehicle for my mind to expand and imagine. I still drive around late at night listening to old-time radio shows on tape and enjoying things like a pair of swans in the moonlight on a black glass lake. Writers who have influenced me are Nabokov and John Cheever.(5/97)
Q.#3: When I remarked how the cartoons in Foam-Fare exhibit a high degree of technical skill as well as imagination, you mentioned that at one time you had actually gone to California to look into being a cartoonist for Disney. What year was that?
A.: 1959. That was the trip with Ron Alsobrook. Quite an adventure, and a lot of detours. Ron's father -- one of the more colorful members of the planet, and I believe a former Presidential campaign manager for Wendell Wilkie -- was with us from Detroit to Nevada, with side quests to Chicago, Texas and New Mexico. Most entertaining and enlightening, and sometimes death-defying to be with. Ron and I pulled into L.A. in a '58 Chevy Impala convertible with a dime and no gas, after fleeing Las Vegas. I wound up working at Pickwick Swim Park across from Disney studios in Burbank. Disney's artists hung out in bars and told me it was great while you work -- but you work two years and are laid off six, depending on projects. The Foam-Fare stuff was an agony to produce, like drawing on waxy toilet paper with a safety pin. The stylus kept tearing every time I tried to change directions or drew lines close together. Many drawings just fell apart and couldn't be used. It tended to simplify my style. Probably great training for a counterfeiter working on plates through a magnifying glass, but alas, I saved the world the burden of another starving artist when I switched to kickboard art and started writing.(6/97)
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Q#4: Not counting assigned compositions for school, at what age did you start writing creatively? What were some of your very early writings about and were there any people that especially encouraged you?
A: I think I still owe most of the compositions assigned in school. Nothing killed creativity quicker for me than having an instructor (usually a failed artist) say in so many words ". . . turn to page blah-blah and memorize the quality of 'insight.'" You can't be original by prescription. But then, my earliest solo efforts were just that anyway, I guess -- pale imitations of the Hardy boys, etcetera. I remember the 7th grade teacher acquiescing to me reading "my novel" aloud, at the request of classmates. When this went on in serial fashion for a week, the teacher was dismayed to realize I had something like 128 typed pages (wore the fingerprint off my index finger typing it). He found an excuse to shut me up. Out of that frustration, I don't think I wrote much more fiction out of class until college (if you don't count "research" papers, which were usually very short on research). And I never read out loud again until people started paying me to do it. Influences? Can't think of any specific person who motivated me, but there were lots of ghosts. Dead writers, especially 19 C. Russian literary figures, who seemed to me to be magnanimous, sprawling artists bigger than life. My themes tended to reflect that. Moody, introspective characters on perpetual searches. The searches became largely family oriented, and the characters tended toward madcap adventures. I use contrast heavily, humor to horror, and often that will drive a plot. The most poignant things I've written, or the funniest, or the most frightening, are invariably pushed up against an opposite feeling or tone. My first publication (science fiction) had a nuts-and-bolts plot that the CIA actually investigated. (6/97)
A.: Let me qualify "profession." I'd be too weak from hunger to speak if I depended on that to pay the bills. It probably averages 3-4 times a month, but there are months when I'm not asked to speak at all, and other months when I don't accept any engagements. Almost all of it centers around the writing/marketing experience. Colleges, schools, libraries, book signings, conferences, civic or cultural organizations, writing groups, work shops and the occasional Toastmasters or Lions Club comprise most of it. I prefer readings and answering questions, but I seem to do a lot of motivational stuff and or elaborate on specific literary topics. (The hired help dances to the required tune.) I suppose it's a natural outgrowth of teaching/coaching. Some of it springs from TV or radio interviews. It's amazing how things come out of the blue. When they filmed a segment of the Harrison Ford movie "Presumed Innocent" in Detroit, I happened to be interviewed in the Free Press, and the next thing I knew an agency asked me to do a bit part in the film. I wound up as a bartender overacting in the background. And that happenstance seemed to credential me to speak at everyone's banquet for a time. I prefer catching things on the fly, though, because even one engagement a week seems to loom over me if every week is laid out in advance like that for six months. The truth is, having a calendar filled with speaking obligations takes a lot of spontaneity out of my days. I want to be responsive, because it's an honor whenever you're asked, but I'm trying to cut back a little. Not too long ago I had a nice offer for a video series, but it would have involved many traveling sessions for taping (I hate to fly), and I couldn't really bend my life around it at the time. I don't mind driving across the country, if my expenses are covered and it doesn't disrupt other activities. Guess that makes me a typical artist -- lazy and fancy free. (6/97)
A.: The publishing world has divided me into little pieces, each with a different label. I'd prefer to follow the "literary mainstream" label as far as books are concerned, because that's a catch-all designation that maximizes my artistic freedom. But the reality is that publishers love tighter, commercial categories that make marketing predictable. So, I'll probably be forced in that direction. The Hollywood scene is another possibility. While even the thought of it makes me shudder, I'm sure I'd be out there hat in hand if they turned the current option on BORN BURNING into a deal with a screenplay. The people who bought the option want that, but when you're trying to get Sharon Stone or Madonna or Robert DeNiro to sign on, you let the connections fall where they may, so I'm definitely a long-shot. Francis Ford Coppola's office has also expressed interest in a story, and I'm not sure if that's going to lead anywhere. Day by day, creativity means playing the T-sax, cooking something lethal, or inventing a new way to work out -- something a lot of Patton alumni probably do. Finally, I have some galley changes to make on my next hardcover, THE MARTYRING, which comes out in March, 1998 (Tor/Forge). And a pitch is a good place to end an answer . . . very creative. (7/97)
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