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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Interview with Tom Pollack


It's a bitter cold Valentine's day morning in Torrington, Connecticut. Much of New England has been pummeled with snow in recent weeks, and another 6-8 inches is expected later in the afternoon. In spite of the harsh weather, or perhaps because of it, the McDonalds on Main Street is quite the happening place.
A scattering of tables and booths host animated groups of men roughly ranging from age sixty to eighty-five. Some drink coffee but few are eating. They're there to talk. In a day where Facebook and video games consume the free time of a socially awkward younger generation, these men can teach us a thing or two about the importance of social capital. The banter is friendly and relaxed. Everyone knows everyone else, it seems, as indicated when they casually leave one table to join another, or call out to an acquaintance across the room.
Tom Pollack, a 72 year old retired highway supervisor for the town of Harwinton, rises from his booth of acquaintances to greet me. I'm here to interview him about the Route 8 murders but before we begin, I would like to talk to some of the men about the Flood of 1955. Tom points me in the direction of John Thrall, a fellow Harwinton resident. John is very old- old enough to have been a full-fledged adult at the time of the flood. After getting some flood stories from John, I join Tom at a private table.
The 1955 flood, I tell Tom, is going to be an important part of my upcoming true crime novel about the Route 8 Murders. Tom is perplexed. The Route 8 murders began in the late 1980s. I explain that the flood seems to be in the blood of the people of this region of Connecticut. It was obviously an emotional and financial trauma to many local communities, and it has stayed in the public psyche for decades.
He stares at me and says nothing. Feeling like a witness losing credibility on the stand, I try a different angle. Flood imagery, from a literary perspective, is rich with meaning... it speaks of God's punishment of men's evil and the subsequent cleansing of the earth, which gives hope for the future. This is all relevant to a book about a serial killer, don't you think?
He puts up his hands and says, "nah...ah...", and shakes his head with disapproval. Tom is a voracious reader of true crime novels. He sifts through them for the facts, and discards all the "bull-shit", as he calls it. Clearly, Tom Pollack is a no-nonsense, "just the facts, Jack" kind of guy.

Understood.

So let's talk about the facts, Tom, as you can remember them. Let's talk about that day in October 1988 when you discovered Karen Everett's corpse in a roadside ravine.

8 comments:

  1. Interesting. Cannot wait to read more. *waves to Tom*

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  2. That picture of McDonald's is east main st location. But great blog I did an oral history project on 55 flood very deep subject with many facets

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  3. By chance I sat next to at a dinner, as I recall, the desk seargent who got the call.

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  4. So tell me Anne Howard- what peaks your interest in these route 8 murders? Are you personally tied to them?

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    1. I am not personally tied to the Route 8 murders. I am a true crime writer and that's all.

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  5. It seems like the actual interview is cut off at the end of this post. Is it located elsewhere?

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  6. This post was meant as an introduction to the post that was published the following day in which I incorporated some of the details of my interview with Tom into the story about how Karen was found. I believe I still have the actual audio interview saved on my computer, although I never transcribed it word for word. Thanks for your interest.

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    1. Thanks so much Anne. I'm actually interested in all he had to say since I grew up in the neighborhood. If you need it transcribed, please let me know, I'd be happy to help.

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