Thursday, September 10, 2009

Remembering Drew Thomas

Drew Thomas was one of my roller hockey friends down at Avenue F back in the 1970’s. A real sweet kid with a wicked sense of humor and more intelligence than all of us put together, yes Drew was a real smart kid and we all knew it.

Now Drew was real “cool” too, with long brown hair and good looks, Drew was our own “Peter Frampton” and certainly had a “Rock Star” look even while wearing his light blue Penguins jersey. Drew was also the captain of his team, which really meant a lot in our world of “Avenue F” roller hockey. Being the captain of your team certainly propelled you to a much higher level in the eyes of the players and everyone else.

I was on the senior Northstars and was probably three or four years older than Drew, so we never got to play together in league games. But once the “real” games were over many of us hung around afterwards to play “choose up” games, which always-included Drew Thomas. In fact for me most of the fun I had at Avenue F was probably during those choose-up games, because most of the time we were laughing and having a good time with each other, rather than trying to kill one another.

Now most of us never played organized ice hockey, but at times we would rent the ice at Skyrink on 33rd street at these weird times like 3am. And Drew was always part of our late night trips into the “Big City”. Sitting in the back seat of my 73 Buick Century looking like a “Rock Star” on his way to Madison Square Garden rather than a hockey rink on the West side of Manhattan, there was Drew Thomas. Always a smile and never a bad word out of his mouth. Yes, Drew Thomas was one of those people that you always wanted to hang out with. Be it on the hockey rink or at Cosmos diner afterwards, we all liked it when Drew was with us.

I remember seeing Drew in the lobby of my building at 9 West 57th street once back in 1987 or 1988. We had a nice conversation and then went our separate ways, that was the last time in my life I ever saw Drew.

I don’t remember who told me about Drew passing away. But when I heard it I was in total shock, and I thought about all the times we played hockey together and those late nights at Cosmos Diner after renting Skyrink.

Yes, hearing about Drew Thomas sent shockwaves through our little world of roller hockey and through us as well.

I just wanted to let Glenn Thomas, Drew’s brother, know
that Drew was a very big part of our “roller hockey youth”.
The kind of person you will always remember and never forget.
Always feeling fortunate that you knew him once.

And from me, who lost a brother a long time ago as well.
All I can say is; you never forget your brother, never.

Ron Lopez


Spinner said...

I was fortunate enough to know Drew not only in the neighborhood but he also worked with Gruder and I at Barnes & Noble in Manhattan. He was a kind soul, he'd always take the time to teach me something or bust my chops. Last I saw Drew it was a vintage Drew Thomas moment. We were in the PS 154 school yard, I was playing pick-up basketball and somebody walks in with this gorgeous girl on his arm. We all turned to look, and of course it was Drew Thomas. I chuckled to myself because, of course it'd be Drew. He was a little more "corporate" you might say but the hair was still a little long and the pants were still a bit "rock star" tight. And it was just great to see him. Like Ronny said, occasionally I think of Drew and I think, we really lost one of the good ones. Thanks Ronnie.

Anonymous said...

Wow. How sad. I didn't know Drew real well, but your description was perfect from what I do recall of him. May he rest in peace. There were a couple of guys I was pretty close to that died much to young too. Billy Powell and Charlie Hadjar. I will write something in the future about both. I considered both of them good friends. Charlie was like a brother to me for a few years and Billy (only 14 when he died) was a tragic situation. I hope they have a roller hockey rink in heaven. If they do, they'll be able to put out a heck of a hockey team.
Charlie Gili

Pete Pabon said...

Although I had not seen nor heard from Drew in over 25 years I am extremely saddened to hear this. Like Spinner and Gruder, I met and knew Drew through our employment at Barnes and Noble during our college years. His kindness and gentleness belied the tough guy hockey image, but his Rock Star image sang loud and clear. He was Park Slope's version of Ron Dugay. If I'm not mistaken, he played Ice Hockey at St. Francis College for a year or so. I'm curious as to the when and how of his passing, if anyone would care to fill in the blanks. My belated condolences to the family.

Ron Lopez said...


I heard that drew died a few years back. From what I was told is was some type of cancer. I only thought about posting the story after I received a message from his brother on the "Container Diaries" blog.

Sorry you had to hear it this way.

Ronnie Lopez

hoops135 said...


Nice piece on Drew-He was a good dude. Good job with the blog, I like the new look.

Container Diaries

Anonymous said...


I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this. I may be young, but I still remember Drew. I didn't know him that well, but only because I was a newborn. I still love him and miss him, and I wish that he hadn't died, but I'm glad that so many people remember him in good ways. He was a great uncle.
Drew Thomas's niece

Anonymous said...

I didnt know my uncle the way I wanted to, but I loved him. I was only 3 weeks old when he died. It was hard growing up because I didn`t know that much about him. Soon I had 2 new siblings and knew they were going to be just like me. They didn`t know that much about them either. 3 years ago I went to see his grave. My mom and I were trying to find it the freezing cold. We were so upset we couldn`t find it. Right at that exact moment I turned around and the grave was right in front of me. This was a sign that he was watching over us. I will always remember Uncle Drew, just like this story. Drew`s second niece Adrie Leonardo.

Ron Lopez said...


We all knew your uncle quite well from the hockey court. He was very intelligent, witty, and thought about his words whenever he spoke. It's funny but many of the guys that played hockey were, well lets say they were a little "unpolished" and rough around the edges. But Drew, not Drew, he was quite polished and was the kind of guy that others always looked up to. You know he was the captain of his team, which was quite an honor down at the hockey rink.

He was the type of person that made this world a better place, although short lived, he indeed did. And that is why everyone remembers him so well, and we are still sad of his passing.

I'm sure the goodness and kindness of Drew lives on in you because you are a relative of his. And in us because he was our friend

Ron Lopez

Anonymous said...

Drew Thomas was my uncle.I wasn't born when he passed away,but I've seen pictures.I wish I could of met him though,I know he was awesome. Drew's Niece, Olivia Katherine Leonardo

Anonymous said...

Thanks For writing back and thank you so much for creating this page. It means a lot.

Anonymous said...

The two nieces are different people. The first one is my sister. The third one is my other sister.

Dennie said...

What a beautiful tribute.
I didn't know Drew back then, but it sounds like some things just never change -- the dynamic kid described was the brother-in-law I met and got to know and care about. The love Drew had for life -- and all the people in it -- was so genuine, so pure, and just being around him made you feel like you were having the best day ever.
My husband, Peter, loved Drew like an older brother... and Drew is with him every day. We both miss his light, his presence, his groan-inspiring jokes, his warmth... Drew Thomas was a true rock star, and then some.