His old friends called him ‘Mock’

Greater Pittston Progress editor Patti Houston sent me a message around noon Monday alerting me that Tom Tigue, the beloved, I think it’s fair to say, Tom Tigue, had died. She wanted to be sure I knew in case I wanted to write my weekly column about him. She knows I usually write the “Optimist” on Monday nights.
I had received a couple of text messages earlier and already knew of Tom’s passing and had already rejected the notion of writing about him. And reconsidered it, and rejected it, and reconsidered it.
The problem was not that I could not write about Tom (I knew him for close to 50 years) or would not want to (there are few people I’ve admired more.) The problem was I had just written about him in November. That was when he was about to be honored by the Pittston YMCA. I built the column around the touching story of how his first child, son Tommy, had been born while Tom was serving in Vietnam. And how the Silver Star he was awarded had been sent home to his wife, Dianne, before he knew anything about it.
I also shared some of the ways Tom conducted the public’s business, leasing for example such a stripped down car his friends in the state house took to calling it “the cab.” And that was only after they managed to convince him it was okay to lease a vehicle with which to get back and forth from Harrisburg in the first place.
I wrote a lot of things about Tom I had wanted to write for years and was pleased to do it while Tom was still alive. So, short of repeating what I had previously written, what was left to say about him?
Actually plenty, I concluded, by the time I sat down at the computer Monday night. Most of it you can read this weekend in Greater Pittston Progress, but two other things came to mind after the column was submitted. One was Tom’s unusual nickname, “Mock.” The other, his love for his native Hughestown Borough.
Those who know Tom only as Rep. Tom Tigue probably never heard him called “Mock.” But to his high school chums, that’s all he was. I, myself, often had called him “Mock” but never knew the derivation of it. And as is often the case with nicknames, was anticipating no one did. I was wrong.
“Moccasins,” my buddy Michael Caputo said when I asked if he knew. Mike was a boyhood pal and high school classmate of Tom. “He wore moccasins,” Mike said.
It was as simple as that.
Then there was Hughestown. Tom was proud to hail from that little one-square-mile burg and maintained his office there throughout his entire 26-year legislative career.
He often talked of how perhaps once a year someone would stop in asking to be directed to the gravesite of Bucky Harris, the Major League Baseball Hall of Famer who in 1924 as the 27-year-old player-manager of the Washington Senators led them to their only World Series title. That feat earned him the nickname “The Boy Wonder.”
Bucky Harris, a Hughestown native, is buried in a cemetery not far from Tom’s former office. If someone wanted to see the grave, Tom would not just provide directions, he would get up from his desk and walk the person over to the cemetery. Few things, it seemed, pleased him more.
Tom will be laid to rest on Saturday. The funeral mass will be at Our Lady of the Eucharist parish in Pittston. His burial will be in Hughestown. Where else?

Ed Ackerman