I took my first business trip with Olcott International in 1969. Of course, it wasn’t really a business trip as I was only a kid, 11 years old. But it was for my Dad. I tagged along and was on the periphery of a proposed merger of his operation with the patent renewal portfolio of one of Europe’s (and the world’s) largest law firms.
The latter part of the 1960s found me in elementary schools in Orlando, Florida during the school year and then back in New York City with Dad during the summers. Nine months of fourth grade to a kid seems to last at least 500 years with 11 months tagged on. For grades K through 4, I attended Cathedral School near Lake Eola in downtown Orlando in a building that must have looked old during the Roosevelt administration. During the interminable period between September and June every year, I was bored witless. But Dad kept my attention, even when I was far away from him.
In late summer 1972, my Grandfather Michael passed away and he left it to me to find a letter written in the Lithuanian language hidden among his effects. In an earlier post, I described how I found it and secreted it away hoping that it was a link to another part of Europe, locked away behind the Iron Curtain at the time.
I first learned the contents when my roommate Saulius Peter Valiunas at Tufts University, bilingual in English and Lithuanian, read me the letter some 6 years later. It was written by my Grandfather’s niece, Eugenija, (Dad’s cousin) who was writing him cold and out of the blue. It was a perfect introduction to the lost family.
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Olcott, January 1963.
In the spring of 1962, I turned 4 years old. Mom and Dad were living at 1050 Fifth Avenue and Central Park was my playground. In the evening, I would play in my room and when I heard the door open and Dad enter the apartment, I would thrust myself down the stairs, yelling “Daddy, Daddy!” One time I came down the stairs so fast, I tripped and fell. I arrived at the bottom in a tumbled mess.
My Dad would have a seat on the couch, maybe after turning on the hi-fi or plopping the Four Lads on the phonograph. Mom would serve him a Rheingold. “What’s that?” I asked. “Beer,” he said. “Can I try some?” “Sure.” I did, it was not to my taste.
I was oblivious to the fact that the marriage of my Mom and Dad was finished.