My Dad and I, Christmas Day 1961 at our apartment, 1050 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
My Dad and I, Christmas Day 1961 at our apartment, 1050 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Gather ye round oh my sisters and brother and marvel ye at this tale of advancement, defeat, wives, ex-wives, pharmacy returns, free parking, world-wide business, technology, ludditism, glory, America’s Cup, stock market crashes, elevated subway trains, and dust.  Something for everyone.

This blog is about a real life Horatio Alger – the real deal – my father Bernard Olcott.  My Dad was a charming, funny, and lucky man.

What I like best about my Dad was his sense of humor and high regard for education.  Oh yes, Dad had a funny bone.  A big one.  I struggle to fill it every day.  Also, it must be appreciated that education was the key to his escape from an unhappy, dismal, and poor household.  These are the family values and legacies – clearly deriving from my Dad – that I choose to pass along to my own children, the next generation of Olcotts.  And they get it.  Big time.

But back to the 35,000 feet high summary of my Dad’s life.  He was born into a very modest Lithuanian immigrant family household in Jamaica, Queens on August 25, 1918.  His father, né Mikas Arlauskas, left Varena in impoverished Lithuania in 1914 and arrived at Ellis Island, New York as “Michael Olcott.”  As there is no record of his marriage in New York City, I believe he arrived already married to “Patricia Regas” (her real maiden name was Ragazhinskas).  He joined the NYPD as a patrolman, and fathered 2 sons, Edward and Bernard (in that order).

After graduating from Jamaica High School, Bernard traveled to Palestine as a merchant mariner, graduated from Cooper Union with honors in Electrical Engineering, married society girls, divorced five times, wrote four or more patents, traded a letter with Albert Einstein and Bernard Baruch, created a lucrative international business by way of his innovative patent annuity tax payment service, and then suffered terribly with dementia to the extent he lost a good deal of his personal fortune to theft.  Bernard Olcott passed away in Palisades General Hospital in North Bergen, New Jersey on December 30, 2006.

As of this writing, February 6, 2017, the Estate of Bernard Olcott has still not closed.

His life story is of course of great interest to his own family – me, and my two sisters – but combine these different elements of amazing success together with the ravages of age, it is just possible that his story is of general import as well.  Or at least evocative of the rascal in everyone’s family.  If an immigrant’s son can make good like this, then maybe there is hope for all of us.  And if he can lose so much of it, perhaps there is a cautionary tale here for which careful note should be made.

On these pages, I will try to make sense of it all.

BO JBO in Weehawken 1983

My Dad and I, Summer 1984, on the Weehawken, NJ waterfront.

Copyright © 2015, 2016, 2017 by James B. Olcott

All posts, writing, images and information on The Bernard Olcott Story should be assumed to be copyrighted to James Olcott — except for many uncredited images which are public domain and much historical content which draws on Wikipedia as a resource. No part or parts are to be used and/or duplicated in any medium without written permission from the author. All rights reserved. Kindly ask my permission first, which is liberally granted, before you borrow from The Bernard Olcott Story.

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11 comments

  1. Hi James,
    Great blog! When you write your book, add more detail about Olcott International and its industry.
    By the way, my cousin is in the process of patenting his risk management software. It takes forever to go through the process. It has been in process for at least 3 years! I sent him the Olcott international link, as he is also filing international patents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been enjoying reading all about James Olcott’s life growing up and travels with his father. The stories conjure up feelings of nostalgia and memories, like looking at old, sentimental faded photographs. My favorite quote is “A life lesson I have carried from my experiences in France is not to waste your time with the “nothing” people. Rather, endeavor to spend your time finding and being with the “all” people.” Great thought! I shall remember to find those “all” people. James Olcott’s blog is entertaining, well written and worth publishing as a memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

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