The Bernard Olcott Story starts off 2016 with a rewrite of my post “THE LOST WEEKEND” (the original of which I have just removed from this site). When I wrote “THE LOST WEEKEND” last June, I reminisced about a picture of my Dad hamming it up with several friends in a photo booth heavy laden with cultural significance – see above picture. All of which was lost to me since I did not grow up in the 1940s. I shrugged off that photo booth picture, effectively asking if anyone recognized anything about it. Nobody did.
That photo, it turns out, is a window into the New York City of yesteryear. This essay, and the next three will use the above image as a departure point into a black and white world. I’ll take you back to New York City of the 1940s, my Father’s formative years as a newly minted Cooper Union graduate, and you’ll:
- Read about the biggest movie of 1945,
- Ride the El,
- Hear old style New Yorkers interact,
- Learn a valuable lesson at Cooper Union (a venerable institution dating back to the Lincoln Administration),
- Review a mysterious death in 1943 with what little facts are available, and
- Come back to a colorfilled present with a shared activity across time.
Why should you care? Well, somehow you found this blog. Perhaps in riding the El with my Dad, you may see some of yours in him. Maybe you like nostalgic stories about Gotham City which was, in some ways, a completely different city from today’s Big Apple.
It could be that you are intrigued with the backstory of the founding of a business or how the tremendous loss of a parent could leave so little trace behind. I still haven’t been able to figure out what happened to my paternal Grandmother, who passed away during this era.