will be my next post as I attempt to wrap up this phase of The Bernard Olcott Story.
I am grateful to the handful of my Father’s friends who have shown up from time to time to contribute a comment or two on these electronic pages. Whether I agree with their point of view is irrelevant — my Dad touched many people during his life here.
Remember: I wouldn’t be here without him. And you would be reading something much less interesting right now.
Check back next week for AFTERMATH.
By Jeff Flake, a Republican U.S. senator from Arizona. From the Washington Post today.
As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.
On June 9, 1954, during the Army-McCarthy hearings, Welch, who was the chief counsel for the Army, famously asked the committee chairman if he might speak on a point of personal privilege. What he said that day was so profound that it has become enshrined as a pivotal moment in defense of American values against those who would lay waste to them. Welch was the son of a small prairie town in northwest Iowa, and the plaintive quality of his flat Midwestern accent is burned into American history. After asking Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his attention and telling him to listen with both ears, Welch spoke:
“Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.”
And then, in words that today echo from his time to ours, Welch delivered the coup de grace: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
The moral power of Welch’s words ended McCarthy’s rampage on American values, and effectively his career as well.
The rest can be read here. Sometimes enough nonsense is enough.
Today I feature a guest essay by Ned McDonnell while I spend more time writing and editing. Enjoy along with my photo essay of the Chicago L!
My old friend and prep school chum, James Olcott, has honoured me by inviting me to remark on his engaging and insightful series of essays on the life of his extraordinary father, Bernard Olcott (1918-2006).
First and foremost, The Bernard Olcott Story is a cultural blog. The over-riding theme of these essays is the search for authenticity initiated by a son growing up under the long and often dark shadow cast by an extraordinarily successful, mid-twentieth century Horatio Alger type.
Bernard Olcott was not a public figure, but he amassed a significant fortune in his life-time by disrupting the sleepy global patent renewal industry in the can-do era of the 1960s. As Larry Ellison would do twenty years later in coding various operating functions, the elder Olcott computerized the seemingly mundane task of monitoring and renewing intellectual property protections around the world.
As 2016 draws to a close, it’s time for me to thank my readers for dropping by.
Over the course of the year, I’ve managed to serve up the following smorgasbord :
- a whimsical ride on the 3rd Avenue El in lost New York,
- a swig of Mr. Clean,
- strange investments, including one where yours truly played cowboy in the Kansas oil patch,
- a travelogue account of my trip to Lithuania and the Soviet Union in 1985 (complete with a speeding stop),
- an in-depth look at the Olcott family in the 1940s — way before my time,
- the sad passing of my Uncle Ed, alone in paradise,
- my Dad’s contribution to the America’s Cup,
- barnacle scraping — my favorite! (and Geraldine’s!),
- my triumphs and hard times at Olcott International,
and heaps more!
And please don’t drink Mr. Clean!
Huntington Hartford and Andy Warhol. Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair.
A couple of weeks ago, one Sunday evening, I was driving back to my home in New York City from Hunter Mountain in upstate New York. Most of my drive home was spent on the New York State Thruway, the major vehicular artery connecting the city to the state capital, Albany, and then on to Montréal via a continuation called the Northway.
As I approached the New Jersey border (please see my post WHAT’S IN A BORDER) driving southbound, I passed by Schunemunk Mountain on my right and then a succession of some small hills and valleys. I also drove under a pedestrian overpass where I used to play a silly game with my children; the object of the game was to cross directly over the path of an oncoming car and get ‘run over’ (except, of course, you are on the overpass above). Small children love this game – the direct opposite of “don’t play in traffic” – as well as parents with the mind of a small child.
Before crossing the border, I passed through a small dreary rural town called Hillburn. After crossing, the sprawl of suburbanization was immediately palpable.
The last 20 miles took me through the northwest corner of New Jersey. One of my favorite stops is a well-stocked A&P Supermarket in Allendale. Not only does it feature a great selection of grocery items at low prices, but also has an unexpectedly good selection of wines. Like 10 year old Pauillacs, perfect for drinking, which cannot be found in Manhattan (at least not 10 year old ones – damn wine bitches teefed all the good stuff).
To my surprise, I pulled up to see that the familiar A&P moniker that used to grace the façade above the front doors had been replaced by the new name ACME. A&P, a retail business since 1859, alas, was now defunct.
It reminded me of a strange business investment solicitation my Dad received in the early 1980s. In this case, I was not the wingman, but the paddleman. Let me explain.