Above: A beautiful view of Cuidad Juárez from El Paso earlier this week. Photo by DLynne Morin.
By mid-1982, Dad’s marriage with Gloria had devolved into crass posturing for litigation in a divorce action. After all, he had plenty of experience as he had been through this experience three times already.
The first had been 32 years earlier, in 1950. His newly wed wife, Pat, returned home one evening to their Beekman Place neighborhood apartment. As soon as she walked in, Bern hung up the phone. “Who are you on the phone with, Dear?” she asked. Oddly, Dad declined to say. It took her a while to find out and it turned out to be her former best friend Connie Richards. Pat had the marriage annulled within a few weeks via an expedited petition direct to the Vatican.
Dad never told me anything about his marriage with Pat. Or Connie Richards, for that matter. I had to find Pat 60 years later to ask her personally. Remember, she was wife number one and my Mom was only the second. Does that make Pat a stepmother? The English language does not have a term to describe our relationship.
In any event, Pat was very annoyed with Bern (and went on to marry four more times herself).
Well, not exactly. But he did, in the 1950s, come up with the idea under which a majority of equity and debt trades today are effected in current financial markets. Not that the markets followed his proposal at the time. Far from it. But with this idea, my Dad did actually see around the corner. Let me explain.
Dad was essentially an inventor at heart. This is what engineers do, conceive of new things. As People’s Exhibit No. 1, consider the following work:
This is the cover of a treatise entitled “Motor Design.” It was his final project for his first year at Cooper Union. Dated May 18, 1938, it concerns engines for boats. Of course boats! What else would a waterman write about?
Built in the 1870s, the Third Avenue IRT was the above ground cousin of the Lexington Avenue IRT subway that runs completely underneath the sidewalks in Manhattan. Towards the end of its days in the 1960s, the remnant of the Third Avenue line in the Bronx was finally designated as the 8 train. However, back in the 1950s, the last decade of service on Third Avenue in Manhattan, the trains were only marked by destination – southbound to City Hall, northbound to The Bronx (Bronx Park or 241th Street).
Vintage elevated lines are a disappearing breed of mass transit. The Third Avenue El was derided as a noisy eye-sore and was hurriedly demolished to placate real estate developers who were eager to rebuild Midtown East. The stated intention was to replace it with the new Second Avenue subway which, unfortunately, was delayed more than 60 years and is still not yet in service today!
On November 17, 1949, Bernard Olcott and his dashing first wife Patricia Terry of Larchmont, New York spend the evening out on the town. It looks like the wide striped banquet seating of El Morocco but Pat tells me that no, they only hung at The Stork Club or 21. In any event, this is one of my favorite pictures of Dad, earnest, engaged, and involved. And looking sharp!
Pat was the first of 5 wives and 5 divorces. The next wife was an import, a young lady from Quebec City, Canada, my mother Michele. Number three was another import, this time Graciela from Guayaquil, Ecuador, mother of my sister Victoria. Like Pat’s, that was another short-lived marriage, lasting about 3 years. Dad returned to domestic varieties for the last two. Gloria from Bay Ridge and Stony Brook, Long Island, mother of my sister Blair. And ending with Rosemary from Washington Heights, NYC (and raised in Metuchen, New Jersey). Dad was a romantic, to be sure, but he was worse than clueless after marriage. In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that he was just plain misogynist. For example, he never ever spoke about his own mother, a mysterious lady named “Patricia Regas.” I use quotes because she was a Lithuanian immigrant (like his Dad) and I have no idea about what her real name was or anything. At all. But more on that later.