Today, my x-rated repeat from 2 years ago about Dad’s 4th wife. She was a beauty! Her Mom (my Step-Grandmother, as it were) was also blessed with much largesse; this included a sense of humor. Once at the Christmas table, she told a story about how she had changed her shirt and brassiere in front of a neighbor’s 4 year old boy. She thought nothing of it; he was very young. “Addie,” the boy exclaimed, wide-eyed, “you have TITS!” Addie wasn’t able to stop giggling after recounting that tale. To tell ya the truth, neither could I. Enjoy! Over 18 only, please.
As explained in my post SURPRISE!!!, gosh was I ever! A new step-mom. I didn’t really get too anxious about meeting my new step-mom because I didn’t have time – it was to be in 3 days! Her clothes were in the closet. She had already traveled with Dad to Brazil and Japan. Silk wedding gowns adorned the walls.
So Gloria joined our small Olcott nuclear family. This meant that whenever we went out for a road trip, which was often – and something I continue to do to this day between Québec and North Carolina – I had the pleasure of her company in the car. Gloria was an excellent conversationalist. And we tested each other right away.
The author, Gloria, and Dad. Photo by Addie Lundberg.
Something else was new for me. Up until the Gloria years, I came back to New York City region only during summers. In December 1971, I hopped a plane to come up North for my first snowy Christmas since 1961. Ten years for a 13 year old is a long time; I had forgotten what snow looked and felt like, in its various forms.
This week, another repeat. This is the second most popular post on my site (after “WHAT’S IN A BORDER“) and I have to say it’s really gratifying.
Because this one is all about my Dad in his prime, at the top of his game. When he could do no wrong. It’s me in kvell-mode. Well, all right, three failed marriages by this time already. Nobody’s perfect, even critics.
But in a certain sense, he was really only married once.
I’ll have a new, fresh story from this time period shortly. And I’ll be back to those wretched investments in the mid-1990s before too long.
This week we go into why my Dad is famous, at least in the patent profession. The next three posts are about his greatest number one hit in the charts. And it’s big!
As you know by now, dear reader, Dad was married five times to five different women. But in a certain way, Dad was really only married once. It was not to a lady wearing a dress and lipstick (though there were more than a few of those around) but to a business soon to be called “Olcott International & Co.” It was his life, and his masterpiece, just as the Mona Lisa was to Leonardo da Vinci. (He greatly admired Leonardo and thought of himself easily as da Vinci’s equal). He could share this one true wife with no one and he guarded her with a jealous Latin-blooded fury. (As I and others would haplessly come to learn.)
This post continues the story from the last two week’s posts, “MINOU’S PREDICTION” and “REPRIEVE DENIED!“
Yoshi marched outside with me hot on his heels. We took our positions out in the middle of Hackensack Plank Road like Hamilton vs. Burr almost 2 centuries before, me facing north, with the actual dueling grounds maybe a half mile away to my right. Yoshi was uphill from me looking south towards “The Shades” neighborhood of Weehawken, always in afternoon shadow at the extreme southern end of the Palisade Cliffs.
Fists raised, we glared at each other.
“C’mon James, take your best shot!” Yoshi taunted, lowering his arms and motioning me to take a swing. We started circling around each other like boxers, ready to land or parry a blow.
This post continues the story from last week’s “MINOU’S PREDICTION.”
“E-A-S-Y!” I said to Yoshi on the phone, “It’s just a report.”
It was February 3rd, 1994 in Weehawken, New Jersey. It was rapidly turning into a bad day.
The line was, however, already dead. Behind me, I heard and felt a massive weight flying up the stairs from the basement. In an instant the door burst open, and there was Yoshi in my face, ranting and raving. Again, he repeated the line about me abusing my family name; just because it was “Olcott,” I had the right to treat others poorly.
Strange how that never occurred to me. If he only knew what my last name really entitled me to!
But how could he, of course?
In any event, I saw an apoplectic 250 pound man in front of me, acting like he just got sprung from Dannemora, smashing his fist in his other hand repeatedly, all the while screaming at me. He wasn‘t just angry. This was harsher than the “if you want my sneakers, take ‘em” stare. This was “your ass, his foot.” I was being threatened. Physically.
At least, I was used to being shouted at.
The Adirondack Northway is one of America’s spectacular highways. I’ve driven it many times between New York City and Canada, usually en route to a ski vacation in the North Country.
It winds its way along the foothills of the High Peaks region. If you look over your left shoulder while driving north, you can make out the pyramid-shaped summit of Mt. Marcy looming in the distance, just as Mt. Everest (or Chomolungma, “Goddess Mother of the Mountains” to Mujibhar and his family in Nepal) towers over surrounding peaks on the other side of the world. Eventually, you arrive at the border, where I have already given advice on negotiating customs and border formalities.
Before most remaining gaps in the interstate highway were plugged in the 1960s, if you wanted to drive to Montréal from New York (or Weehawken, for that matter) in the 1950s, you would follow an older (obviously) 2 lane highway called US Route 9 as directed on your foldable Esso highway map (the one that said ‘Happy Motoring’ next to the tiger).
By 1994, I was not only loading patent data into 3 different Patent Management Systems (“PMS”) – one for DOS, a second for Windows, and a third for Mac – and going on the road to demo them, I was also seeking ways to leverage business trends of the day to the marketing advantage of Olcott International.
However, as my readers well know, I operated under some daunting limitations – I knew that if I went out on a limb in terms of my non-existent authority, I could be subjected to painful rebukes in front of the employees. My last name offered me no protection from the boss; it merely singled me out for extra abuse. After all, the family name didn’t save anybody from getting trolled in Jamaica (Queens, not the West Indies) in the 1920s, 1930s, or afterwards. Not by a long shot.
Getting poorly paid to do little in your job is akin to a short-term stay in a shabby motel room on the outskirts of Hell. You don’t know when or to where they will move you, but you’re sure to like it less.
(Not necessarily in that order.)
One day in 1993, my Dad came downstairs to the “computer department” at Olcott International somewhat agitated. He was upset that a function called “Prior Art” was not included in the patent management software. There were plenty of blank looks all around. “Prior Art? What’s that?” and “Why didn’t we know about this before?” were suddenly questions that hung in the air like old party balloons.
“You dumb bastards!” Dad shouted at the programmers. “You don’t know anything about patents!” At least not like him; after all, he was a high priest, a “made” patent attorney.
Bob Gerhardt took a shot at resolving the problem. “Bern,” he grunted as he worked that wad of gum in his mouth, “We can add Prior Art information in the header text field.” Reasonable, that.
Dad shot back, “Is it labelled ‘Prior Art’?” Although his knowledge of software was surprisingly spotty, he knew full well the answer to that question.
Bob grunted again, softer this time, “no.” He was beaten, again.