This is my father, Bernard Rotmil, as a young man. He told me that this picture was taken at a charity event in Greenwich Village while he was a student at NYU, likely in the early 1950’s, although I’ve never been sure of the time frame. His childhood was fractured by the upheavals of WWII. So, as a budding US citizen, his course in higher education, mixed with a few years in the US Army, made him a bit late in the college curve compared to most of his contemporaries.
I’ve been looking for this photo for a few years now, scouring every photo album and box of personal belongings I took with me when my father passed away four years ago. Yet, my searches came up short. Nothing. I thought this photo would be lost forever, only living in the recesses of my memory.
This morning, while watching CBS Sunday Morning, a segment about World War II came up. It reminded me of my dad, of course. He was a child running away from Hitler and the Nazi’s before he found asylum in the U.S. as a teenager, living with his German aunt and uncle in Peekskill, New York. I went over to my bookshelf and pulled out his old high school yearbook from 1947. As soon as I opened the book, this photo fell out. Relief. I shed a few tears. My father’s sweet nature showed so clearly in this shot.
Just this morning, an old email chain between me and my Uncle Charles (my father’s brother) with the subject: “Dad and Books Photo” came up. A few months ago, I asked him about this photo, and if he had seen it in the old leather suitcase that belonged to dad. The suitcase contained old birth certificates and photos, and my uncle wanted it due to the personal nature and historical items he shared inside.
Ironic that on a morning where I discovered this picture, my old inquiry to my uncle about this very picture would pop up. But nothing is coincidental when it comes to fate and love.