The Lost Auto-Bio of L-15, Bernard Schatz

I must admit this will be a bit of a teaser.  If you knew Bernard Schatz, L-15, he teased frequently.   The appearances on the Steve Allen show in 1963 under the artistic name of Cheyanne Schatz are the earliest classic example (http://l-15.org/movies_L-15_cheyanne_1960s.htm).  It appears that in 1999 he copyright marked (and probably wrote) part of an autobiography.  I (Daniel Roell, fan & keeper of the L-15 archives) found the hard printed copy recently in December of 2017.

I must say I am gullible easily teased and a great sport.  But Bernard would see me believing him and confess, his compassion prevented him from going on too long “yanking my chain.”  Therefore you must understand the following story was written by Bernard (L-15) in his own style and we will forever wonder about the missing parts.  (Like the negative spaces in the eyes of his sculptures they may haunt us, or whimsically tease us with our own fears.)

Therefore out of compassion to your dear reader, I tell you that this story is only a tease in the way he wrote it and so it is probably true in the facts it reveals.  I believe it explains a lot about the artist and his art.  It can be corroborated by his friend J.C.  I don’t believe she has read this Autobiography yet.  But I recognize it as the background of the brief story Bernard told her just days before his death in July of 2015.    J.C. told me of her conversation with Bernard when she had her last visit with him.  It was then that she helped him have a last conversation with his daughter by phone, reconciling the misunderstandings between father and daughter in a timely way.  And she told me that he whispered to her, “I am a bastard.” So, you’ve been warned!  His own words will draw you in and leave you with many questions unanswered.  Here’s part 1 of “My Life As A Bastard! the memoirs of Bernard Schatz:”

“How I Came to be a Bastard”

A young woman (17 years of age) left New York on her way to enroll in her first year of college.  She decided to stop over at some friends of her mother (her mother Lena had lived in the same village, Dvinsk, located on the border of Poland and Russia, as the matriarch Dora of the family that the young woman was going to visit).

The name of that young woman was Julia.  The names of the members of the family that Julia was going to visit (for a weekend) were:

Dora……the matriarch

Leon……husband of the matriarch

Sylvia, ne Sara……daughter of the matriarch

Milton…….son of the matriarch 

Maurie……husband of Sylvia

What Julia recalled when I was reunited with her after an absence of forty years (fifty years after all of this happened) was that her mind became rapidly befuddled after drinking something that she was given.  She vaguely recalls a rabbi being involved and the members of the family.  What Julia became aware of when her mind cleared was that she had just been married to Milton.

About a year after all of this happened I was born, a son of Julia and Milton.  My name is Bernard.  When I was eleven I became separated from Julia.  We were reunited when I was fifty.  At that time she told me that when she tried to divorce Milton (when I was eleven) she found out that a marriage had never in fact taken place.  That probably accounted for the argument with the rabbi and the family that had targeted her to be the companion of their son.  And so, when I was fifty, I learned that I was an illegitimate bastard.

I forgot to mention above that father Milton, at the time that mother Julia “escaped” from Milton and his family (from California to New York) his family quickly found another wife for him (by the name of Celia).  They left for Pensylvania and were never seen again (by me).  This time it was, I believe, a legal marriage.

I must mention that from time to time in these memoirs certain events will be touched upon that are so painful to me that I will be unable to discuss them.  These events will be indicated by blank spaces, the lengths of the spaces will correspond as accurately as possible with the number of words it would have taken to fill the spaces had they not been so painful to me.  The blank spaces will be enclosed by dots such as:

……………………

Blank Space

……………………..

This is where I leave Bernard’s written manuscript for now.  Part 2 “Earliest Memories” will be in the next publication of this blog.  We may feel and share L-15’s “Cry to Heaven” here in his words and see it in much of his art (www.L-15.org).  But despite his tragic expressions I want you to know that there was a whimsical and compassionate heart beat behind them for nearly 84 years.

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