December 16, 2018

Archive Event Highlight

Holiday Party Kicks Off 75th Anniversary Year

Photo Slideshow >>

The OPC broke tradition from its Holiday Party at Club Quarters in Rockefeller Center for the past several years and returned to its starting place at the Algonquin Hotel. OPC members had unlimited drinks and buffet-style food tables and the opportunity to mingle and tell stories of their time in the field. About 55 members attended this year’s celebration that kicked off the 75th anniversary year of the Club, which was founded on April 2, 1939. George Bookman was the oldest member at 99 and James Brooke traveled the farthest coming from Russia, where he is currently the Russia bureau chief for Voice of America, based in Moscow.

Video: Antonio Rosario; Video/Editor: Lesley Topping

Executive Director Sonya K. Fry welcomed members to the party and gave a brief timeline of the Club’s founding. Nine founding members were guests of the famous literary Roundtable at the Algonquin on April 2, 1939. The first two meetings organized the structure of the club, but it was the first meeting of the OPC membership that gained notoriety. “After collecting $40 dues, disposing of four bottles of whiskey, and bacon, eggs and sausages ‘on the house’ the group of 30 adjourned to the lobby bar for a christening party. …we still owe the Algonquin for considerable broken glass.” (Burnet Hershey, 3rd OPC President). Fry presented the Algonquin Hotel with a mock check for $100 to settled the debt in time for a guilt-free 75th anniversary.

About 16 members took their turn at the microphone relaying stories of reporting and a Russian-theme began to appear. The stories by decade began with Seymour Topping in Moscow in 1960 as The New York Times chief correspondent; OPC Board member Charles Wallace talked about a cold photo shoot at a Russian parade in November 1975; Andrew Nagorski reported from Moscow in 1981 and recalled a humorous story about the unexpected “benefit” of being followed by the KGB for a return flight to Moscow; Patricia Kranz in 1991 wrote the first story claiming the Soviet Union would soon collapse for BusinessWeek; Ilana Ozernoy a Russian-born reporter who is now the coordinator of the Marie Colvin Center for International reporting in SUNY-Stony Brook; and James Brooke who told the crowd to keep their eye on Ukraine and the country’s desire to align with Western Europe and away from the Russian Federation influence. Videos of all speakers and additional interviews with Audrey Topping and Jeremy Main are available at http://youtube.com/opcofamerica.

More 75th anniversary celebrations are being planned for 2014, including a lighting of the Empire State Building using the Club’s signature blue and a special Awards Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on April 24.