We’d all like to think that Nyack is a happening place. But generally speaking, something pretty significant needs to happen in Nyack to get the attention of the NY Times three times in the same week.
Apparently it did — 90 years ago. That’s when the “Clarkstown Country Club” was the home base of Pierre Bernard, a.k.a. “Oom the Omnipotent,” or as the NY Times puts it “the P. T. Barnum of Hudson Valley yoga.”
Bernard is credited with being one of America’s yoga pioneers as well as a philosopher, a mystic and a businessman. He was also known as a con man, a seducer and philanderer. The “swami-entrepreneur [who became] one of the most renowned eccentrics of the Jazz Age” is credited with bringing elephants, airplanes and Little League to Rockland County. He was also he once a bank president in Pearl River, the treasurer of Rockland’s Chamber of Commerce and director of a Spring Valley trust company.
Here are the three articles in the Times about Pierre Bernard last week:
- Iowa Swami Who Beguiled the Jazz Age, a review of Robert Love’s book, “The Great Oom,” 4/14
- An Excerpt from “The Great Oom,” 4/14
- “Spotlight | Nyack: Oom the Omnipotent Was Here,” 4/16
As president of the Nyack Athletic Club, Bernard brought minor league baseball to Rockland County. The New York Times said his team “was known in this part of the state as world champions” with a 25-5 won lost record in an October 27, 1927 story. The 1934 Morris Kantor painting “Baseball At Night” was of a scene from a game at the Sports Centre at Bernard’s Clarkstown Country Club before night baseball made the majors.
The Historical Society of The Nyacks will present an “Armchair Walking Tour” with Grace Gordon, curator of the papers and memorabilia of the Bernard estate at The Nyack Center on Thursday April 22 at 7:30p. On May 15, “The Great Nyack House Tour” will feature homes and buildings relating to Oom the Omnipotent and the Clarkstown Country Club.
- New York Times, 4/14, 4/16
- Historical Society of The Nyacks
- Fad, Follies and Delusions of the American People: A Pictorial Story of Madnesses, Crazes and Crowd Phenomena, Paul Sann
Photo Credit: Life at the Clarkstown Country Club, Historical Society of the Nyacks
“Baseball At Night,” Morris Cantor via Smithsonian American Art Museum