By Karen Cuccinello
Alexander was the Rexmere pool and water carnival director, swim instructor, performer and beauty pageant coordinator from about 1923-1937. He and his family spent their summers in the Catskills and winters in Florida.
Alexander Karl Ott was born August 4, 1888 in Manhattan, NYC to Albert (born 1858) and Elise/Alice (Heuber/Heuberger born 1858) Ott. Both of his parents came to the USA in 1883-84 from Switzerland. He had one older sibling, Albert Arthur, born May 25, 1885. The whole family sailed from Holland to Ellis Island in 1893; I suspect they visited Switzerland. In the Manhattan census report Albert Sr. listed as a cook in 1900 and a saloon proprietor in 1910.
Alexander joined the Naval National Guard in 1909, listed as a sailor on a training ship in the 1910 Manhattan census and was a member of the 1912 USA swim team, probably diving. He was putting on diving exhibitions off a 70 and 90 foot board in 1915. On March 6, 1917 he married Grace Sutton (born about 1887-1971) in FL. In his 1917-18 WWI Registration card Alexander is living in Denver, CO, occupational lifeguard and his description was: short and stout, blue eyes and brown hair. The Otts were still in Denver, where their son Jack was born, in the 1920 census. From the 1930 census forward their address was Miami, FL.
In 1924 he coordinated the Catsklll Mountain beauty contest, which ran for a number of years, but in reality his wife Grace really did all the legwork. Alexander broke a record at the Rexmere pool by staying underwater for five minutes and eight seconds in 1926. The last mention I found of him managing the Rexmere pool was 1937. In 1939 he coordinated a program at Jones Beach Maritime Stadium, LI.
Excerpts from a 1987 article by Susan Peterson in The Historical Associations of Southern Florida Update – They say Jackie could swim before he could walk. Alexander produced watershows at the Miami Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables from 1928-1942 and Jack was one of the performers. The shows had alligator wrestling, comedy skits, vaudeville acts, beauty contests, fashion shows, high dives from 90 foot tower, 85 foot fire dives that Jackie often did, waltzing in the water and greasy pole walking. Grace organized everything and was in charge of the beauty contestants and fashion show models; she was often a model herself. Jack supposedly graduated from University of Miami in 1942 (I could not find him in online yearbooks) and then joined the Naval Air Force and became a pilot during WWII, he returned to Miami and became the supervisor of pools for the city of Miami for 28 years. He was married four times (in the 1940 Miami census his wife is Doris) and had five children. Before Jack left for the service he built his father a 28 foot sport fishing boat named Shark. The boat led Alexander into a new career as a charter captain specializing in shark fishing and a new title of Captain. Alexander died December 1970 in FL.
Photo from Stamford Village Library.