Andy Warhol, Clark candy, and the Pittsburgh flood

My father John Warhola was Andy Warhol’s older brother. He had so many wonderful stories of what it was like growing up as one of the “Warhola” boys. He would talk about the good times, the bad times, and everything in between. One of my favorite stories was the one about the 1936 Pittsburgh flood, the D. L. Clark Company (the candy company known for Clark bars), and what is now The Andy Warhol Museum. You might be thinking, how are all of these connected? Well, let’s find out.

Photograph of Andy Warhol as a young boy about eight years old.

Andy Warhol as a young boy, at about the age of 8, ca. 1936, © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

So dad told me the tale of how a story was circulating around their Oakland neighborhood after the 1936 Pittsburgh flood. The story was that the Clark candy company was throwing out candy bars because they had been contaminated by the flood. When Paul, John, and Andy heard of this, they decided to venture down to the North Side to see if they could get any of the “free” candy. As young boys, they were not concerned about the safety of the candy. Fortunately, when they got to the Clark candy company, they realized that this was in fact just a story, with no truth.

Disappointed, they started their journey back to Oakland, on foot, of course. By this time Andy was already very tired; it had been a long walk from home (more than two miles from Oakland, through downtown, and across the bridge to the North Side). He looked to his older brothers to give him a “horsey,” allowing Andy to straddle their backs and have one of them carry him. Both Paul and John were equally tired and suggested that Andy just rest on the steps of the building they were passing. Andy did sit on the steps of that building at 117 Sandusky Street, a warehouse built in 1911 for Frick & Lindsay (supply distributors for oil wells, steel mills, and mines), and now the home of The Andy Warhol Museum.

Donald Warhola

Donald G. Warhola is vice president of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and its liaison to The Andy Warhol Museum, where he works in the education department as a Warhola family historian.

  • http://www.splitfeathers.blogspot.com Lara Trace Hentz

    (SWOON) I love this