Oliver C. Drachman, Class of 1923
Businessman, Civic Leader
A businessman. A civic leader. An advocate for better education in Tucson. A member of one of the first families of Arizona. . . And a fantastic gardener. All of these words describe the late Oliver C. Drachman, who was born in Tucson in 1902 and was graduated from Tucson High in the early ‘20’s (he kind of dragged out his senior year).
He probably got his green thumb from his mother who had an outstanding rose garden at the family home on east Third Street (now University Boulevard) and Seventh Avenue. One of his mother’s many ventures was to “rent out” the garden for wedding receptions; another was to “serve” chicken on Sundays to boarders in the neighborhood (primarily Southern Pacific railroad men spending Saturday nights in Tucson, a turn-around stop between Yuma and El Paso).
These and many other daily activities of the family were put into a book, “Chicken Every Sunday,” by Oliver’s late sister, Rosemary Drachman Taylor. The book became a Broadway play, and then a movie, still seen now and then on late-late night TV.
The garden at the El Encanto home of Oliver and his wife Alice started in 1969 on a very small scale. Oliver and his good-friend weekly gardener planted a few pansies and a few petunias. Then, gradually each fall, they would set out another plant or two. Soon they had close to 16,000 individual plants, pansies, petunias, Iceland poppies, candytufts, tulips, snapdragons, ranunculuses and calendulas. Each spring cars and viewers would clog the curving roads in the subdivision, and police would be brought in to direct traffic.
Prior to this unique “community service,” Oliver served the city well. He was elected to the District One School Board in 1948, was named president the following year, and continued on until 1955. (At that time, the board had only three members, gruelingly setting policies that have continued even to this day.
Oliver served on the first commission of the Tucson Community Center, in the 1950’s, and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Arizona Bank and Trust Company (now First Interstate Bank).
For a short time in the ‘20’s, Oliver operated a coal, firewood and kindling business on Fourth Avenue; then he had a root beer stand at the corner of Park and Speedway (at that time several blocks from the UA). His business acumen took off, however, when he entered the laundry and dry cleaning business that his father, Mose, started in Territorial days. Oliver sold that (Tucson Laundry) in 1946, and started Oliver Drachman’s Unit Laundry, then a linen and uniform supply company, and then Drachman Formal Wear, the latter with his son Jim, who still operates it. By the way, Oliver and Alice’s two children, Jim and Anne (Tartual) are both THS graduates. So is Oliver’s cousin, Roy, who commented on Oliver’s attendance at the University of Arizona: “He went for a while (three semesters), but the only course he ever finished, he said, was lunch.”