January 9, 2013

Remembering General Norman Schwarzkopf As a Playful Fifth Grader at Nassau St. School

To the Editor:

I just read the notice of General Norman Schwarzkopf’s passing and it brought back a flood of childhood memories. Is there anyone else in town who remembers Mrs. Baum’s fifth grade class in 1945? It was in the old Nassau Street School, upstairs on the back side of the building.

Two new boys joined the usual kids that year — Norman and someone named Joel. I think they both lived near Hibben Road. Norman and I struck up a friendship. We were assigned to make the scenery for a play the class was putting on; each class was responsible for two assemblies a year. Our play was Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. We got big orange crates from the Acme Supermarket across the street and cut out paper jugs to put on the vertical standing crates so the thieves could hide behind them. There were great rolls of brown paper in the halls that you could roll out, cut and paint on. We were allowed to make the scenery by ourselves in the hall. I remember that we laughed a lot and got to know each other. I had a part in the play — Cassim’s wife — and had to pretend to cry when Cassim was killed. Norman would stand in the wings and make funny faces at me.

Norman was a large boy. He was well liked by all the kids even though he was new and bigger than most but always gentle and modest. When good weather came in the spring, he started waiting for me after school and walked me home. It was about a mile and we laughed a lot. He wouldn’t stay, just said good‑bye and walked on home. I liked him a lot and when the year ended, I looked forward to sixth grade when I’d see him again. Sixth grade came but Norman didn’t. I heard he was going to a military academy in Bordentown. I was sad.

Barbara Brickley Dollard

Elm Ridge Road