McCormick of Rutgers: Scholar, Teacher, Public Historian

By Michael J. Birkner | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 1

The Path to a Life with History

MB: I understand from your entry in Who’s Who that you were born in Brooklyn. 1

RM: Brooklyn communicates something. Actually, I was born in Ridgewood, Queens, which is just over the boundary line from Brooklyn. I was born December 24th, 1916, and was actually born not in a hospital, as people expect today, but at home. My father’s people were Irish; my mother’s people were German. They were very much working-class people. Both my father and my mother left school after the sixth grade—went to work. By the time I was born, my father was a printing pressman working for a large company in Brooklyn, the Robert Gair Company. We lived in a very simple railroad flat in Ridgewood. No electricity, no telephone, no central heating. Very modest circumstances. I attended Public School 93 in Ridgewood, which was just about two blocks away. We lived there until I was ten years old—July 1927. My father’s printing operation was transferred to Piermont, New York. We rented a house in Upper Nyack, which was within easy commuting distance of Piermont. So I attended the Upper Nyack Elementary School, a tiny school where we had two classes to a room. When I graduated [from Upper Nyack elementary school] in 1929, there were thirteen in the graduating class. At that point my father lost his job and obtained another one

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