November 22, 1963 (Part III): A tip of the hat to Mr. Norregaard


JFK was dead, Oswald was dead, and we carried on.

We went back to school, and one week later I had one of the most important moments of what would become my career. So pull up a seat, kids, and I’ll tell you all about Mr. Norregaard, the best teacher I ever had, and what happened when I violated one of his ironclad rules.

Martin Rudolph Norregaard taught English and Social Studies to 7th and 8th Graders at Brooklyn Friends School. He was likable and funny and no-nonsense. He expected excellence – demanded it, really – and made sure you knew he would settle for nothing less.

He taught us how to write. And not just how to put words on paper, but to labor over them and make sure you got them exactly the way you wanted them.

He taught us grammar and punctuation and usage. He taught us that sentences had structure, that they were a mathematical equation of sorts. And he taught us to diagram sentences, a lesson that is pretty much gone now, and not to anyone’s benefit. He taught us how to put on paper a visual display of how every word in a sentence related to the others. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions . . . They all work together. Mr. Norregaard was a drill sergeant of diagramming, and if you were in the 7th or 8th Grade at BFS, you were going to learn it whether you liked it or not. Continue reading

Forever young


Forever young

From Carl Cannon’s Morning Note in Real Clear Politics today:

Today would have been John F. Kennedy’s 96th birthday. It’s hard to think of JFK as an old man. In our minds he is forever youthful because he died young. He was only in his first term as president – and the father of young children – when he was cut down by an assassin’s bullet on that grim November morning in Dallas.

But on this day, in 1917, Rose Kennedy gave birth to the second of her nine children at home on Beals Street in Brookline, Mass. His older brother, Joe, had been named after the patriarch of this Irish-American clan; and the matriarch of the family named her second son after her own father, John Francis Fitzgerald – “Honey Fitz,” a former U.S. congressman, beloved Boston mayor, and devoted Red Sox fan.

They would call the boy Jack.