Have you ever wondered what CCNY was like before you attended? You walk around with the knowledge that it is the oldest school in the CUNY system, yet it is still hard to imagine. Most students at CCNY are surrounded by old buildings, and history but have no real connection to what it truly means.
But here is your chance to hear firsthand what CCNY was like in the 1960’s, when it along with the country was evolving. Norma Rosenblum, still fierce at 68, will tell you that change is good, and even better when you know it was worth it. She entered City College in 1960, and graduated four years later with a degree in history After getting her master’s degree in 1966 also from City College, she spent 35 years working as a teacher of music and art. She retired in 2003. Rosenblum now enjoys going to the opera at Lincoln Center and swimming at the gym. You can find her hanging out in Lincoln Square sharing her knowledge and wit with the people of the neighborhood at local restaurants.
Here, she talks about the college she still loves and describes what CCNY was like back in the day.
What did CCNY give you?
CCNY provided me with a love of truth, scholarship and excellence. I have to tell you sweetheart I was very lucky. I went to school with a lot of brilliant people.
The history department had the most brilliant people.
Like who-who comes to mind?
Our great American historian Barbara Tuckman wrote an article that was on the front page of the New York Times Book Review about how you don’t need a Ph.D. to be a historian, and we were all, you know, arrogant seniors and so our professor said respond to this. So we all wrote letters about how you must have scholarship and you must have your doctorate. So he sent all these letters to her and she invited us to her home this brilliant historian! I remember I wore my black velvet quilted skirt with my pink satin blouse and my satin pumps, and I was the only woman there. Barbara Tuckman was gracious to us, I remember I sat on the floor, we had soft drinks and she talked to us about writing history, this great historian. There we were in her home it was on Park Ave. I’m a little kid from the Bronx ya know. I get on the elevator and the door opens up and there’s only one apartment on the floor ya know they have more than one bathroom and it was very impressive.
What was it like being a woman?
I’m not sure about this but I believe I was either the second or third class of females in the school because the girls’ bathroom had urinals that were covered over with wooden planks. Being the naïve and innocent Jewish girl from the Bronx that I was, I had no idea what a urinal was. …. I didn’t”
What was it like when John F. Kennedy was shot?
When Kennedy was killed I was in the Cohen library on the top floor and classes ended we heard the chimes from Shepard Hall.
How did you meet your husband?
My first husband was David Jaman. He was smart; he was the editor of the paper. All I know is he used to type my papers for me. He used to call me over and say Norma I want you to read that sentence what you laughingly call a sentence. My mother adored him.”
Was school hard?
I wanted A’s and they didn’t give A’s, darling. I actually had professors that just did not give A’s. I was the only A in Oriental Art. I was a serious student. My philosophy was I don’t want to get laid, I’m the only A. You can edit it, I mean, but it’s the truth I didn’t.
Are you still in touch with other graduates?
I was 49, and I was going out with this man who was head of the amateur astronomers club. He was a cameraman who won a couple of Emmys or whatever. A friend of his was an expert on the moon and we were in his kitchen and I said I went to City College and he said yeah, me too. And I said I thought we were really quite exceptional and he said yeah, me too. And I said what class and he said ’64 and I said me too. And he said you know what we were.