(The following is an expanded version of a letter published in the Oct. 23, 2019, issue)
The ties that bind some Tigers indeed run deeper within the building now known as 185 Nassau. Jim Floyd ’69, Regan Kerney ’68, and I felt fortunate to have attended the grand Nassau Street School, and each of us were blessed to have had the renowned Mrs. Potter as our kindergarten teacher!
Mrs. Potter, an older African American woman, had been a much revered teacher in the once-segregated Princeton schools. From her ground floor, left side door, morning kindergarten class, she recommended to Principal Loomis (wife of the First National Bank of Princeton president), my promotion to the third grade. Several years later, Thomas Moore, vice president of the school board and my father, negotiated the sale of the building to the University.
Princeton was all-male when I attended Nassau Street School, so who knew that I would have a sociology class at 185 as a freshman? I would often pop in to visit our former gym where Joe Brown, the renowned sculptor, had a two-story piece in the works facilitated by his use of what was once our mezzanine track and the ropes that hung from the ceiling for our Presidential fitness test. When I met Toni Morrison years later at her office, she was situated in the former offices of Mrs. Kaplan and Mrs. Hoagland, our school nurses. We visited her Atelier on Olden Avenue and she invited my then 10-year-old daughter to come to her office after the reception in our old school yard/playground – the small terrace outside of her office before you get to the parking lot.
My other memory was attending a performance at the Jimmy Stewart Theater in the late ’90s, during which Princeton experienced its first armed bank robbery. It was crazy, as I am sure you can imagine. The police had just killed the robber with a single bullet while he held a hostage with a gun to her head in front of the elevator of the now-Santander Bank.
The performance was over and we thought we’d get some ice cream at Thomas Sweet. The theatergoers poured out unknowingly into a lockdown situation with flashing lights and sirens. The chase was on for an accomplice through the streets of downtown. t was a circuitous ride from 185 to Green Street, where the word was out that he had been seen between the Baptist Church and the Dorothea House. So, we couldn’t get home either! It was an hour sitting in the car with our friends in another very active scene, with helicopter lights sweeping the landscape.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my experiences at the building. They are, after all, very special.