The Transition — Questions? 1962-1965
Norman Jr. entered Law School at Vanderbilt that fall (1962). President John F. Kennedy gave the 1963 Convocation Address there on May 18, 1963. Among others, Norman Jr. became friends with John Russell, Joe Myers, Chuck Cherry, and Albert Noe, all law students who had begun classes in the fall of 1963. Myers, Russell, and Cherry had already done a summer of boot camp with the Marine Corps Reserve that year, and Joe in particular has told me he was convinced that his own Law School performance benefited significantly. We do not know why, but Norman Jr. did not do well in Law School and ultimately left the program in 1965 due to poor grades. Could it have been an aftereffect of the Kennedy assassination, if JFK meant a lot to Norman Jr. as a national leader and symbol? I do not know. But we do know that Norman Jr. first reported for a physical in September, 1964, at Naval Recruiting Station-Nashville, in order to be considered for Officer Candidate School (OCS) in the Naval Reserve. He was not directly accepted for Naval OCS, he left Law School in 1965 and taught English and French at Haywood High School over the 1965-1966 academic year, and he also assisted Coach Russell Lindsey with the freshman football team that fall. From Mack Thornton, sophomore student in Norman Jr.’s English class, "I think everyone recognized his brilliance and wit and couldn’t get enough of it…. I remember John Hamby (nicknamed 'Toad') squashing a wasp on a window, and the rest of the class was devoted to 'the life of a wasp'…." Norman Jr. returned to the Marine Corps Recruiting Station-Nashville on April 1, 1966, for a second physical and was found to be qualified for Officer Candidates School in the Marine Corps Reserve. What was driving this plan? I do not know.