Much public acclaim during World War II was accorded Generals Douglas MacArthur and Dwight D. Eisenhower, but Chief of Staff George C. Marshall told FDR how to run the show. Postwar he helped Harry Truman restore Europe through his heroic Marshall Plan. John Norey was the Heyday Chief of Staff at J. Press.
The John Norey–J. Press Saga began at a World War II dance for U.S personnel. New Haven draftee Herman Feen served in the 82nd Airborne landing in Normandy on D-Day. Months afterward he was out of action and evacuated to London prior to the Battle of the Bulge.
At a Cambridge dance for service personnel he spotted the very lovely Ada (Ann) Norey asking her to dance. She was a Wren in the RAF dispatching and receiving teletypes. Her brother, John(ny) Norey was in the British Army part of a comedy troupe entertaining troops in North Africa and Italy.
After courting Ann getting to know her family, tailors in Stoke Newington (the Bronx of East London) Hermie brought her home to his Jewish family on Orchard St. in New Haven.
Ann had been guaranteed a job at J. Press with the help of Hermie’s brother, George Feen, star salesman at the J. Press headquarters store on the Yale campus at 262 York Street. Ann was the first female tailor shop employee at J. Press, finishing & embroidering custom made dress shirts.
Johnny Norey felt virtually imprisoned in depressed blitzed out London after the war and craved joining his sister in America. His dream was realized thanks to sponsorship and guaranteed job as a cutter/tailor at J. Press. Arriving in the States he fortuitously became a boarder upstairs at recently deceased Jacobi Press’ home, also kindly looking after my elderly grandmother.
Possessing Norey tailoring genes, John had an eye for good fabric along with a stiff David Niven upper class English accent that belied his Stoke Newington Dickensian origin.
The Press Boys, Irving and Paul, spotted John’s potential. He almost immediately became doppelgänger to Irving Press, frequently traveling to New York utilizing his British fabric smarts together with his linguistic ability locked for days at a time in the Yale Club co-authoring the J. Press Brochure with his boss.
Named Merchandise Manager in his second year, John became my dad’s key back room guy in New Haven, a peerless “button counter” familiar with every supplier and every aspect of merchandise assuming his self-asserted role as inside CIA man at J. Press.
As my uncle and father wound down and I took over running the business, John assumed roles he played for my father and uncle becoming my own doppelgänger.
The Press Boys (including yours truly) were to J. Press as Robert Kraft is to the Patriots. John Norey was our Bill Belichick.