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In Memory

Mr. Norm Allen

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03/01/13 01:26 PM #1    

Ken Tashian



Posted in behalf of Phil Fontana



Mr. Norman Allen: some thoughts/memories that come to mind at this time that are meaningful to me.

In my four years in the choir/chorus, around all the other activities so many of us participated in, in the course of his banter between songs during performances/concerts, Mr. Allen used to single me out as his "poster boy" to get other boys to join the choir. Needless to say, the upwards of 100 voice choir had a disproportionately low number of males. So, Mr. Allen was always soliciting for more boys to try out & join. Over the years in his pitch for boys, he would point to me as a Cross-Country runner & Track man, then over the years adding Letterman, Honor Society, & then Student Council President.

My other unique & fond memory was that Mr. Allen & I collaborated together musically. To this very day, the hand written sheet music sits on my piano here in my home this very minute! What transpired was that I wrote a corny old type song/melody & words, having a father deep into Barbershop Quartet singing.

Mr. Allen helped me in response to my plea & wrote out a four-part Barbershoip arrangement for male voices. He did it in "no time flat," a few days later, coming to PHS with my hand done sheet music now with his added four part harmony! What a thrill to this very day! It is a prized possession, as I said, sitting on my piano.

Now you can't beat that as an example of the impact of a teacher upon his student.

03/01/13 02:19 PM #2    

Phil Fontana

BUT THE BEST ANECDOTE ....again about Mr. Norman Allen from Phil Fontana


     Before each big concert...Christmas & Spring Concerts.... the Chorus had a night rehearsal, the one & only time to bring everyone together. All other rehearsals were during the school day in small class size groups built into everyone's schedule as a regular music class.

     Such rehearsals were noisy gatherings of 100 chattering kids, mostly girls & a small contingent of guys. We inevitably brought out the wrath of Norman Allen to,  "Be quiet. Pay attention to my direction." On this one particular such occasion,  we were noisy & really getting on his nerves. In frustration. he upped & said, "Just  be quiet. I don't care if The Pope & General Eisenhower come through that stage door holding hands, doing the Mombo. Just shut up!"

    Well, we rehearsed as best we could...a little quieter.  Then Mr. Allen told the boys to take & break so he could rehearse a while just with the girls.  I told one of the sophmore guys...great guy...wish I remembered his name (must check yearbooks) to come with me!  We went back stage to the drama club's prop & costume area in the right wing of the stage, stage front. I outfitted him with a bishops hat & robe, etc., & me in an army officer's hat & uniform.

   In we went right into the music room/rehearsal hall holding hands & singing loudly, "DADA-DADA-DA, UM! DADA-DADA-DA, UM! " & throwing a hip with each "UM."  Well, pandimonium broke out, laughter to tears. But NO ONE LAUGHED HARDER AT HIMSELF THAN MR. NORMAN ALLEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

06/16/15 02:07 AM #3    

Jane Marzell

I loved you, Mr. Allen! Jane


06/16/15 08:54 AM #4    

Michael Herbert

I enjoyed reading Phil's memory of our Chorus rehearsals. Yes Mr. Allen was my mentor.

He was the reason I went to the Boston Conservatory and majored in Voice & Choral Conducting.

We met on several occasions at the National Music Educators Conferencea over the years. I would

think of him often over my career of a Choral Director in a small town in MA. I am now retired after 36 years of teaching music to Grades 1-12. RIP Mr. Allen

06/16/15 11:46 AM #5    

Nancy Lee Carter

Mr.Norm Allen has been better remembered by me as "Norman Allen" because of the pop song that was going around in the early Sixties in which a girl was singing about her boyfriend, Norman.  Sometimes in class, some of us girls would tease Mr. Allen with short renditions of the "Norman" chorus from that song.  He didn't seem to mind - too much.

I very much enjoyed the music Mr. Allen introduced to us, songs from Broadway shows like "Bye, Bye, Birdie," including the Telephone Song, and the classical "Carmina Burana" pieces.  To this day I never hear parts of Carmina Burana without remembering Mr. Allen's classes, rehearsals for concernts to sing that music and the excitement of performing.  

Norman Allen - Rest in peace.



06/16/15 12:59 PM #6    

Jim George

Phil....loved that story. Of course being in the band and choir did present some logistical issues at times, and you didn't want to get on the bad side of Mr Ryerson either. As time went on I joined a Barbershop chorus in Ridgewood and sang with them for a few years. Great memories.

06/16/15 07:00 PM #7    

Al Gunderson

Norman Allen was a person that I went through several phases in my life with. Some bad and some good.H e wasn't a man with whom you would want to get in his face. First of all you would need a ladder.

I,being President of the Choir, thought I could come and go and do as I pleased. Boy was I in for a surprise when he threw me, almost physically, out for a marking period. Imagine, all As and one F due to me challenging his authority. I lost. I don't think we spoke until after graduation.

I went into the service as I needed to grow up. You do, very fast. I went off to Viet Nam as many of my classmates did and learned a lot about commitment and respect. The day after I returned home, I went to PHS to see Mr. Allen and Mr. Stefaniak, two men I now respected more than ever.

In 1975, the Chorus was entered into the Guinness World Book of Records for singing twenty four hours straight at the Bergen Mall. I was proud of all of them and stopped down several times during that day. In 1975 , past chorus members held a dinner at the high school to honor him.

In 1976, while I was going through some hard times he was there for me. He liked his Rheingold and Knickbocker.

In November of 1976, with Gail alongside him, he performed two Hymns at Sandi and my wedding.

The last time I saw him he had retired, lived in Florida and was going upstate N.Y,. He stopped by the high school and I saw him at a wrestling match.

Norman Allen was a good roll model for both young men and women. Thank you for being part of my life.

I have a question for anyone reading this. Did you ever get singled out by him for hitting a wrong note or something else. If he pointed at you, the person next to you thought he was getting reprimanded. Why? Probably because of the crooked arm. HA HA

Norman you are loved and missed by everyone you touched.


Al Gunderson


06/17/15 03:15 PM #8    

Donna Iraci (Finley)

One of my favorite memories of being in choir is after almost every concert as we were putting away our gear in the choir room,we'd burst into a spontaneous "Ride the Chariot" as if we hadn't already finished a concert!  We sang our hearts out --such was the power of Mr. Allen to instill in us his love of music.  We sang other favorites too, but that one sticks in my mind,  as does the "Chemistry Cantata"  which is how I was able to remember the chemistry theorums.

He always challenged us musically--the Messiah,not only the Hallelujah Chorus, Carmina Burana"--expanding our horizons and inspiring us to do our best,as evidenced by the record we made our Senior year which I still have and listen to on occasion.  I was lucky to have him as a teacher and choir director!

06/17/15 05:14 PM #9    

Sherrie Britcher (Ahrens)

Mr Allen was an awesome man, a fantastic teacher and a very caring human being. We were all blessed to be in His choir and receive training from him, as Donna said he challenged us. I think the thing that really sticks in my mind was how he cried in front of us when it was announced that President Kennedy had been shot. I was in choir that period and everyone was shocked and crying, to look up and see that big teddy bear of a man openly crying made a real impact on me. He was truly someone you could go to with a problem and he would listen to you and then give his opinion but then make you decide what to do. He cared about us and we cared about him. Thank you Mr. Allen for being the person and teacher you were.

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