Every once in a while I come across a story of an East Amwell resident that bears repeating. Such was the strange and uplifting tale of Harold Norbury as told in a Democrat article from 1961.
Born in Ringoes in 1886, Harold Norbury worked on local farms and when he was old enough, joined the New Jersey National Guard, rising to the rank of captain. In 1913 the Guard was dispatched to Wharton, NJ to keep order at a strike bound steel plant. The strikers had destroyed property, derailed cars and even tried to blow up a rail trestle. As Norbury approached a group of strikers to reason with them, several pulled guns and started shooting, hitting Norbury six times. One bullet struck his head, causing him to go blind. Undaunted by his infirmity, he went to physical therapy with great enthusiasm and within a few years was working as a supervisor of rehabilitation at the Veterans Administration in New York City. At the time he lived in Bloomfield and would take a trolley into Newark, take a train into Manhattan and then walk four blocks to his office. All this with no help except a normal cane. He would even travel to Washington, D.C. and Buffalo for business. He said his biggest problem was people were always trying to help him which would throw him off balance.
In 1925 Harold and his brother Cedric moved back to East Amwell and purchased a farm on Bowne Station Road. Blindness did not deter Harold from work – he milked cows daily, pitched hay and did other typical farm chores. He had a remarkable memory and was able to memorize the keyboard on a typewriter and could type letters after only an hour of schooling. Carpentry, gardening and writing poetry were other hobbies that kept him going. In 1946 the farm was sold, Cedric moved out of the the area and Harold and his sister built a house on the corner of John Ringo Road and Larison Lane – and painted it pink! Soon after the article appeared in the newspaper, Harold Norbury passed away at seventy five years old.
By Jim Davidson