Love of local history inspires second careers for area residents

Walks: Resting in front of Princeton’s Nassau Hall by local historian Barry Singer, a local historian whose second career was volunteering to lead walking tours and talk about Princeton’s Revolutionary War History speaks, which is a stop on the Princeton Historical Society walking tour.

Wendy Greenberg

Barry Singer retired with a love of history and started a second career. He volunteered walking tours for the Princeton Historical Society, developed history courses, and created a lecture series about Princeton during the Revolutionary War, which he has offered to clubs, libraries, and senior centers. Along the way, he wrote a book, a fictional personal memoir about leaving home during the Vietnam War.

“I’m a case study on how to get lucky in retirement,” he said. He offered this advice: “Do what you really love. You never know where it’s going to lead.”

Singer will speak on “Princeton: The Nation’s Capital in 1783” to the Women’s College Club (WCC) of Princeton on September 19 at 1 p.m. at the Stockton Education Center in Morven. A spokesperson said the WCC is reaching out to new members and welcomes them to the monthly meeting. Since its founding in 1916, the WCC’s mission has been to provide scholarships to local high school girls at Princeton High School, Princeton Day School, Stewart County Day School, and Hun School to help those in need of help getting to college.

Singer’s speech complemented historical imagery, describing how in 1783 the colonies waited for news that the Paris peace talks would result in a treaty, but because of delays in transatlantic negotiations, Congress was unable to disband the military without a treaty. Congress, concerned about the Army mutiny demanding a refund of wages, moved from Philadelphia to Princeton, where he stayed for four and a half months. Singer spoke about what happened at Princeton as it provided the backdrop for the historic events that Congress held in Nassau Hall from June to November of that year.

Other speeches Singer prepared were “Princeton and the American Revolution” and “The Battle of Brooklyn.”

He was excited by what he learned about the battles of Princeton and Trenton. “The most important thing It was the culmination of three victories in 10 days, when all the patriots were disillusioned, they thought the war was over. But the perseverance and bravery of George Washington and the Continental soldiers changed everyone’s perception. The colonists got back on their feet, believing they could win and be free. “

Coming from a completely different environment, Singer worked on Wall Street and as a technology manager at Merrill Lynch until 2005 when he worked “for pay.” He looked around to pass the time, and because he liked walking, he volunteered to lead the walking Princeton tour. He enjoys meeting people from all over the world who take part in the Historical Society’s approximately once a week trip.

Some of his favorite places? “If I had to choose one, my favorites would be Nassau Hall, McLean House and Nassau Presbyterian Church,” he said, choosing three. “The building has a very good relationship with history,” he added.

Singer’s love for military history stemmed from his studentship in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (commonly known as ROTC) at the City College of New York, as well as the military history courses he took. “When I started hiking, I realized how incredible our rich local history is. My love of military history led me to become interested in the Revolutionary War and its impact on Princeton.”

After leading the walking tour for six years, he also realized that not everyone walks well, and developed his lectures in order to bring the rich history to more people. During the pandemic, many people got on Zoom. What started out as five lectures on Princeton and the American Revolution is now divided into one-hour lectures because Singer believes he can “reach more people.”

Singer, who is in his “70s” and grew up in the Bronx, New York, Later moved to Princeton with his family. The Bronx never left his mind, and a few years ago he decided to write a fictional memoir. “I’ve always wanted to tell this story,” he said. “My father died very early and I didn’t know enough about him. So I wanted to tell this story based on my own experience.” Book, Exiting the Bronx: The arrival of middle agethe 60’s During this period Vietnam War, Published in January of this year. It has been accepted by several libraries and soon he will be giving a talk on the book.

The coming-of-age story is about a Bronx resident who never left the Bronx, but he Drafted like Singer and sent to Heidelberg, Germany, the U.S. Army headquarters in Europe. After experiences that included a foray into East Berlin, “as he grew, he transformed. He came home as a different person,” Singer said.

This 283-page paperback is available on “I think a lot of people might like this story,” he said. “Any parent who sees a child leave home and come home has grown up. It’s a story of transformation and triumph,” he said.

The process of writing the book took about 18 months and 6 months before it was published. Singer had a close friend who had just published a book and recommended an editor and jacket designer. While these collaborations are important, his best advice for writing a book is to “make sure you have a real purpose,” he said.

With the book, walking tours and lectures, Singer’s retirement is by no means a retirement. “It was one of the funniest chapters of my life,” he said.

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