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Norris Solomon, a really good person

Sunday, December 2, 2012
In this March 2, 1973 photo, then ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, left, presents Mervyn Crichlow, centre, and Norris Solomon with maps and tickets for travel to Germany.

Norris Solomon and I began our careers at the now defunct Trinidad Mirror in the mid ’60s. We eventually worked at the southern bureau of the Trinidad Guardian with a cadre of very experienced journalists, all of whom are now deceased—the venerable John Alleyne, Milton Bartley, Hammond Koylass and Mikey Mahabir.



In 1972 we both attended an advanced course for newspaper editors at the Institute for Journalism in Berlin, Germany where we shattered a few records—academic and otherwise. I’ll forever remember the wonderful weekends we spent travelling through (East and West) Germany and Norris’ culinary skills.



On our return, Norris spent most of his career at the Guardian and eventually at the Newsday. On my last visit to his home his illness left me emotionally devastated. May he rest in peace.


What is it that we remember when we think of Norris Solomon?
I believe that everyone who knew him very well would agree it was his passion to get the news story and after that to go get a drink…and usually it was a strong drink! Norris had lots of stories to tell.


I have known Norris for 46 years. I know some of his secrets and his accomplishments. I know that when he stopped writing and editing for our newspapers the news became uninteresting to read. When he retired from the Trinidad Guardian he told me he wanted to improve a weekly newspaper. He ended up at the Newsday newspaper where he told me the job of a rewrite journalist was tedious and frustrating as a result of the quality of untrained talent entering the newsroom.


We lost a very special journalist. I got to know Norris when in the mid ’60s we were selected among six people to undergo intensive training in newspaper journalism under Mr Max Hoades, an Englishman at the now defunct Trinidad Mirror Newspaper. Ken Thomas (Isaac Radio) who recently passed, was among the six.


Several years later, we wrote for the Trinidad Guardian under the venerable John Alleyne at the San Fernando Bureau. The job was exacting, time-consuming, did not make us rich—but we found our niche. After writing our day’s stories Norris, along with (the late) Milton Bartley and others, headed to the watering holes where we spent many happy hours discussing every topic under the sun.


Several years later, Norris and I earned scholarships to study newspaper journalism at the Institute for Journalism in Berlin, West Germany. There we studied with 28 other newspaper editors from the Middle East and several African nations. In the final examinations we topped the class. I eventually went to the USA where I studied journalism, business communications and international relations.


What was remarkable about Norris was his joie de vivre...his joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of travelling…there was not a town or village in Berlin that we did not visit. Each weekend—rain, snow or sunshine—as long as the subway trains travelled there, we explored the community and sampled the local beer and sausages.


At the end of our training in Berlin we travelled the length of West Germany, from Bavaria in the South through Stuttgart, Bonn and onto Frankfurt. I was concerned that as a result of friendships established there Norris may not have returned to Trinidad.


Norris remained in newspaper journalism and I moved on into other aspects of communications. We kept in touch. I remember the date he told me his poor health did not allow him to continue active journalism. On my last visit to his home his illness left me emotionally devastated. I remembered him in my prayers. Norris did not get the recognition he deserved for the quality work he did. May he rest in peace.


This is not the time for us to grieve his death… it’s our time to celebrate his life and legacy. Norris always wanted to make everyone happy. So at this time...let’s all think back and remember how he touched our lives. How he made us laugh and how good Norris was as a person. We will all meet Norris Solomon again and he’ll make us laugh in tears again.


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