Fighting On A Different Front: Gerald Malamud (‘45)

Gerald Malamud (‘45) is a 96-year-old Stuyvesant alumnus whose experience at Stuyvesant, an all-boys school at the time, was defined by World War II.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cover Image
By Lenny Metlitsky

Name: Gerald (Jerry) Malamud

Age: 96

Date of Birth: November 21, 1927

Graduation Year: 1945

Occupation: Factory Manager (retired) and Hospital Volunteer

Gerald Malamud (‘45) was a student from a poor family with a Stuyvesant experience made unique by World War II. Malamud described his Stuyvesant class as contributing in many ways to the war effort while still having “no future to look forward to” because they knew they “were going to go to the military.” Indeed, Malamud was drafted shortly after enrolling at the City College of New York (CCNY). In the military, he ranked highly in standardized tests and received direct orders from Washington D.C. to report to the Adjutant General’s office for training. “At the training, I never even opened the books. I knew all the answers in the academy before even opening them. It was stuff I learned at Stuyvesant,” Malamud said. 

While Malamud’s time in the military is certainly impressive, he managed to receive an honorable discharge after only one year of training by re-enrolling in CCNY. He didn’t enjoy CCNY as much as he wanted to, but he couldn’t afford to go to New York University—the college of his dreams. He decided to transfer to the University of Southern California, which he found a lot more enjoyable, and graduated from there. Afterwards, he worked in and later managed a textile factory that produced uniforms, a job he held for the entirety of his career. After retiring, he spent 25 years volunteering at the emergency room of his local hospital, Cedars Sinai Medical Center. While Malamud describes himself as an average student, he can still remember the details of his Stuyvesant experience and everything he learned, even at age 96. From his impressive military ranking to his career and volunteer work, Malamud achieved significant accomplishments—and he attributes them to his Stuyvesant education. 


What was your time at Stuyvesant like all those years ago?

Well, I was an average student. I set the curve in mathematics and physics, but I could not pass Spanish, and I couldn’t pass Chemistry. I got 65s every semester, and they made a mistake promoting me instead of flunking me. When I went to Stuyvesant as a freshman, World War II was [going] on in Europe, and in my freshman year in December, we had the attack at Pearl Harbor. We knew we were at war and everything changed—school, a united New York, and everything else. It was a completely different thing. We had a very unusual high school experience. [...] Half of our graduating class left early to go into the military. The Army specialized training program went [to us], and a lot of the students in their senior year enlisted.

Did you contribute to the war effort during your time at Stuyvesant?

Yeah, we did. In the woodshop, we made model airplanes for the United States government that they could use in New York [for training]. At that time they were training aerial gunners for the B17 to the B24s, and they would use these to simulate both our airplanes, the German airplanes, and the Japanese Zeroes. [Also,] I took a machine shop class where we made small instruments for the effort.

Did you end up getting drafted yourself?

I did six months at [CCNY]. My parents had no money, but I could afford to go to CCNY, the engineering school uptown. I got drafted two or three weeks after [the war was already over] and I turned 18, and I was in the army for a year. What got me out of the Army was that there was a strange rule, which nobody ever heard of but I found by reading army regulations, that said if you were readmitted to a university, you could get out of the army, no matter how long you served. So I got back to CCNY.

How was your short experience in the Army?

My first week in the army, they gave us some tests. I did very well, I found out later. [...] I received an army special assignment where [my] orders [came] from Washington D.C. On the test that I took, it turns out I breezed through it with stuff that I knew that I had learned [at] Stuyvesant for the Regents. I was being reassigned to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, to the Adjutant General’s department. I graduated top of the class to the Adjutant General’s department with the people [that] we had, [who were] sensational, [as the class consisted of] top picks of all schools and colleges over the United States. I found out that the reason that this all happened [was] because I scored extremely high on this army general classification test.

What was your career like?

[My wife and I] looked at each other in the middle of a snowstorm on some train on the elevated subway that was stuck because of the snow. We said, “What the hell are we doing in New York?” We both quit our jobs and flew to California. My brother-in-law over there had an [American] uniform business, where I went to work. I spent most of my time in the clothing and textile business. I closed the business after 25 years because it was a unionized factory and we couldn’t compete anymore with the non-union factories in Los Angeles.

How has your retirement life been?

Well, I retired. Afterward, I volunteered at a local hospital: Cedars Sinai Medical Center for about 25 years in the emergency room there. My mother was taken into the hospital, and I ran into one of the volunteers, who was very nice to me, to find out what happened to my mother and where she was. So I said, “Well, what is this volunteering?” [The volunteer] said, “This is a great volunteer office. Apply and they’ll talk to you.” [...]. Later, [a lady in the office] said, “Can you come in early?” And I said, “Yeah, I can come in very early because [at] my clothing factory, I used to come in at 6:00 a.m., so it’s no problem.” So I went to work there. That took care of my retirement and would keep me pretty busy.