Irving McKane "Mickey" Nussbaum
PVT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : HQ & Service Co
Born 1922 in NY, Died 1991
County of residence at enlistment: Kings County, NY
Other residence(s): Keene, NH; Brooklyn, NY
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: Pratt 3 years
College education after the war: Columbia
Irving "Mickey" Nussbaum was born on January 26, 1922 in Sheepshead Bay, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. His father was a musician who played in big bands throughout the northeast; he'd emigrated from Poland/Russia. (Mickey's grandfather and uncle were also band musicians.) His mother's maiden name was McKane, and eventually he changed his name to Irving Nussbaum McKane. He was an only child; a sister born three years before him had died shortly after birth.
Mickey studied at Pratt for three years before the war. He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942 and enlisted on October 16 of that year. He was one of a large cadre of Pratt students who found their way into the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion of the Ghost Army. His army records indicate that his expertise was in stage design, architectural drafting, industrial design, costume design, and color theory. Once in the Army, he handled bookkeeping, payroll, and other administrative tasks.
Mickey's son Keith describes his father's experience during the war: "Mickey's mother died during the first year of his military duty. Although this must have brought great sadness to his thoughts of those years, he always chose the humorous anecdotes when mentioning his time in the Army. Mickey spoke of the foibles and frustrations of inflatable armaments, including the 'flaccid' nature of tank and artillery barrels in the cold of early mornings. His letters home to his father from various locations during his tour of duty referred to local architecture, the damage wrought by the Germans, and the highs and lows of available restaurant fare. . . . He held a quiet pride in his contribution to the US war effort."
After he was discharged from the Army with the rank of T/SGT, he returned to school—this time to Columbia where he earned BS and MFA degrees. While at Columbia he met Priscilla Mills, a teacher from Keene, NH, who was working on an MA in Social Studies. They married on May 22, 1948, and Mickey's Army buddy Bill Blass served as one of the groomsmen. The young couple settled in Brooklyn.
Mickey started his career working for C. Eugene Stephenson Interior Design, designing and decorating interior settings for many large national accounts. He also worked with famed theatrical and industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes on a scale model reenactment of the Battle of Midway which was featured in Life magazine.
In the early 1950s the McKanes moved to the Keene, NH area and purchased a gift and antique business called The Stage Coach. Together they operated what Keith McKane calls "a delightfully-successful gift and antique destination" for 25 years. Mickey also ran interior design advertising campaigns for Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
Mickey and Priscilla became the parents of three sons: Morgan, Jon, and Keith. Keith says that his father was "a well-read and sharp conversationalist as well as a warm and loving husband and father."
Mickey loved building dollhouse furniture and designing wall displays for The Stage Coach. He often sketched room decor ideas and made them a reality in his home.
He was deeply committed to the Monadnock Lions Club, serving several years as club president. He was selected as "Lion of the Year" in 1977. He was also a member of the Historical Society of Cheshire County. (Many years later, in May, 2021, the Historical Society would mount an exhibit of Mickey's artwork and scrapbooks from his Ghost Army years.)
He died on November 22, 1991 and is buried at the Village Cemetery in Fitzwilliam, NH. Fitzwilliam was Priscilla's hometown, and they share a plot with her parents.
1942 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1948 engagement announcement in Brooklyn Daily Eagle; includes education details
1948 marriage record
1948 article in Boston Herald re marriage (Bill Blass as usher)
1958 Keene NH city directory
1960 article in Manchester Union Leader (NH) re Cheshire Cty. Historical Society
1991 Social Security applications and claims index
1991 Find a Grave record
2013 article in the Sentinel Source (Keene NH) re his Ghost Army experience
2021 (May 18) GALP Veteran Bio Worksheet from son Keith McKane.