All interviews were taped and documented.They are available through the Reference
Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy
of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.
Audio recording of the interview with Mr. Thomas Costa
Thomas J. Costa, Mayor of Teaneck, 1966-1969
Chairman of Teaneck 75th Anniversary Committee
(Interview taped 9/29/1970)
I was 8 years old when we moved to Teaneck in 1920. We lived in a house on DeGraw Ave. Apple and pear orchards surrounded us. North of Cedar Lane was a dense forest.
I remember the man who formed the Red Devils Football team cleared the land for the athletic field, chopping down big trees. The fellows included Sullivan, O'reilly, Beaumonts, Stephenson and Roberts. We played baseball, soccer and basketball with representatives from Longfellow, Emerson and Washington Irving schools.
I went to Longfellow. When the center portion of the building was burned some of us attended classes in the Morningside Terrace fire house and some went to Emerson. I went to both. We got passes on the trolley to go to Emerson., ride to Elm Ave and then walk. Sometimes we'd hitch a freight train and hop off at school.
I graduated from Longfellow in 1928. There was no Teaneck High School. We could go to Englewood, Hackensack, Leonia, Ridgefield Park or Bogota. I went to Ridgefield Park because they had the best football team. My wife, the former Alvera Mannewal, went to Bogota High. We transferred when Teaneck High was built and were graduated in the first class, June., 1931. There were 75 in the class.
Plans for Teaneck's 75th anniversary celebration are going well. There will be an education program in the schools Friday. Oct.23. 'There will be bus tours of historic homes and a tea for people who have lived in Teaneck 40 years or more. Saturday there will be a football game at Teaneck High with a program at the half. That evening there will be a dance in Votee Park with entertainment. Sunday, Oct. 25, there will be a parade at 2 p.m. , a picnic in the park, a band concert, presentation of awards and a birthday cake for those celebrating 75th birthdays during the three days. Beer mugs will be sold as souvenirs and there will be free balloons. Hot dogs, beer and birch beer will be free. The Woman's Club, service clubs and other organizations are all cooperating.
As a boy I used to trap muskrats in the Overpeck. You could swim in both the Overpeck and Hackensack. We used to ride icebergs -- chunks of ice that sometimes broke and we got dunked. The day I was to be confirmed I had on my blue serge suit and a bunch of us were getting apples on DeGraw Avenue. We were chased and in getting through the barbed wire fence I tore my pants. I got it when I got home.
I played on Teaneck high's first football team. We didn't have the nice field they have now or much equipment--a 10 cents ball taped, an old bat also taped. We had plenty of vacant lots to practice in. Team mates included Art Freitags. Tony Manno and Mel Rasch.
When I was going to law school I worked at Emerson Electric for 14 cent an hour, My father had a drug store at Queen Anne Rd. and DeGraw. Holy Name Hospital had no pharmacy in those days. The doctors would leave the prescriptions at the drugstore and I would deliver them to the hospital.
Votee Park was a wooded area. The town acquired the land little by little during the depression when property was sold for taxes. The WPA built the high school stadium during the depression. There were about 2200 people here then.
Dr. Bookstaver was a man dedicated to the community. We had few Jews and five or six black families. Dr. Bookstaver devoted full time to the job of health officer and did much for the town. It was his help that got the Volunteer Ambulance Corps started.
Teaneck today has about 43,000. I regret that many good people are moving out because they can't afford to keep their homes. We need high rise apartments for these people and for the young couples. We could have town houses or condominiums.