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.
Beatrice Schwartz Diggelmann
(Interview taped 5/4/1977)
I have lived here since 1913 -- 54 years. My mothers and father came from Brooklyn. It was July 31 -- then came a beautiful hurricane. There were no sidewalks. There was mud everywhere. West Englewood was a dirt road. Teaneck Road was gravel. The men had to leave the truck at the entrance to our street and carry everything, including the baby's crib.
Ed Knowles built this house. They moved to Maryland. In our family was my brother Harold, my sister Gussie who married a Conklin and lived in Englewood, and myself. I had two brothers who died. My mother's name was Mao Rost, my father was Emil Schwartz. I went to the little wooden school on Church Street and Teaneck Road. Then to School 2 where the Town House is. I remember Mrs. Marsh the principal, Mrs. Judd and Miss McCracken. Our neighbors were Mrs. Imhoff, the McDounals, the Madlers -- we came here because of them from Brooklyn. My father, a printer, took the train, the ferry and the trolley in New York to get to work. There was no Queen Anne Road of Palisade Avenue in this section. The Jordans lived across the street on West Englewood Ave. This was all woods. There was a road going through the woods to Clausen's Fat Factory -- they used big boilers to render the fat. Talk about pollution!
Our house had modern plumbing. We had a 40-foot driven well. People came for miles to get our water -- the best you ever drank. But it got to be a nuisance -- a big mudhole -- so we closed it up. We used coal stoves, one in the kitchen and one in the basement with holes of opt air registers to heat upstairs. We almost froze the first winter. We had 3 and 4 foot snows. Like the one in 1947, the year my father died.
I went to beauty schools in New York -- Mullins, Wilford Academy and Marinella. I worked while going to school. Ten years ago I took a brush-up course at Parisian. I worked 10 years with Jay Schneider at 42nd and Fifth Avenue, 20 years at Stern's then I spent 20 years taking care of three sick people. My husband had a nervous breakdown. He lost his mind, but I stayed with him.
There were no stores in this part of town. We walked to Englewood, Hackensack or Bergenfield or Bogota. There was nothing in Teaneck. Then a man opened a store on Forest Avenue near Teaneck Road, a Jewish man. He sold practically everything. We used to take the cart to school, leave it in the hall and after school go to the store with a list and bring home the groceries.
My mother and Mrs. Imhoff used to walk to Englewood to get groceries, taking a clothes basket. After shopping they would go to the movies and walk home over Dutch Town Hill carrying the basket between them. One day the weather changed and there was a heavy snowstorm. My brother and I took the sled with a rope, walked to Englewood, got our mother and Mrs. Imhoff and pulled the basket home on the sled, making tracks for them to walk in.
We had no refrigeration. Across the street was a spring. Some man dug a big hole there and we stored our food in cricks. In the winter we used a window box. On July4 every one gave a donation and we had fireworks in Borden's fields. Friends were coming from Brooklyn. My father brought a 28 pound fresh ham. We walked to River Road to Peter's farm and got eggs and vegetables, put everything in cricks with a rock on top. Came the morning of July 4 and so and there wasn't a thing in the spring. There was a hobo camp nearby and when we got up at 5:30 a.m. so Mama could cook the ham, the hoboes had taken everything -- ours and everybody else's. Not even a brick of butter was left. I took the wagon and walked to River Road, got a bushel of potatoes, eggs, corn and milk. My mother made potato salad, hard boiled eggs and with corn we had a feast.
There was no doctor here. Dr. Sullivan came from Englewood, at first on a bike, then on a horse, then with a horse and carriage and then he got a little automobile, but he was too old by that time to come. If you had to get medicine, you walked to Englewood. There was Dr. Louis Ruch and later Valentine.
The first store in West Englewood was Abe Etten's butcher shop and grocery. Then there were more stores Zitelli the shoemaker, then an A & P came. One the corner of Palisade and West Englewood , there was a little drug store where they sold ice cream in the back. Where the post office is now. Mr. Manno, the Barber, moved in there later and there was a big room with lattice around it. That must have been the ice cream parlor.
There used to be band concerts in West Englewood Park by the railroad station on Wednesday nights. There was a gazebo there. There was a lake or a pond. One night my father came home from work late, got off the train and walked over to hear the band concert. He fell into the lake and the water wasn't fresh -- full of toad stools.
DiBella had the barber shop with Mr. Manno brought. I remember when they cut Queen Anne Road -- Westfield Ave. through to Cedar Lane. I remember the Blue Bird Inn on Teaneck Road and the Phelps mansion where we used to go to get horse radish. There was a big field of it. Hagens had a store where she sold dresses and he fixed clocks.
On Teaneck Road at Bogert Street was the old clubhouse. They used to have dances on Wednesday nights, Saturday and holidays. There would be masquerade balls. We had a party there every Saturday night. All the neighbors came and had coffee and cake. In the clubhouse was a bowling alley and a stage downstairs. Upstairs was a pool table.
As for the fire department, there was a barn or garage opposite the Town House. There were tow big wheels with a bar across, the hose was wound around that. That was the fire department. When the alarm sounded on the big steel tire, the men and big boys would pull that to the fire. They didn't have water at first, they used water from your house. Murphy was the policeman. He used to ride a bike.
I remember one Halloween, Mrs. Imhoff had an outhouse. The big boys stole it and hoisted it on a pole at the railroad station. She make them bring it back. The boys were Al Pierce, Red Uber and probably the Imhoff boy.
We swam in the Hackensack River where the disposal plant is. It was cool and clear. Once or twice a week we'd put our lunch in the wagon, take a sheet which we draped around a tree to make a tent for a dressing room and go swimming. We'd put our clothes on the grounds. Once the ants got into our clothes.
In the summer we'd go to the store for people and cut grass etc. We'd get a nickel or 2 cents. My mother had a gallon jar on the porch where we put our pennies. Before we went back to school, my mother would take us to Coney Island -- to the Steeple Chase. The last time she took 14 children. We left at 5 a.m. and came back late at night. We took bathing suits, and baskets of lunch. We took the train, then the ferry, walked to 7th Avenue and took the subway. They were all neighbor kids, the Moores, Imhoffs, Alphonse Singer, Sammie Dunn, Joseph Oppelt and our cousins. Before we went my mother would empty the jar on the dining table, the kids would count the money, wrap it and go to the bank to get bigger pieces. It was a great summer adventure. We left the jar on the porch all the time. Once we went away for two weeks and never locked the door. We didn't have a key.
During the War you couldn't get coal. We saved newspapers, cut down trees in the woods and saved the sawdust. Then we'd pick up coal along the railroad tracks, sometimes the fireman would throw out a shovel full. Then we'd spread out the newspapers, spread on the sawdust and the coal, roll up the papers and leave them in the sun till they dried. That's what we used for coal.
The first road to Englewood was a toll road. I think it was Franklin Road to Lafayette -- a dirt road. It was 10 cents to go to Englewood. Then there was Dutch Town Hall at Palisade Avenue.
There was water on either side of the railroad tracks. In the summer we used to take logs and make a boat and paddle along. In the winter it froze and you could skate almost to Bergenfield and Bogota and the east side of the tracks.
Mr. Hazelton showed us our first movies. He was in that business. He showed them in the clubhouse. 10 cents for kids, 25 cents for adults. You moved your own chairs. After the movie we'd all sing. My sister and Lily Imhoff played for the movies. We had good shows.
Our first radio was made out of an Oatmeal box. You wrapped it with coils then put it under a card board box, brought the top through the box and then there were the cat's whiskers. You tickled these till you got a sound. You had ear phones. My brother used to put the ear phones in a mixing bowl on the table so we could all hear. It was a lot of fun.
We kids has chores. My mother got a 2-quart ice cream freezer. Later we got an ice box and no one dared open that. She's get extra ice in a crock and make cream. We put names in a hat to see who could choose the kind. then who was to crank and who was to lick the dasher. Later she got a 4-quart freezer and we could have 2 kinds. We made our own ginger ale and soda and bottled it. It had to set in the sun so many hours, then we'd put it in the cellar. One day, the whole house shook during a thunder storm. We went downstairs and the foam was a foot deep.
We really had togetherness in those days. Every one was equal.