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Muriel Ridley Everson
(Interview taped 11/25/1975)
I have lived in Teaneck since September 1904. I was born in February that year so I don't know what it was like when I came. My parents, Kenloch V. Ridley and Mary Blessing Ridley, came here from Brooklyn. They lived at 83 E. Forest Ave., where my brothers Vincent and Warren still live. I had five brothers and on sister. My father worked for the New York Bell Telephone Company and we had a phone as long as I can remember. I would imagine that my father started as a volunteer with the Fire Department before he became chief.
Across the street from us lived the Thomas Olivers, Mulligans and Phillipses. Next door was Wyche and then Verlini. Two Jewish families, Fried and Friedman lived in a two-family house. Fried had a butcher store below Overlook Ave. opposite Koster's grocery. Old Jake Brinkerhoff lived at Overlook and Forest Ave. The Lieppert family lived on Summit Avenue. Then there was the Nelson family -- Agnes Easterbrook.
I went to School 2 when there was only the middle section. I saw two additions and the new school built. The old school with Mansard rood stood where the playground is. The old fire house stood in the middle of Forest Avenue which didn't go through from Teaneck Road. I saw three fire houses built on Teaneck Road. I remember Miss Lucy Marsh and Mrs. Osnedo, my teachers and Mr. Jay, the principal. I was a good kid in school and didn't have much to do with him.
Our House was there when we came. It was built by Selvage. He was quite a business man, didn't have much time for kids. As far as I was concerned my father was always the fire chief. There are records in the fire department that give all those dates.
My grandfather, Thomas Blessing, was the first fire chief. My grandparents used to spend the summers ina farmhouse at River Road and West Englewood Avenue which they rented for $12 a month. My mother worked for the phone company in New York. At one time my grandfather lived at Trypn Avenue and Teaneck Road. There used to be a hill there. They cut it down. I walked from Forest Avenue along Teaneck Road with my brother Kenneth to grandpa's house to get the mil. Grandma Blessing died in 1917-1918. Mrs. Anne Blessing who lived on Laurel Terrace was my uncle's wife.
I went to Englewood High School. It was quite a hike when we missed the bus. Mr. Verlini drove our bus.
Every one was for the fire department. They had affairs. The building was in the middle of the block ( Fairview) between Teaneck Road and Overlook. They had dances upstairs. Then there was the Teaneck Club. I remember a dance in the lot where Carvel's is now -- where the little library stood. They built a floor for dancing. Every one in town turned out for parades. When I was in the sixth or seventh grade in 1917 we had the Girls' Patriotic League. We knitted washcloths and scarves for the soldiers at Camp Merritt and raised money for a hot wagon at Camp Merritt.
Westfield Avenue (Queen Anne Road) was a pretty tree-lined street. It ended where Selvage Avenue is. The section between there and the tracks was a picnic area. I remember trees with Indian heads carved in them. Where Forest Drive is now was a big stand of pine trees.
There was a pollywog pond at Bedford Avenue and Circle Drive. We used to skate on a pond on River Road and on the corner where Dr. White's place is on Forest Avenue. We used to walk up and down the Seven Sister hills to swim in the Hudson River--and then we walked home. We could get the trolley to Leonia junction, change cars and go on the old Green Trolley to the end of the line--Suffern. We visited friends in Sloatsburg. Sometimes we'd take the ferry at Edgewater and go to New York.
We made our own entertainment. I saw my first movies in School 2. Mr. Hazelton ran them. There was always a Chinese man with a big mustache sawing a girl in half and then -- continued next week.
Shopping? We had wagons which come around. There was the ice man. Peddlers sold fruits and vegetables. We went to Englewood for groceries. There was Sitzman's and Koster's--where Balestrini was later.
There were ball games in Borden's Fields between the police and fire departments. My brother Ken was on the Red Devils football team. I went to the Presbyterian Church Sunday School in the afternoon. We'd go for a walk before we went home. We'd walk to the Phelps Ruins and then I'd get heck when I got home because my white shoes were dirty.
I have my sewing book from the Teaneck School with my name "Muriel Ridley" on it. It told how to hemstitch and all that. I'd give it to the town if we had a permanent exhibit.
After high school I went to work in New York. George s. Coe of the Presbyterian Church got me a job with the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America. I worked for them for 47 1/2 years, retiring in 1969. It took the ferry and train to 20 Broadway, later to 32nd Street and to 42nd Street. After the George Washington Bridge was built I took the bus to 52nd St. and Sixth Avenue. George Coe organized the Presbyterian Church. He was interested in Children. They lived in Englewood.
I located the picture of Teaneck's mayors for the 75th anniversary -- all but Robert Shaw and James E. Pearce and they must be somewhere.
Nelson Ayers lived on West Englewood Avenue near Teaneck Road, Oppelts were the third or fourth house, then Larkins and Greenlaws. Ayers developed all the part of West Englewood.
It is good to think back over the old times. Teaneck has changed, but I can't think of any place I'd rather live.
Teaneck Public Library
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