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Mrs. Miriam Johnson Freitag
(Interview taped 7/9/1975)
I was born in Bogota, but my family moved to Teaneck when I was young. We lived on Kipp Street, Oritani Place and Linden Avenue. I remember an old couple named Kitty and Sam Dunn who lived on Kipp Street. Fire destroyed the two-family home. Kitty and Sam lost everything. I can't recall how it started, I was under 10. The Morrisons had a large colonial house at the bottom of Oritani Place. She kept a lot of hens. They offered the Duffs a little house perched on the side of a hill. People in town furnished the house. That was my first taste of volunteer work. I believe he worked for the paper mill.
I remember Spiedhoffer's Bakery in Hackensack. We would walk down Pomander Walk, turn right over a large sand dune, cut through the dunes and cross a wooden bridge to Hackensack. My mother would always buy us something nice at the bakery. It must have been where Arnold Constable's was. There was Mac Fadden's Drug Store in Hackensack where everybody met.
One house had no cellar. We had a large iron stove with nickel trimming. Mother had an oil heater for the living room. The kitchen was our family room.
Cedar Lane from Teaneck Road to the bridge was barely wide enough for two cars. These cedar trees arched like the sabers at West Point weddings. My cousin and I loved to walk to Hackensack, over the plank bridge. Winifred Reiners, one of my friends from the school on North Street, would invite me to her house. Her father was the bridge tender. When a boat came he raised the bridge. It was an unusual house, English style with a gabled roof and a big chimney. It was gray. The Reiners were very friendly.
I remember going down River Road to Napping's Rink toward Bogota. I think that's where the Swim Club is. They'd put up a flag with a red center. That meant Skating today.
My father was a builder in Teaneck and Bogota. He had a nice business by the time I was 12.
I remember Miss Brianard in the eighth grade at Emerson School. A very nice person and excellent disciplinariam. She was the principal -- an ample woman with red cheeks and dark hair. Miss Helen Scott was my fourth grade teacher. She was an opera fan. She went to see Wagner's The Ring cycle. On Friday afternoon she would tell us about it, humming the theme from each opera the explaining it. Then we'd have a test. I remember Miss Ferris and Miss Wilke. I went to kindergarten in Bogota before School 3 was built. We went then to what is now the Borough Hall.
There was a store on Catalpa Avenue between Oritani and Kipp, owned by a family named Weber. I remember the big cheeses and banisco cookies in big tin boxes. Among our neighbors were the Grahams, English or Scottish people who had two great dens. During World War I Mrs. Graham had chickens. I used to get them for my mother--they were a dollar a dozen then. There was a field between our house and Webers and a large rock. There where we used to gather. There was a lovely family named Erickson -- Karin was my friend. Her father had a Model T touring car.
On hot summer days we would go black berrying, wearing old clothes and a hat and carrying a stick. Ne part of body was exposed. The stick was to beat down the bushes. The berry patch was from North Street to Cedar Lane and up to Larch Avenue. North Street was a dirt road with lots of rocks.
What was then Phelps Woods now has a thousand houses. We loved Phelps Woods. I was in Miss Emily McGill's Campfire Girls. She taught us about WoHeLo -- Work, Health, Love. She took us to the woods and we cooked fudge forever and it was never quite done. Beautiful woods -- pine trees across from where the main building of Fairleigh Dickinson is now.
We belonged to the Smith Community Church. Every year the congregation met in Phelps Woods for an outing. It was so cool. coming in from the summer heat. The soft pine needles under foot. There were horse back riders there.
When we lived on Kipp Street we would gather mushrooms. My parents came from Finland. My father loved mushrooms. We'd take a large paper bag and go to a field near Larch Avenue and Kipp Street. The mushrooms were wonderful. My father know which to pick. We'd go home with a big bag full, wash them, put them in a skillet with butter and have a fine meal.
Occasionally we'd go canoeing in the Hackensack River. You could rent them at the Bogota Boat Club.
The Cadmuses were a stately couple and Captain Phelps something else. He had a large car and a chauffeur. He was so picturesque and looked so elegant with his Van Dyke beard and Captain's hat. We know his two gardeners, Charles Baruda and Mr. Robert Stevenson. Captain Phelps made nice homes for them. His house was where you enter Fairleigh Dickinson University. There were huge violets there. Drinkwort was one of the gardeners. The Morgans lived down the way.
The Dorisis were an Italian family who lived on Chestnut down from Cedar Lane. All the family worked on the farm. Rita Barrie lived with her grandfather on Paradise Farm. A horse farm on Queen Anne Road. George Watson, her grandfather trained race horses. The farm ran down to the West Shore Railroad. It was enclosed with a large white fence. Rita came to school in the Phelps Manor Bus for children who lived beyond the railroad. It was a joy to go to Paradise Farm. They had an Irish maid Kitty and a butler. They had leather furniture in the living room. Her grandfather went back and forth to England and Scotland. Rita marries Ben Wood.
I went to Leonia High School on the trolley. I walked to Main Street, Bogota.
I must mention the Artist Deskow. He had two daughters, Ruth and Elaine. His house was fun to go into. It was a colonial house across from School3, Elm Avenue and North Street. It has been there since I was 6. The girls' father's studio had a large window with many panes -- it was later the Dara-Dale Dance Studio.
Teaneck was a nice quite town. I remember the old fashioned fire gongs. There was one near Weber's Store on Catalpa and one near the Kenwood Fire House. The firemen's balls were very nice affairs. They had them upstairs. There were masked balls and other gatherings. All organizations used it. I belonged to the Christian Endeavor and we'd meet there.
In 1922, some one spread a rumor that the world was coming to an end. On the night it was supposed to happen, every one got on a high place. We gathered across Oritani Place and Larch Ave. There was no moon or stars -- the world was coming to an end. The town people waited and when nothing happened they started talking.
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