|General||Library Services||Children/Young Adult||Township||Help the Library||Contact Us||Virtual Village|
Max A. Hasse Jr.
(Interview taped 3/1976)
I was born at 627 Front St. on Sept. 13, 1915. I had a very happy childhood. We didn't have any money or any affluence. Just good family communication. My family came here in 1909 with my older brother -Eddie and my sister Charlotte. They moved into a house my father had started to build from rubble. He thought he ought to raise his children in a better environment. A friend had told him of a place in Teaneck near the railroad. He came out and looked at the lot and there was nothing there but a couple of 2 by 4s where some one else had started to build. He carried most of the wood to build his house from New York on the train. He couldn't go in the coaches with his lumber, so he stood between the cars. The wood was from packing cases shipped from all over the world.
I remember lying in bed as a boy and looking at the ceiling and reading the addresses of places where all the wood came from -- Europe, England, Germany. The house he completed had no central heating. We used coal salvaged from the railroad. A plus was the railroad ties we cut up every Sunday morning. The kitchen had a coal stove, it was the only place heated. We carried water from a cold water tap to the cast iron sink in the kitchen. We had an out house. It was interesting to walk out there on a cold night. At night we used to cut up newspapers and run strings through them for the out house. There was no water in the house. At the top of the street there was a single cold water faucet where the water was cut off. It came from the wells of the Bogota Water Company. We got water by the pail full.
I remember we had a mortgage. That lot must have cost $1100 or $1200. I know well, because in later life I finished paying it off. We had a great family life. My father was an engineer. He came from Germany. He was in the hardware business and he was a locksmith.
I remember when Cedar Lane was a single road, just about a cow path. There were farmhouses from Elm Avenue over to River Road, I went to Emerson School. It hasn't changed much, from outside appearances. I remember some of my teachers. Mrs. Brainerd was the principal. Mrs. Quackenbush was real rough as all teachers went. Mrs. Brainard used to rap me on the head with a ruler. One teacher I remember was Mrs. Rouse. I was in the sixth grade and just beginning to notice certain things. She was just about the prettiest woman I had seen. Later she taught my children in Bryant school. I went to Teaneck High School and graduated in 1933. I recall Gerry Galanti, now head of Fairleigh Dickinson's Branch in England. Dr. Charles Littel was the principal. He founded Bergen Junior College on River Street in Hackensack. Then he moved it to Teaneck and it later became the Teaneck Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson.
I was born at home. There were not that many hospitals then. When I was about to happen, mother told my father he'd have to get the doctor. He ran to Bogota--we had no car and no telephone. Dr. Edwards handled half the people in our section--and the live stock, too. He was a real family doctor. His specialty was people.
Kids I recall--there was Morrison and Frank Iorio. We used to play ball with kids from Larch and Elm Avenues and River Road. There weren't that many people around. The West Shore was our main transportation. It didn't stop in Teaneck but West Englewood. It would slow up to let my father off. The old trolley ran to 125th Street. There was no bridge over the tracks at Cedar Lane. There were no stores. The first building on the North side of Cedar lane was where a health food store is now. On the south side was a drug store--Holsteiner's Pharmacy where I worked.
I mopped floors at first and when I got a bike I made deliveries. I made my bike out of old parts. Believe it or not I turned that bike over to my own kids later. It stood up. When I was 18 or 19 I used to ride it to Greenwood Lake and back on Tuesdays, my day off.
I joined the Boy Scouts in 1927 at the Smith Community Church. I was 12 in 1927 but I had been reading the Boy Scout manual for several months waiting until I was 12. Arthur Storms a real estate man was the scoutmaster and there was Stromberg . I used to go to his house to pass tests and he was always reading the army manual, He was a colonel in the National Guard.
1927 was the first year they had Nobebosco. I couldn't afford to go to camp, but there was a thing going in Ridgefield Park and the one who sold the most tickets got a free week at camp. It cost $7. But I didn't have a uniform. The troop committed had the idea that the one who passed the most tests would get a uniform. I got the uniform and the week at camp for free, thanks to the committee. Troop 94 met at the Community Church where my mother was a charter member.
To add to my Scout equipment, the Sunday School teacher Miss Near gave a prize for Perfect attendance. That was about the hardest thing I had to do. Usually they gave a Bible, but she found out what you wanted and I'd get a new piece of equipment each time. I felt badly leaving her class after a couple of years. When the church started I went to Sunday School in the Kenwood Fire house on the second floor. I recall the ground breaking for the church. It was the Smith Community Church, part of a church in Bogota.
My mother had a green thumb. She planted things we could use. Instead of barberry she'd plant currants, gooseberries or cherry trees. Our desserts came from these. Blackberries. Where the tennis club is now were fields of strawberries. We made elderberry wine. We used everything. As for meat, on Saturday nights my father brought home two or three bags from a German pork butcher in New York. He'd go to the Five and Ten and bring home candy. The kids in the neighborhood would be waiting and he'd give every one pieces of caddy. That was our allotment for the week. My mother knitted, but she didn't sew much. She made quilts filled with down. We raised geese, chickens and I raised a lot of turkeys. Fences were virtually unheard of. We were happy with what we had.
I'm still associated with scouting after 45 years. I'm an Eagle Scout like my sons. I'm also a Silver Beaver, one of the finest awards of all. It is given for service to boyhood. I'm proud of that. I was assistant scout master at 18 or 19. Russell Richter who has passed away was the Scoutmaster. The troop was sponsored by the Teaneck Men's Club. Later I was scoutmaster in another town and of Troop 93 in Teaneck, one of the biggest troops in the country--just under 100.
We met in the Presbyterian Church. When we got too big for their hall, we went to Washington Irving School and still had two companies. We had a fine lot of young people. We built a swimming pool and while I know nothing about music, we had one of the finest drum and bugle corps around.
I had just moved into the house on Amsterdam Avenue when a man named Lee and Harold Tallman knocked on my door. This fellow Lee said they only wanted a little help with the scout troop, I said I'd go over Friday night. When I got there I saw a pile of kids with no uniforms, no organization. I said this isn't for me. We had closing ceremonies. Next week the scoutmaster didn't show up. That was it. I took over--for the next 20 years. We had a couple of junior leaders who today are raising scouts of their own. I built it up to one of the beat operating troops in the county. The National Boy Scouts came to see us. We turned out some wonderful kids--we taught life saving, swimming, first aid. We had 25 on the committee -- men were anxious to got on the committee.
We had a great camping unit. We moved like the army. There was great spirit and cooperation among the kids. They were proud of Troop 93. This town has a Guidance Council and a Youth Bureau. Hundreds of parents came to us for help with problems at home. I think we did some good. It's nice to see what has happened, some of them are first grade engineers, professors and in other fields. They like the sons I raised to be. Eagle Scouts have thanked me for what I have done for them. It wasn't me, it was the whole outfit.
The kids helped build a swimming pool. I enjoyed every minute of it. Louise enjoyed it as much as I did. The swimming pool was a story in itself. I said if you kids want a pool we will all work together, I got a prices on digging a 30 by 18 pool, 7 ft deep. The contractor said $85. He dug the hole. When I came home I sound these mounds of dirt. He told me he didn't say he'd take the dirt away. But he had a problem. There was a big boulder in the middle of the pool. It would cost him to get it out. I said if I get ride of the boulder, you get the dirt out for a total of $75. That evening there were kids all over the place and the neighbors were wondering what we were doing. The boulder was at the deep end of the pool. We dug a big hole in the shallow end. Then I brought chains, hitched them around the boulder and to the truck--gave a big jerk and the boulder fell into the hole. The contractor never knew where the boulder went.
We made our own concrete mixer with a 15-gallon drum, a couple of roller skates and a gear reducer. The floor was concrete and the sides cinder blocks. That pool is 18-20 years old now. We used a filter we got from an old dry cleaning plant. The kids learned plumbing, pipe fitting, concrete mixing, etc. Later I wanted to put a cover over a patio section. The price was $700 or $800. We took old pipe and made a roof of corrugated aluminum. They used to work on power lifting in our barn. This started when they were wrestling and playing football at Teaneck High. Now some of those young men are leaders in the Jersey State Power Lifters Assoc. This started when Dick Rodda said some kids were interested. They set up bar bells in my barn where the Fine Arts Committee used to practice their plays.
Every Memorial Day and 4th of July we took part in the town program. We had a float with a theme like brotherhood Through Scouting. We get a flag and a uniform from different countries--40 nations in all. Then we found youngsters to fit the size of the uniforms. We had the statue of Liberty and a flag on the float. After we sent back the uniforms I wound up with one from a country that had gone Communist, I had it until 3 months ago.
We had a water safety float with a pool where we demonstrated artificial respiration, rescue and first aid. We had a camp float. For the life saving float we wrote to the Lifesaver people and got Lifesavers which we divided up and wrapped in little packages to through to kids watching the parade. We had animals on the camp float and demonstrated lashing.
Every time we finished our Teaneck Parade we would hurry down to Ridgefield Park and enter their parade where we always got first prize as we did in Teaneck.
When did I get into politics? I was asked to serve on the committee on Parks and Recreation. I served four years, then they asked me to serve on the Board of Adjustment. I preferred Parks and Recreation, but it seems every one wanted to be on the Board of Adjustment. When I finished with the Parks and Recreation Board I went to the Board of Adjustment. I was there 4 years.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410