|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.|
|NARRATOR:||Ruth and Harold Glick|
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||June 1, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (8/4/1984)|
(R) Well it was blockbusting by the realtors.
(H) Yes but suddenly there was a desire by black people to move in to that particular section. The northeast.
(R) Well there were more affluent black people who could afford to move into the suburbs from New York. And actually part of the reason that we were doing it that the board and a lot of people in town did not want to have a segregated school. We said that wasn't appropriate. We had to really work out some way of resolving it so that no school would be segregated.
(H) Now Art Stevenson who was in with the New York office of National Council of Churches as was John Wagner began to consult with Harry Stearns who had been
(R) Well whatever his name was, he was superintendent of schools in Englewood
(H) And after the riots in Englewood, he left or he was let go and Mark Shedd came in. Now this superintendent was now associated in the days work with Art Stevenson and so a lot of the experience that Englewood was, we got to know and although I never, every met that superintendent, we, the information was, and so there were many, many meetings which took hours and hours into the night discussing what the implications were of segregation, desegregation, plans to meet it, etc. and actually we took a leadership role.
(R) And Art used to share a lot of that with Harvey as well. And Harvey knew that we were all working so there was a lot that was
(H) In other words, we just didn't follow the fact that the board was concerned and that Harvey Scribner was concerned and was beginning to think about it. In fact he was really thinking quite conservatively about a voluntary sixth grade. Voluntary, you know. of course, the black community felt, those who were active like Archie Lacey, if I remember those years and who had started getting involved with us by then, felt that it was unfair to put the burden of the solution of the segregation which had resulted as a result of housing pattern onto black children and they were really demanding a movement of both white and black children. The resolution I believe, and again my memory gets me, the first year there was a voluntary asking whites to move children into the Bryant School and as you told me before, when we had started there were two parents so the realization came along very quickly that this wasn't going to work.
(R) The Lacey also did. They were willing and their children went to Lowell.
(H) That was the swap, right. OK. Now that's a good think.
(R) And Harvey never know till a year later when I told him the Levitts and the Kesslers and we said that we would also put our children, when they got the age they were going to make the sixth grade, what were we going to do? We were going to put them in the sixth grade and then they came out with the sixth grade plan so we didn't have to do it. So then Judy went in her first year. But he didn't know that we said, well all right, since nobody was doing it that year, we were going to do it.
(I) Well actually I think voluntary plan was any grade because the Laceys came to Lowell before the sixth grade.
(H) Yes it was. Harvey Scribner had a number of other plans too. That wasn't one of his, in fact, what on of his brave plans was to go ahead and make a completely integrated campus.
(R) I remember that. A campus. The Hawthorne Campus.
(H) Hawthorne and Thomas Jefferson.
(R) It was going to be one enormous central campus for all the schools of the township. All of them. That would have been marvelous.
(H) Anyway, eventually it was resolved to get the sixth grade school at the Bryant School and distribute the children from Bryant School to other school. Then of course all hell broke out.
(R) As you remember. The infamous board of ed meeting.
(H) Even before that, you know, friends were divided, some of our best friends who got on the other side no longer talked to us. There was a whole
(R) Well you know, there was a big schism. There were the neighborhood school people and the pro integration people.
(H) Now the thing started basically with neighbors of Harry Warner who was I guess a dynamic person.
(R) He also had Alice Hoak backing him and feeding him information and getting him
(I) Alice Hoak was principal of Whittier.
(R) That's were, that was the hot bed of the neighborhood school group. I am sad to say since we were also Whittier parents but that's where the big schism came and that's where we lost friends.
(H) I mean these people no longer talked to us.
(R) They have since moved out of town, but at that point, from being very close and then suddenly there was just no discussion of anything and then pretty soon there was just no meeting. Because they were getting involved with Alice Hoak who was working behind the scenes to defeat any kind of arrangement for integration and then she got Harry Warner or maybe he came to her. I don't know how they started. And got involved with Margolis so that they went out to fight against.
(H) Then of course they sponsored this ticket, I guess it was Warner and Margolis and (Foah)
(I) Mrs. Zahray I think was, Betty Zahray, Helen Zahray, right. You are good.
(H) Anyway, they only got two of them on.
(I) (Everyone talking at one:) Bernie Confer
(R) Wasn't that the year that Fay and Art and Bernie Ran
(H) That's right. They defeated Fay and Art. Now of course at that point when things got down
(I) Now we have to identify Fay as Fay Geier.
(R) Ran for the board. With Art Stevenson and Bernie Confer. Bernie Confer had been on the board before and he may have been a president already so that 's why it was easier for him to be
(H) He had gotten off, hadn't he?
(R) No. I thin it was just a reelection.
(H) Anyway they ran as a, did they run as a ticket?
(R) Oh sure.
(H) I think they kept themselves independent.
(R) I am not so sure.
(H) I think Stevenson and Geier ran as a ticket, just the two of them. Buy anyway, in other word Art Stevenson got himself off the presidency of TCPS.
(R) Yeah. He had to resign.
(H) Resign. And he ran and was defeated. Now then of course the board still hadn't made a decision and before the time for the next election I guess the decision by the board, Majority, was to to the thing and bring in the sixth grade plan with Harvey Scribner and to vote it in while they still had a majority. Now the problem came in that, and everybody assumed it, that at the political climate that was there at the time that the next election, they would get three on and they would overturn the sixth grade plan before he had gotten because this was a February election election and the sixth grade plan wasn't going to go in until September. I believe that was the way it went. Not the question came in that, now we still had the nucleus from Good Government.
(R) Don't jump until you talk about what we did to education community as far as the value of integration because that was
(H) Well I am trying to get the functioning of TCPs at this point.
(R) Well, that's one of the things we did. In other words, we had because when we saw the tenor of the town, and that kind of hysterical attitude at the meetings, then we gave ourselves a leadership training course, those of us who were interested, and we got Henry Lipman from Columbia University who was a professor and Ethel Kahn who had been active in community work in Tenafly and she brought him in and he met with us for a number of sessions and gave us training.
(H) We paid for it.
(R) Yes. I guess we did. Through TCPS. And we trained ourselves as leaders and then we set up a series of cottage parties which we called crackerbarrel sessions in people's houses all over town, all over, we went into actually strange houses, we didn't know anybody. All neighborhoods. We went into the black community because they had to know that we were white people who wanted to be integrated you know with them. We went everywhere. And some places we had hostile reception and some places were interested. They gave us an argument. But we were there just to lead our discussions which would be an open ended discussion just to open people's minds and let them talk about the whole issue and let them express all the hostility and all the fears they felt. We had to do that first before they could begin to listen and try to understand what was at value. so we were there to encourage them to express all their fears about what it would mean to have black children going to school with their white children. And we did that for about a year or so, having these cracker barrel meetings.
(I) This would have been about 63, 64? 64 to the beginning of 65 then.
(R) It was early. It was very early. And then I guess we continued having different kinds of cottage parties. I don't remember. But you know, it was a means of reaching, then we had, then Rose and I got in tough with all the clergymen in town to try to get some kind of a clergymen's group together and we didn't get too much cooperation, I must say. Some of them later did but they were very scared and they really didn't, most of them did not want to do anything. We tried to get, when Whittier School was having a PTA meeting and we wanted to get them on record because that was the crucial school since it was Alice Hoak's school, we wanted to get that PTA to vote in favor of integration for the sixth grade class and that was when I had the mumps and you went to, and over the phone we planned the whole things and I am lying in bed like this. And Rose and I planned, and you got Ellis Freedman, who they didn't know, to stand, he stood up, he was a quiet soft spoken attorney, and he spoke of the concerns of the community and he spoke in such a way that everybody, neighborhood school people and everything, said, yeah, yeah, that's right. We got to do it. And before they know it, we had them voting on a motion that supported the sixth grade school. And when he sat down, I heard this afterwards because I wasn't there, I was sick in bed, you were there, so what did the people do, they sort of looked around, they didn't realize what they had done. It was marvelous strategy that we did. That was important. It was a tactical victory.
(H) Let me get back to this. Those of us who worked politically through the good government group, and by the way the name of the group that Vinnie Maher had was the TCIG -- Teaneck Citizens for Improved Government. OK. And one of those was Frank Hall. Now
(R) And the electrician. What's his name? Eddie
(H) Eddie Orr.
(R) Eddie Orr was a part of that group. And another one down there. They were all from the Glenwood area.
(H) No, they came from more that the Glenwood.
(R) There was another one who lived in that area. Down there.
(H) We got together and we said, you know, we are never going to win this election this way. We are going to lose it. What we need is larger involvement of different sections of the population and I remember Oscar Epstein at that point had been active in town and had some rapport with Matty Feldman who I really, although I know Matty, I didn't have anything to say much to him as far as any influence and he got a meeting with Matty Feldman and I remember there was Oscar and myself and Marvin Zalk and we said we've got to involve other parts of the population to support us in this.
(I) Was Matty the mayor by this time?
(H) Yes he was. He was the mayor. And through Matty we were able to get persons very important like Frank Burr who had a certain segment of the population, you know had great respect for Frank Burr. I don't know.
(R) The Methodist Church.
(H) The Methodist Church and Orville Sather, you know, although Orville we already had worked with him. Orville had already worked with us in Good Government and we got Frank Hall who split aay from TCO.
(R) And Zeleny
(H) Zeleny did not come of yet.
(R) But Frank split away from Zeleny and Vinnie Maher.
(H) right. That's right. And at that point, Frank was married to Rita Hall and Rita was important in the Catholic community and so we now had an important old Protestant section which again with the analysis that I had and Rita Hall with a section of the liberal Catholic who were now talking integration in the church because there had been some movement within the church to recognize the importance of integration and we had a number of meetings and this started to from the TPA you seen.
(R) And the first meeting was in our house.
(I) For TPA
(R) Yes. In fact both meetings were in our house.
(H) So we got the group together and we resolved first of all we got a good chairman and that was Jeo Coffee.
(R) Joe coffee was the first chairman.
(H) And then we dug up Leo Gamow who had been inactive as far as politics but who knew the anatomy of an election.
(R) He really was good. He taught everybody.
(H) And we began to organize a district by district organization to recognize who are positive voters and to spend our energy and so we had literally hundred and hundred of volunteers who went out and knocked on every door in Teaneck and asked people, Now did you feel about this and on the basis of that experience, we now had lists of so called positive voters.
(R) You know, plus voters.
(H) Plus voters. And we had lists and the technique was to get the plus voter out on election day which included not only calling them at six o'clock, driving them to the polls and getting babysitters for them if necessary and calling again if necessary at eight o'clock. I guess we involved more people at that point in that particular election, it was amazing, OK. Do you want me to stop? Of course the marvel of the whole thing was that the election that day was completely brought in our three candidates and don't ask me now who they were but
(I) It was the good guys. Coffee, Greenstone and Sather.
(H) Yes it was. And we gave up our first president. He had to resign.
(R) That's right because we had the meeting in our house and in walks Matty with this young man he's really shoving him at us. This is your next candidate for the Board of Ed. And we never heard of him before and it was Jay.
(H) Oh you're right. Jay Greenstone. Exactly. He brought him into our living room. That's right. You are right. So we realized that we need a Joe Coffee to head the ticket so we really had a very
(I) Now he had served before and
(H) Had retired, resigned, whatever, and we brought him back on so that of course at least solidified the
(R) He had been on the board before
(R) Oh sure he had.
(H) One term he had served. But he was busy because he was then like an assistant vice president or something.
(R) You don't have Saymour Herr down. Oh sure you do.
(I) Seymour was one of the original
(R) Harold Weinberger?
(I) Yes. That was the twentieth anniversary of that integration.
(R) They are going to have a party in September I understand.
(H) This is how, after that of course we became a very potent political force. I believe that most Board of Education candidates if not most council candidates probably for the next five, six years were elected on the basis of TPA.
(R) Well TPA then became involved in both elections in town. Not only board of ed but also the council.
(I) There's another area that all of this lead to -- public funds for public schools. You want to talk about that?
(R) Well it is Public Funds for Public Schools of New Jersey if you want to have the full title. Well that was really just a natural outgrowth of being involved and supporting the public schools because when the first bill to give public tax money to private schools came up which was to support busing of children who went to private and parochial schools, then a lot of us reacted against that because it was taking away support from public schools and we felt that that was a misuse of public money. That we don't support any religious organizational institution and so then later it got into more of the aspects of being unconstitutional but mainly we got involved because we felt that public schools needed the support of the government whether it was state or federal and that the obligation of our elected officials was to support the public sector and not divert tax money to the private sector and it was not just Teaneck people, you know. It wasn't just people from TCPA.
(I) This wasn't organized in your basement then.
(R) No. In the living room. Because what happened was there were, before we formed, when this bill came out to give money for busing there was a lot of reaction all over the state and there was some people who were executive directors of state organizations like American Jewish Congress and American Jewish Committee and National Council of Churches and ACLU and some of the newspaper reporters. I remember a couple of people from the Record and there was a big rally.
(H) Wasn't there a rally in the Bergen Mall?
(R) In the Bergen Mall, right. That was before, there was a big rally in the Bergen Mall and Bill Caldwell was there and a lot of people whose names I don't remember but who were whose names were known because they were executive directors of a lot of these organizations spoke and form I guess from that rally, came some kind of a loose organization and then those of us from Bergen County got together. Now I don't remember the sequence, whether we got, there was Alex Holman, Marvin Mausner. I don't remember all the people any more. In Teaneck who thought we could put pressure on Matty because he was then acting governor because governor Hughes was away on vacation in the Caribbean and when Hughes left, they were going to through legislature they were going to push through a vote on this bill without holding public hearings. And we melt that if we could get some public hearing and some information out, we'd have a better chance of having the legislature defeat that bill so we took ads in the local papers pressuring Matty.
(H) There was even an editorial in the Record.
(R) Right. Pressuring Matty by name you know to hold hearing in good faith and not push things through that
(H) Did he have the educational committee at the time?
(R) Yeah. He was head of the education committee. And it was, he shepherded that bill through which was the precedent making bill for all following laws that gave public money to parochial schools. In any event, because of the pressure the governor came back from his vacation and they held hearings and then of course people came down from all over the state and all kind of organizations to give testimony and well I gave testimony for TCPS. That's how I got started there. And when I was there, I met people who gave testimony from the league of Women Voters and from different community groups from other towns all over Bergen County and other counties and from PTAs and we sort of linked up and pretty soon, I can't remember the details any more but we were getting together and having meetings and pretty soon it was a Bergen County organization to preserve support for Public School and Nat Tamarin had been active in ACLU. He was from Englewood and he came and I guess as a result of collecting all those dollar bills from people who gave their money and their names through this big ad, it was a full page ad, called up Matty to hold public hearing, when we got acquainted with a lot of other people who felt the same way, a lot of neighbors running across my front lawn with dollar bills, so as a result of meeting all these people, we had a nucleus of a large group that was just Bergen County and then we contacted people who were executive directors of these various statewide organizations which were affiliated nationally such as ACLU and National Council of Jewish Women and Americans for Democratic Action, American Jewish Congress and a whole bunch and there was even National Catholic Laymens organization and we say that we really couldn't be effective just functioning in Bergen County and so we functioned as a statewide coalition and pretty soon we had membership of nineteen organizations and so although we started as a group of individuals in Teaneck and then spread to Bergen County, pretty soon the locus of the meeting moved to Newark because that's where most of these executive offices were and those people employed most of, those of us who were not employed or the men who were involved would meet at nights in our house or in somebody's house nearby but once it got involved with these people who were employed and who were directors of organizations, it was moved to Newark and we would hold daytime meetings or meetings right after their office hours but then it became much more effective because then we really had practical things like their office apparatus to use for mailing and their staff to help and much larger mailing list to contact because all the organizations would sent information out to their membership regarding different legislation and of course we were getting the legislators index every week which told about bills which were coming up and we could then be prepared to go down and testify against them.
(I) Well, the original bill, did that pass or was it defeated?
(R) That passed.
(H) Passed and its constitutionality was upheld. (END OF TAPE 1 - SIDE B BEGIN TAPE II - SIDE A)
(I) After the passage of the first bill with public fund of non-public schools then what was the next
(R) Well the different legislators over the next few years introduced something like twenty or thirty odd bills for giving different types of financial aid to non-public schools. Most of them never got out of committee but a few did and one that gave a tremendous amount of money was to give money for textbooks and equipment and supplies to non-public schools. The textbooks were supposed to be on loan but in reality they became the property of the private and parochial schools and the equipment was quite expensive and quite sophisticated and the information that we had was that things like microscopes for a high school lab were so expensive that it was far in excess of the kinds of microscopes that were giving to college labs and most public school high schools of New jersey brought legal action to challenge that. It seemed unconstitutional and inappropriate use of public money. And we won it in Federal District Court. The textbook loan remained, that part was not abrogated but the other part of the law was and as a result, there was a statewide auction of all of the equipment that had been placed into the private and parochial schools. Now you just have to realize that when you say non-public schools, about 91% of all the non-public schools were religiously affiliated. And so that was one of the bases in which the case was won. And there was a tremendous catalogue which also used up money that was about three inches thick at least that listed every piece of equipment located in every school throughout the state and that was circularized because some public school districts wanted to buy them and put in bids. some companies wanted to buy them, some firms wanted to buy some of the more sophisticated equipment. Some individuals put in for some of the equipment and furniture.
(H) In reality through most of the stuff went back to the parochial schools.
(R) Most of the stuff went back because they put in very low cost bids like $25 for something and most people didn't want to stir up any trouble with the religious groups so they allowed it to stand and so therefore they bought it for no cost at all. They bought it back. So the state really lost out and the people lost out because all that money came from our taxes and was gone. But it meant that it wasn't going to continue after that year ro so. And so we've won that case.
(H) Tuition Tax Credits.
(R) We didn't have to bring that up.
(H) Oh sure. That's what won that from the Supreme Court.
(I) Was it on the state or the federal level?
(R) It was not the same one as the federal tuition tax credit. It was slightly different. I don't remember.
(H) It was a tax credit.
(R) But it was a credit for parents who pay tuition to private and parochial schools and that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Leo Pfeffer who is a renouned constitutional lawyer and who has appeared before the Supreme Court many times in similar types of cases won that case for us.
(I) Well that hasn't been the end of tuition tax credits.
(R) No. You better not believe it. You know that its been happening at the federal level with all kinds of ploys and all kinds of guises to get it through. School prayer is another kind of things, you know. So Public Funds for Public Schools did win two cases. We didn't bring suit on some because other states had brought suit and won. Now TCPS was a charter member of Public Funds for Public Schools of New Jersey. As more and more bills proliferated all over the country for the use of public monies for private schools, other groups which were similar to Public Funds in New Jersey in other states came together and formed a national coalition called the National Coalition for Public Education and Religious Liberty and National PTA is a part of that. Many of the groups that belonged to our coalition, NEA, see we have NJEA and NEA is at the national lever and al the other groups which are national organizations, National Council of Jewish Woman, National Council of Churches. If you want this, I'll give you a booklet that has everything in it.
(I) I seem to remember about twenty one on the list.
(R) Actually we have nineteen. It has varied. There have been some smaller local groups which have gone out of existence and then we have had a few other groups join us in the interim so it always seems to hover about nineteen or twenty.
(I) Are you still active?
(R) Yes we are still active. We are not as active as we were primarily because everything has now gotten into the courts as a way of resolving it. Of course you had a lot of activity on the prayer in the schools and on the equal access bill but everything has been at a federal level. There isn't that much happening in New Jersey. Fortunately. Also I must admit that my activity had diminished since I went back to work so that.
(I) And all of this time when you were so active in TCPS and so forth, you were not working.
(R) No. I wasn't working during the height of the activity but I went back to work what fourteen years ago, something like that, thirteen fourteen years ago. so it is limited. For one thing, I can't run down to give testimony in Trenton. I did go once or twice. I took a day, a personal day or something and I went down and I can't go running to Newark for meetings. I arrange for meetings to be after I finish work. But how much of that can you do, you know? And also because in reality reaction has now shifted tot he federal level and we now have the national coalition which you know deals with that in Congress and they go and lobby in Congress or go and take activity at a national lever.
(I) Is there anything else that you can think of that you'd like to talk about. Do you want to go back and talk some more about TPA or any of the other.
(H) I think we've covered. I think other people
(R) I don't think we have to milk it.
(H) Other people who have been involved with us are going to repeat the story.
(I) Are you still active
(H) No. I am not active in anything any more. I just sculpt.
(R) You haven't seen his sculpture. You have to come over one day and see his beautiful sculpture.
(I) Are you exhibiting?
(H) No. My exhibit is only at 412 Winthrop Road.
(I) Thank you both very much, Ruth and Harold Glick.