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This interview is being conducted by Betty Rook of 104 Oakdene Avenue, Teaneck, NJ in the home of Mr. Mohammad Khan, 141 Oakdene Avenue, Teaneck, NJ. The date is May 16,1984.
(I) Mr. Khan, what brought you to Teaneck?
(N) My circle of friends. We knew some people who were living here in Teaneck and we used to visit them and it got to the point where we decided we would buy our own house here and we looked around and we got this house in 1975. It was nine years ago, about. We liked the community, we liked the area and the community has grown ever since. I am here nine years. It seems like it has more than doubled with the friends we know and the people we know. We used to live in New York, Flushing, and we were newly married so after we had our first son, we decided that we would like to move to a rural area and Teaneck wasn't exactly rural but it was away from the city so that's when we decided to move to Teaneck. Well we have a community here of I would say about 150 families but not every family is active.
(I) Are they all in Teaneck? Are they all Teaneck residents?
(N) 90% are all in Teaneck, yeah. Some are in Ridgefield Park, some are in Bogota, some are scattered, you know, but the core of the community is in Teaneck and when we bought this land, it was with the idea of making a mosque. I think it was in 79. We bought in on Fabry Terrace, 320 Fabry Terrace to be exact. And that's the end of the street, you know. From a residential point of view, it is not really a desirable location because it is right next to the highway. And it is next to a bridge. It is in the low lying area because it is at the end of the street which slopes down and it is also at the end of the street from Glenpointe, Glenwood Avenue site, but for our mosque it was very nice because we didn't want too much crowd, we didn't want too much interference. You know, our religion which is Islam, by the way I am no authority to talk on it, probably you know more about it than I do
(I) You explain what you feel you would like to explain, please.
(N) Yeah. No, the thing is we are born into it. That's why you probably not (inaudible) you read about it and try to find out about it but I mean our religion is basically very simple. We have no music, we have no loud noises, we have no bells or anything like that to announce anything. We basically pray in the mosque, theoretically five times a day you are supposed to but not in this age and time, not many people get that kind of time. When the prayers have been lectured, we follow a leader and basically it is all done, you know one person reads and the other follows and so forth. Well that's about the religion. Community wise we are pretty close here I think. I feel pretty close to the other families. We have close ties with each other. 150 families are a lot of families if you want to visit every one. And I would say about 20% of them are fairly active which makes about 30 families. This organization is a non-profit organization and we are struggling for funds and what makes it more difficult is the fact that we are not allowed to take any interest, we are not allowed to deal with any interest, we are not to take or give any interest, so we are, and we do feel that we have enough support to build it. It is just a question of time. A question of maybe six months more or a year more or two more.
But we are not borrowing from any bank, we are not borrowing from any foreign country, we are not borrowing from any foreign organization. We have no interest of taking any interest or borrowing on interest at all. Which is one notch more difficult I would say. The township was very helpful. Milton Robbins was very helpful and he still is. Mr. Lombardo is very helpful. We had a variance that we went through but unfortunately I think at the end of the third year when we should build (?) but you know, I am not in the office there any more. I was when this struggle was going on but we have every two years jumps so I am out of the office right now but there are people who are working as hard or even harder than we did when we were officers. So hopefully in a year or so, we will have this. Now Fabry Terrace has gone into a lot of changes itself. And I don't know if you are familiar with the master plan. They want to connect the Fabry Terrace to the other street, what is it, Harding Street I think. I think it is Harding, the one going north. See we gave land to township and we acquired land from the township (inaudible) and now they want to make it turn and connect and when it did make a turn, it went to our land so we gave that piece of land and we took the street with the (inaudible) into kind of our area. But this was all done
Hopefully as I said, in 85 or so we will have the mosque. There was another temple, by the way, down the street. Were you familiar with it? Before this new building went up. You know there is an office building across the Oakdene Avenue. There used to be, at one time I went there and I saw it, it was surrounded by overgrown bushes and so forth, I think it was the Tall Cedar of Lebanon Temple and we thought of taking that because it would have been very ideal for us but we were too late. I think somebody had already bought that piece and turned it into an office building. It is quite a built up area now. They built another level on top of that and quite, but I was very much interested in connecting the Oakdene Avenue to Glenwood Avenue. That would have been a big advantage to us but I found out that they don't have any plan to do that. Also traffic wise we were hurt quite a bit because after the Glenpointe was built, you see, they made no left turn onto Glenwood Avenue and anybody going to our place from Bogota, Ridgefield Park, southern Teaneck, now have to go via Fyke Lane which is a big lot around. You know, it is a very big center.
First of all, you don't get many people to come to a religious organization, you know that and any little hurt will put you that much far behind. They say, oh now we have to make a big detour. So I talked to the township about this thing but unfortunately the pattern was such, the traffic recommendation by the township traffic department said that they could not make any left turns onto Glenwood Avenue. At least what we wanted was to go into the Glenpointe project and be able to come out onto the Glenwood and make a left turn. But that was also not in the study. But now to go to Fabry Terrace from this end of the town, you have to go to Fyke Lane, go around Glenwood and then come back. Maybe after we have the mosque, we will apply again for a left turn because I don't see any reason. You know, you go into Glenpointe Shopping Center, you come out onto the Glenwood Avenue and you should be able to make a left there. It is as simple as that. And they say no, it is a traffic backup down there. I can't see that much traffic buildup in there right now but Glenpointe has changed quite a bit of traffic flow in that area. Of course, when we moved in here, my son was five months old, four months old. Now he is in the third grade. So you know it is funny because the people we bought the house from, they said, oh your son will go only half a block to the school and we thought, you know, what are you talking, he is five years down the road, and here we are. He is about to move out of that school in fact because they've closed down other schools and they are moving the children away so now my daughter will be going there probably and son will be moving out. So so many changes are happening. It is amazing. Township is very helpful. All along. They came to our groundbreaking ceremony also, you know. We had the groundbreaking ceremony, we almost started construction, but unfortunately something happened and we had to stop.
(I) Have your years in Teaneck proven to be of benefit to you and your family, Mr. Khan?
(N) Oh definitely yes.
(I) In what ways, specifically?
(N) Well in many ways. I would say the education is one. The school system I think is one of the best. My son is in the third grade. My daughter will be going to school in September and that's one of the reasons I think Teaneck is the place, wonderful for schools. My daughter is so keen to go to school. She is not in the school yet, she knows the names of all the teachers, she makes up the homework and she is doing the homework and things like that. What other ways I would say? You know, Holy Name is a very, Holy Name Hospital was built, that's another thing that was built after we came here. And three children out of four we had in Holy Name. Our son was born in New York and after that, all the three children we had were in Holy Name and that's a very good hospital, a very good experience we had there. Very close by, very modern, very good service. It is nice to know, I mean, with the children
(I) If you need it, it is there. Is there anything that you think or feel you would like to see changed in Teaneck?
(N) The first thing is the taxes. It is residential. We have to realized, you know, our fire department is a paid fire department. We don't have volunteer fire department like the other towns. They are very good I think. Police department is a very good and big department. We have to pay for that. But the taxes are fairly high in Teaneck. I think library is very good. You know I was surprised. I found the books in library which are belonging to India. My grandfather was a range officer. He used to go hunting and he went out among all of the wildlife and I found at least half a dozen books written by British author. You might have heard of him. Jim Corbett. He wrote about hunting in India. He was born and brought up in India and he had written lot of books, at least I read about five or six from the Teaneck Library about this hunting tigers and leopards in India. That was quite a thriller. I never thought you could find it in a place like Teaneck, you know. So I would say they have a good collection of books and it is a progressing town I think, progressing city, progressing community.
(I) And you feel comfortable.
(N) Very comfortable here, yeah.
(I) Mr. Khan, our grateful thanks for sharing your thoughts and your enjoyment of Teaneck. We appreciate it very much.
(N) I think I learned more than I gave.
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