|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.|
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||March 26, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (9/30/1984)|
(I) That’s plenty. Tell me what, who you worked with on the Council of St. Paul’s?
(N) I worked with Bill Bing.
(I) What does the Council do at St. Paul’s? Do they run the whole church?
(N) They run the whole church. Bing was the President of the Council. I was the Property Chairman. I was the person in charge of the property. I took care of the lighting, the amplifier systems, the grounds and stuff like that. And the building, the painting and stuff like that.
(I) You were in charge of that. Did you have all volunteers helping you?
(N) Well for certain part I did. I had certain members of the Council to help me. I had certain members of the church to help me. Like the painting and something like that. The amplifier system, that, what I couldn’t do was done by Lindsay Electronics and lighting was done by (his brother owns Foodtown) In fact his brother was on the Council. He passed away. Panzenhagen.
(I) Can you tell me a little about St. Paul’s? Their youth program. Did your children go through them?
(N) My children didn’t go through the youth programs there. My children went through Sunday school there just like I did. We didn’t participate in the Boy Scouts. They were in another Boy Scout Troop. They didn’t belong (inaudible) not the CYO. They had another youth organization down there. They didn’t participate in it.
(I) What do you think Teaneck will be like in another ten years?
(N) The truth? If they don’t watch it, it will be just like New York.
(I) Okay. You mentioned Toricelli. Have you worked with Toricelli or have you done anything in politics?
(N) No. I am not involved that much in politics. I have worked with Bob. I have had Bob as a guest speaker at a couple of occasions in the Legion and I went to a couple of dedications with him. I had him for a couple of speeches on the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board and we had speeches given at ceremonies and participated in since he got involved in politics. I like the man. He is young. He is ambitious. And I think he is going to go a long way.
(I) Good. Otherwise you have not been in politics at all?
(N) Well I have been in politics, in and out all the time, being involved in the American Legion and that, you know. I have a lot of problems because Matty Feldman who I’m very close with and worked with him as the Chairman of the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board was the Chairman of the Democratic Party. Nelly Gross went to school with him. I played football with him. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party. I know Johnny Gannamord. I know Bill McDowell. I am involved with all of them.
(I) Are you a registered Democrat or Republican?
(N) No I am a registered Republican but I have worked with Democrats and I have worked with Republicans.
(I) Ever work actively for anyone getting into Office in Teaneck?
(I) Do you think it is a good idea for someone in your position not to?
(N) Well we always had to handle the policy. The closest thing I got, two years ago I was going to run for Council. If I got elected, I was going to retire. They can’t stop you. But then I had a heart attack and I dropped out the picture.
(I) How do you picture your retirement?
(N) Well I hope I enjoy it.
(I) What are you planning to do?
(N) I am going to to Poconos.
(I) To live?
(N) We are having a place built and it should be ready in another couple of weeks.
(I) Why do you think you son James decided to stay in Teaneck and live here?
(N) Well because he isn’t married. It is very simple. He, in fact he is going to move out soon anyway. He was going to probably move up to New York State to where he works. Right now he has an hour and a half ride to work but he is home, he don’t pay no board and he has a good living and I guess he likes his house. That’s why he is home.
(I) What do you think the strengths and the weaknesses of this town are?
(N) They cater to too many people, that’s the weakness.
(I) And what do you think is the strength?
(N) The strength is that as long as we don’t change this type of government, what we have here in town is an independent; I think we will stay together. As soon as you start bringing Republicans and Democrats in there, I think you are going to have problems. (Inaudible) Let him take care of the employees, leave the politics away from it.
(I) What would you change if you could change something in Teaneck?
(N) What would I change? School system. Let them go right back to the community basis like it used to be when I was a kid. We went to the school in own neighborhood.
(I) Okay. And where, do you go (end tape 1, side B – begin tape 2)?
(N) Well I just went to the ball game. I don’t think it’s a safe place to walk around with my wife. I even worry about going to a ball game.
(I) Where do you go?
(N) Yankee Stadium. That’s all I’ve been for the last four years.
(I) You never go to the Meadowlands or anything?
(N) Meadowlands. I go to the Meadowlands for Football. I’ve gone there for soccer and I’ve gone down there, I haven’t been in Byrne Arena yet. In fact I signed a petition to change its name. And I’ve been in the race track.
(I) When you said you would like to change the schools, let’s go back to that, in Teaneck, that’s the only thing you would change. You’d go back to what?
(N) I would like to see it go back to the way it was when I went to school. The neighborhood schools. I think it is a lot better for the kids and everything else. You waste more time and gas and everything on these buses sending them all around. I don’t think they are learning any more than if they stayed right in their own community.
(I) And what do you think about the closing of the four schools?
(N) Well, if you don’t have the students, you are going to have to close them. This is a big upkeep. You have to have a good program to keep the schools up to shape instead of having them fall apart because you got to rebuild them again and it takes a lot of money. But I think you don’t know what’s going to happen down here in Glenpointe. You don’t know how many people are going to move in here. It is just like me. I am selling my house. I don’t have no children going to school now but I may sell my house to somebody that is going to come in with six kids or four kids. How do I know how many is going to move in?
(I) Do you agree with the schools they chose to close?
(N) I really haven’t paid too much attention. But I do know from years ago that they did talk about closing No. 3 School. It’s one of the old schools in town.
(I) They are closing Emerson.
(N) That’s Emerson School. Eugene Field, that’s the last grammar school they built. But where are they going to put the kids. Hawthorne School, they just got done getting rid of the portable classrooms down there. I think they should have gotten rid of them a long time ago but they just got rid of them,
(I) Are they safe firewise?
(N) Yes, they are safe but I mean why ruin the grounds when you don’t need them. They, you know when they put these portable classrooms in, being involved in all these schools all the time with fire alarms and everything else like that, I always see empty classrooms in school. I have never seen every classroom filled up in the school year. Even in grammar school.
(I) What do you think about Washington Irving, closing that? Is that a good plant?
(N) Well yes and no. I think you have the kindergarten over there. I’m not sure what you have there now. But I know the Board of Education wants to use that building so they are not going get rid of it. They have to get out of the town house.
(I) Are they all safe our schools? Do you consider them all safe?
(N) Well as I said to you, I went to this school over here, Washington Irving; they built a new school behind it because it wasn’t safe. So they moved out of there and they made it the recreation building and they’ve been using it ever since. Right. That’s forty years ago.
(I) Are there any other schools that you would question as far as safety?
(N) Well the only real old schools that I would question about being built-in fire stops and things like that would be No. 1 School and No. 3 School.
(I) What is No. 1 School?
(N) Down on Oakdene Avenue, Longfellow. And Emerson. That’s the ones. Now here, here’s No. 2 School right here. This picture was taken back in the 20s, still standing there.
(I) Do you remember any stories about the fire department that you could tell us?
(N) Well just what I have written and what I got from my father that Company #1 which was on Forest Avenue here by Carlery Flannery’s and then it moved across the street to the gas station. It also was in a little white house back here. That was one of the first companies started back in 1904 and at that time, they used to have different sections that they called here in Teaneck as Upper Manhattan Heights which was up here by Bryant School and then there was the West Englewood Park section and then there was the Lowell Teaneck section. And then the other company which was on Morning Terrace, not Morningside Terrace, Kenwood Place and that was built in 1908 and that, there first apparatus was a house in Douglas Barn on Lindon Avenue and then they built the fire house on Kenwood Place in 1912 and that served there and then in 1953, they moved to the fire house on Cedar Lane. And then the Masons took over that building. Co. #3 which at that time was known as Company # 1 which was organized in 1911, that was down on Morningside Terrace and that firehouse was built in 1913 and Teaneck Fire Department still uses that. And then the fourth fire house was in down in Glenwood Park and that was built in 1911 and then they built a house in 1923 they moved up to their new quarters which was up on Railroad Avenue, Old Hemlock Terrace down there by the trolley line and then that had a fire in it and burned down but (inaudible) that’s when we only had three stations in Teaneck and then we got the paid department. And in 1968 they built this new firehouse over here on Windsor Road.
(I) Do you remember the original Mansions of Teaneck, where they were, what they were like?
(N) You mean the firehouses?
(I) No, the Mansions. The big, huge homes.
(N) Oh you mean Phelps Manor. No I only have pictures of that down in where the town hall used to be and the library and Holy Name Hospital. The only old thing that I remember, couple of old things that I remember in town, when I was a kid I used to go up and play with the guinea hens and the sheep when Ackerman had the place where the telephone company used to be. He used to have a big Chestnut Tree there and that used to run all the way back down to almost Queen Anne Road, to what they call Queen Anne Road now and down through the Palisades there. And then there was an old school house down on Fort Lee Road, not Fort Lee Road, pardon me, River Road. That was an old school house. That burned down. That later went into a farm. Then there used to be the two gatehouses that I remember down on Fort Lee Road, was what they used to call a Gate House. They later burned down and then they widened Fort Lee Road and then there was one down by Hackensack River. Then I remember Heart's Restaurant used to be called the old Fairleigh Dickinson down there, used to be the girl’s dormitory at one time. You came off Cedar Lane down there to where the apartments are now.
(I) What was Cedar Lane like? What did it look like?
(N) Well Cedar Lane, I can remember when it was a cobblestone road going down from Queen Anne Road down to Palisades Avenue and naturally they had a narrower bridge down there. I remember when there was a diner and a gas station on the south side of where Louie’s are in there. Where the Big Bear used to be. And I you had the diner on the other side of the street. You had a diner where the parking lot is now for the bank. Then you had the old movie theater, then you moved it. The Big Bear use to be next to the Teaneck Theater. And you have the five and dime down there. Then actually from Elm Avenue down used to be all woods.
(I) Where did people go food shopping?
(N) Well you had the Big Bear which was on one side of the street and you had I think it was an Acme or something down in there on Cedar Lane and you used to have an A&P or a Grand Union or whatever it was down here on Queen Anne Road. I remember the National Store right down here by the second store in from Forest Avenue there used to be a National Store. There used to be another one up here on West Englewood and there used to be all little small grocery stores.
(I) What was West Englewood area like?
(N) West Englewood Avenue down by the bank and all that was all sand. The only thing that was there was the old, well the post office used to be in the circle building down in there next to the bank. It used to be a big sand pit down there. I remember that.
(I) Do you remember, did you ever take the trolley?
(N) I took the trolley over to Palisades Park when I was a kid I used to take that.
(I) Did you ever ride the train, go to the train station?
(N) I took the train down here in West Englewood and went into New York. I used to do that with my mother and father at times.
(I) Where did the train take you?
(N) You used to get the train down here at West Englewood. They used to have a gray shack down there and we used to get the ticket and take it into Weehawken and get off and go in that way.
(I) We had a railroad station too down by Cedar Lane.
(N) You had a railroad station at the foot of Manor Court there.
(I) How many people would use that train a day?
(N) Well quite a few of them. I remember living on Oregon Court when I was a youngster, let’s see, there was Millard’s, there was Canflax, Jones, Madden, there was five of them out of thirteen houses that used to take the train into New York, and Rogers, they used to work in New York. Cause they used to walk together down West Englewood Avenue.
(I) Was it good transportation?
(N) I guess it was a good transportation. Quite a few people still use the trains and they are trying to bring them back. And I can remember down behind us there was, it burned down one New Year’s Eve, used to be a nursing home on Englewood Avenue.
(I) Was there always a sanitation department, do you remember?
(N) Yes. No, the sanitation department was picked up, they were by the private owners they had in town, there was about six or seven of them.
(I) They were always private?
(N) It was always that way. They always picked up the garbage. The town never got involved in that.
(I) How long did you wife work for Bendix after you married her?
(N) Two years. And then we had children and the children grew up and then she worked for Garcia and now she works for the Holy Name Hospital.
(I) What does she do at Holy Name?
(N) She’s the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator.
(I) Does she belong to any organizations?
(N) She belongs to the American Legion; she’s the past County President. She served as the Unit President of the local club.
(I) Has she been active in politics at all?
(N) No just working for different candidates at times, that’s all.
(I) How do you think she feels about bringing children up in Teaneck?
(N) Well, she was happy about it. She was active in the PTA at that time.
(I) Do you think you will miss living in Teaneck?
(N) Well I expect to be back quite a bit. It only takes me an hour and half to get back. I am still going to keep some of my affiliations with the Americans Legion.
(I) Tell me about working on the Library Committee.
(N) Well the Library Committee was formed in October, 1973 and the Chairman was Matty Feldman at that time and Gary Sage was the Treasurer and we came up, we figured the library was small and we needed a larger library to serve the 40,000+ people in this community and I thought it was a good idea and I was asked to serve on the committee and I said I would be very happy to. The only thing is when we started this Library Committee, we asked, like I say, 1976, we figured it was a good year, Bicentennial Year, and that we would get a whole 1,976 people to pledge $1,000 each and we would have enough money to start and do what we wanted to do. And I served with quite a few people on this committee, there was Mrs. Taylor and Charlie Strickler, Mr. Robins, Richard Lathberg, Elinor Kielichek, and Sister Kielichek, and Sister Evelyn from Holy Name Hospital, Dr. Berlin and his wife, and like I say, I am interested in this community and I have worked on a good many affairs with Matty Feldman and that’s how we started out. As you know, we ran into trouble with Mrs. Stanarelli with it and everything else and that’s what happened.
(I) Who did you work mainly, what did you do for that committee? Did you do any research?
(N) Well I went out and I got pledges for the committee and went to different organizations. I went to the City Club, I spoke at the City Club, I spoke to the Rotary Club and I spoke to the Kiwanis Club, I spoke to the Woman’s Club. I got donations. I went out and collected different donations from different people.
(I) What was it like working with Matty Feldman? What kind of person is he?
(N) He’s a tremendous fellow. I knew Matty before he got into politics. I knew Matty through Veteran Organizations. He was the State Commander of the JWV when I first met him. He moved in this community. I got to know him better when he ran for Mayor of the town. He served this town as Mayor and then he went into the Senate and I worked with him for the last ten years as the Chairman of the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board and I worked very good with him.
(I) How would you describe him?
(N) Oh I would describe him as a fairly young man, ambitious. He liked to work for the community and other people and I would say he would give you the shirt off his back.
(I) Have you worked for any other special projects in Teaneck?
(N) No that’s the only thing I worked for was that and the Patriotic Observance Board. You know I ran all the
(I) What happened to the money for the library? Do you know just what happened to the
(N) Well, the money that we had was turned in and a couple of debts that we had to pay, we paid the debts that we had. But not too many people asked for their money back. What did we gave back but it all went for the use of the library.
(I) Do you like the new library?
(N) Yes. I think it is very nice. The concept is still there with the library that we had years ago and they a lot of it in contact and remodeled the rest of it.
(I) Have you, did you have to go down there to set your boxes and make decisions for that? Do you do that?
(N) Oh I was involved with the master plan of the library, putting the alarm system in and all that, yes.
(I) The fire department is very strict about the opening of the library. Do you remember what that was about?
(N) Well number one, they didn’t contend with all the codes that we have in the State of New Jersey. There was shortcuts they were trying to, and in fact the Council misappropriated money now to put the sprinkler system in that should have been in a long time ago. The town adopted the Volker Code; they knew what they had to do.
(I) Now you were telling me about the Volker Code. Paul Volker you were talking about.
(N) Well the Volker Code is a uniform code that was adopted by the State of New Jersey. You know, years ago you would come here to Teaneck and say, hey, I want to put up this building and we say we want ¾ inch sheet rock and you can say well I know an old building in Fair Lawn and I only have to put in ½ inch sheet rock and the architects didn’t know what they were doing and each town was fighting. Now it is all uniform. When you fix a building up in Trenton, you put a building up in Morristown; you build a building in Teaneck. It has to be built all the same way. You have the same codes so the architect knows what he is doing.
(I) And what is this called?
(N) The Volker Code.
(I) Did you work on that or for it?
(N) No. (End of tape)