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: Florence (F) and Moses (M) Sultzer
INTERVIEWER: Lou Schwartz
DATE OF INTERVIEW:    March 8, 1984
TRANSCRIBER: Jackie Kinney (11/1985)

My name is Lou Schwartz and I am interviewing Florence Sultzer who is being observed by her husband at the same time.

(I) Florence, when did you come to Teaneck? 

(F) We came in 1940.

(I) And why did you come to Teaneck?

(F) Because the schools were exceptionally good and our two children were ready for junior high school and senior high school at the time.

(I) And what did you find when you moved to Teaneck?

(F) First of all, we found the schools were very good. We were very pleased with the schools and we also had a Jewish Community Center and we joined the Jewish Community Center and the children, of course, were active there and they enjoyed the schools.

(I) Were there big differences in Teaneck physically or in any way then as compared to now?

(F) There was a great difference. There were far more rural.  The street we lived on, Edgemont Place corner of Prince, was a dirt road and you used to go sleigh riding down that hill to Teaneck Road and you never had to worry about traffic. 

(I) When you say you, you used to go sleigh riding? 

(F) I went sleigh riding myself. 

(I) with Mo or without Mo?

(F) No, he didn't. The children went but I went down alone on a six foot Flexible Flyer.

(M) We had one of those big Flexible Flyers that three could sit on, you know.

(I) When you say Teaneck was rural, what do you mean? Just that you had dirt roads?

(F) Well no, no. It was a very, well I would call it a very substantial

(I) Were there farms?

(F) No, not, there was the farm on Palisade Avenue. It is still there in fact but not as big as it was then. 

(I) What's the name of it?

(F) They grew everything there. 

(M) Can I say something?

(I) Yes, at any point. Just jump in.

(M) Teaneck itself was the, the amount of land that you usually build on would be about 75 x 100. I mean it wasn't cramped. There was plenty of space for your garden and all that. Most of the homes had nice gardens around them so that the entire community was very attractive. There was plenty of trees and lawns and so forth which made it very nice. Also the founding fathers you might say, at the time they were very much interested in developing it for the benefit of those who wished to live there. And that made it attractive besides from the fact that the schools also had a good reputation.

(I) Did the reputation, did the schools live up to its reputation?

(M) Oh yes.

(I) In what way would you say?

(M) Well the children enjoyed the teachers and the subjects that they were being taught and how they were being taught.

(F) However there was one instance that my daughter complained about. She used to be very much interested in art. In fact she was studying art in New York at the time. And she wanted to submit to the scholastic competition which is the national competition in Pennsylvania and the teacher, her art teacher, didn't encourage her but she submitted her portfolio anyway and won a scholarship.

(M) To the (?)John Heron Art Institute.

(F) As a matter of fact, she had a choice of two. One was Syracuse University and one was to the John Heron in Indianapolis and she took the John Heron.

(I) And you attribute it to the school system?

(F) Well not the Art Department. Outside of that, I think they enjoyed the English Department very much. I remember Mr. Moore who was very well. . he was very well liked. And to this day, he is a friend of ours.

(I) Can you think of any other things in Teaneck at that time that stands out in your memory?

(F) Well of course the war came on in 41 and that was, everything was well organized as far as civilian defense was concerned. Mo was district air aid warden and I was out during the day and we had some very fine neighbors, one a Mrs. Eslinger next door to us, and she saw me out one morning in the winter time at eight o'clock. I had just come from out of the shower when I hear the sirens going and

(M) It was just practice.

(F) No, that was a real siren. Of course we didn't know whether it was a real raid or not.

(M) No, but that was the idea of it to be prepared.

(I) You mean an air aid drill.

(F) Air aid drill. But we didn't know it was an air aid drill at eight o'clock in the morning. He was already out and I jumped into my, I had a pair of slacks always ready to put on. In those days, women didn't wear slacks but I still had a pair of slacks to put on.

(I) Mo's slacks or your own?

(F) No, my own. They were too big for him. They were too big for me then. And I got outdoors and our neighbor, Mrs. Eslinger, saw me in little slippers and she saw that I didn't have stockings on and she threw a pair of woolen socks that belonged to her son who was then in the Pacific so I put on the wool socks.

(I) Where did you work. Did you work?

(F) I taught. When I was in Teaneck, I taught adult education in Fort Lee and in Teaneck. Creative stitchery.

(I) How did you get to work?

(F) Mo drove me.

(I) Where did you work Mo?

(M) I worked, we had a plant in North Bergen, a factory which we processed furs, fur skins so we could make coats and so on. The American Fur Dyeing Company. We had a building which we put up there in North Bergen and we operated a number of years.

(I) And you drove to work I assume. 

(M) Oh sure.

(I) In other words, transportation didn't effect you. What kind of transportation existed in Teaneck in those days?

(F) We were able to, I was able to get to New York right from Teaneck Road by bus and there was a 72 that took us to Hackensack.

(M) We were also very near to the bridge, Route 4.

(I) So transportation was essentially the same as it is now. Would you say that?

(F) I would say about the same. 

(I) Same bus roads almost.

(F) There was a 72 bus on Teaneck that went up to Dumont and then to Hackensack. I don't know much about the bus system today.

(I) They are about the same. The cost is slightly different.

(F) Very different. Five cents.

(I) Can you think of anything else in those days that stands out in your mind?

(F) I belonged to the Red Cross, that was during the war. We had rationing of course, rationing of gasoline. We were very careful about that. I mean you followed all the rules.

(I) Did you find yourselves shorthanded as far as being able to travel because of those rules with the gas?

(F) We didn't travel much.

(M) The only travel I did was the regular bus line to the plant:,

(I) Oh, you did take the bus?

(F) You mean the car don't you? You used the car.

(M) But we had a bus line to the train too. 

(F) You took the bus to the train? 

(M) At times.

(F) At times you did. 

(I) Anything else that stands out in your mind? You said you worked for the Red Cross. In what way?

(F) I had some sort of a certificate.

(I) Did they have a chapter here in Teaneck?

(F) I don't know whether it was in Teaneck or whether it was in Bergen County. It must have been in Teaneck.

(I) I don't think they have any in Teaneck now. In Englewood.

(F) I guess because of the war. I mean everything was so well organized at that time. We did everything that we possibly could for the war effort in our own way.

(I) You say you found the schools good. How did you find the town government? How did that strike you? If it did in any way.

(F) Very efficient. We were very pleased with everything. 

(M) I would say that all the

(F) It was Mr. Volcker I think that during our early years who was the manager of the town. In fact, Boyle who was our neighbor on the other side, on Edgemont Place, became the his son was the reporter that was killed out in 

(I) When, during the war?

(F) No, he was trying to . .

(M) I don't remember.

(I) All right. This Mr. Volcker, you mean the one who is now the head of the Federal Reserve.

(F) That's right.

(I) How long did you stay in Teaneck then? 

(F) We lived in the house until 1976.

(I) And what made you leave?

(F) Our taxes went up sky high and we couldn't manage. 

(I) How high were your taxes then? 

(F) Then in 76 they were $2,400.

(I) $2,400. Today they would be double sky high.

(M) When we started in Teaneck, our taxes were about $200.

(I) And when you left, they were about $2,400. And if you would have stayed, now it would be almost double.

(F) Yeah. We couldn't manage.

(I) That was the only reason why you left? 

(F) Why we sold the house? Really yes.

(M) Well the war effected us too.

(F) Well that was before. We had reverses and we couldn't

(I) At this time, the children had grown up. And have left. Flown the coop.

(F) Well our house was an open house.  My daughter came back from  college with her husband and a baby.  He went to Yale and she did art work in New York and our son around 1950, after he graduated Rutgers, he went to Michigan State and got a masters and then was taken into the Marines. He was in the Marines for three years. So they were out of the house but I had my mother living with me for twelve years after my father died and my brother in law, Joe Smith, had lived with us before we came to Teaneck and he didn't want to come to Teaneck. It was too far.

(I) Who was this Joe smith?

(M) He was Smith and Dale. They were great comedians in vaudeville.

(I) And that's your brother in law. That was Mo's brother.

(F) Mo's brother yeah. And Mo's sister came to live with us but she was an opera fan. 

(I) Not in vaudeville.

(F) No she was an opera fan and she was our maiden sister and every Friday night, she went to the opera and the 80 bus I think left New York at 11:00 and sometimes she would miss the last part of the opera in order to make the bus.

(I) The bus didn't run all night.

(F) No, and Mo used to worry and I said, well as long as you are worried, you might as well go down to Teaneck Road and wait for her.

(I) You didn't worry about walking out at night to go down there?

(F) Oh no.

(I) Do you worry now about walking out at night and going down there? 

(F) Maybe down there I would.

(M) We don't have occasion to, we don't have any occasion now. And also on the street that we live, down further is the Jewish Community Center. Prince Street. It was originally started as like a one family house and then they moved and they built the building which they have today on Prince Street.

(I) Were you members? 

(M) Yes.

(I) During this whole period?

(F) We were members for about twenty five years. And then we decided that we wanted to join the Reformed temple so we joined the Reformed temple in Tenafly. Temple Sinai. Because our children belong there, our daughter, and she came back to this area.

(T) And now you left in 1976. How long were you away from Teaneck? 

(F) Three years.

(I) Where did you go to, what town?

(F) Englewood. We couldn't find an apartment in Teaneck. We looked for two years. There was nothing available. You know how things were, there was no construction.

(F) I went to every. .

(M) Places were filled.

(F) It is still that way.

(I) You came back to Teaneck when? 

(F) 1979.

(I) Well, the big changes took place while you were still here. Among the changes that took place was the whole question of integration. How did that effect you?

(F) Oh well that didn't effect us at all. I mean it felt very natural.

(M) As a matter of fact, the Jewish element built up more and more.

(F) But we had an influx of every color and race and I thought it was only natural and very

(I) Was it true where you lived or up further from where you lived?

(F) Before 1976, we didn't, there wasn't much of that in our neighborhood. That is as far as Spanish people or Chinese people. I met those people in my classes in Fort Lee and they were very industrious.

(I) What year was it when we integrated the school system in Teaneck. You were here then. Were you involved in any way?

(F) No. You know at one time, Teaneck I think in the 50s was recognized as one of the model towns and it was written up.

(M) As a matter of fact, I think they selected it as a model city. 

(I) Did you agree with it though? 

(F) I thought so.

(I) Why? Any special reason?

(F) We were very contented here. We were very happy here.

(M) There was no conflicts whatever among people as far as your nationality or anything like that.

(I) There was a big struggle in 1963 to integrate the school system. You weren't involved in it? That was quite a struggle.

(F) That I don't know. We weren't involved in that because the children were already beyond . .

(I) It was in 1963 that the decision was made to integrate the school system.

(F) Oh yes, I remember that. But we weren't involved in that.

(I) When you came back in 1979, did you find any differences that stand out in your mind?

(F) I don't think there was much of a difference between

(I) As far as you are concerned, your lives.

(F) No.

(I) Is there anything else you can think of?

(GAP IN TAPE)

(F) ...and he allowed all the neighbors

(1) Who?

(F) Mr. Moore owned the land and there was no, I think that Ridgewood was not a road, not even a little road, a little path when all the neighbors took 10 x 20 plots and planted vegetables. We had tomatoes that we were able to can and give away out of that small plot. It was a beautiful sunny plot and everybody raised corn, we had broccoli, eggplants, peppers, it was just beautiful.

(I) How many plots were there? Roughly. How big a piece of land was it?

(M) It might have been 50 x 100.

(F) Oh no, what are you talking about? It was three times that. Maybe about six acres.

(I) Was this unusual or this was all around the town?

(F) I think this was unusual. First of all, we had so many trees on our property and there were so many trees in our neighbors' property that there was no open sunny spot really to plant and we certainly couldn't plant on our property. We had so many trees. We liked the trees. It kept the house cool. We had no air conditioning. And with the insulation of the house and the trees, we were very comfortable. But that was a very

(M) It just happened to be a vacant plot that they weren't going to use and. . he donated the use of that place during the war for the war effort. I mean so we could have vegetable gardens.

(I) What happened after the war with that plot? 

(F) We didn't use it again.

(I) You just let it go?

(M) That's right.

(I) But it served a good purpose.

(M) Surprising what you can raise on 10 x 20. (GAP IN TAPE)

(I) Doing what?

(F) I first worked, I was selling coats and dresses and then I became a bridal

(I) What year was this?

(F) This was 1950 to and in 1951 when I heard my son was taken into the Marines, see he went to the draft board (you are not recording this, right? After he got his masters, he went to the draft board and he said, I can go now, so he was drafted and when he got to Hackensack, they picked out certain young men with high IQs for the Marines and they sent him to Paris Island.

(I) How old was he?

(F) He was 22 I think he was. He graduated Rutgers and he graduated with a masters. He got his masters.

(M) He was more than 22 because he graduated Rutgers when he was 20.

(F) No, he graduated

(I) All right.. What's the difference?

(GAP IN TAPE)

(F) He was a consultant. 

(I) And you worked in Hackensack?

(I) How did you get there?

(F) By bus. The 72. For a nickel. And then when the stores opened up on the highway and the Bergen Mall and all that, The stores in Hackensack were suffering very severely.  Business dropped a great deal and my store wanted to stay opened evenings three nights a week and I had to work at least two nights a week and then when he would ask me to work three nights a week, I said no, I couldn't work three nights a week and I left and I worked in Sears Credit Department for two and a half years.

{I) Let me ask you a different question. When you belonged to this Friday Morning Coffee Hour, how long did you belong to that?

(F) Ten years.

(I) Were you there when it originally started?

(F) Not at the very beginning. Not the first meetings. 

(I) What brought you there?

(F) Hilda saw us at the library. She invited us to come Friday morning.

(I) You mean Hilda Lipkin.

(F) Hilda Lipkin. And at that time, Alice Hecht was in charge of that. I didn't know Alice Hecht before that time but when Hilda asked us to come to this Friday morning group, I said to Mo on the side, if it is a senior citizen group, I don't want to come. But I was very curious so I went and I never missed a day.

(I) Did you find it to be a senior citizens group?

(F) Of course it was a senior citizens group. I mean people of my contemporary. I was over 65.

(I) Well what has kept you there all this time?

(F) The very interesting people and it is like a United Nations to me. I find at each one I find something wonderful about each one. And I enjoy being with them. I think we both enjoy, we both enjoy being with them. I don't want to miss a Friday morning if I can help it.

(I) Have you seen any changes in this Friday morning group in this period of time or is it about the same all along?

(F) I think it has improved.

(M) It is a friendly group.

(F) I think we have become friends, real good friends. I think people would do anything for us if they could. And I think they are very congenial toward each other and very considerate of each other.

(M) And they also try to, not try to, they do contribute in their own way. Presenting certain things, experiences and at times when Hilda asks different members when she wants a volunteer for a program, it would be a form of entertaining you might say, we try.

(END OF SIDE 1 - BEGIN SIDE 2)

Although tape it marked, there is nothing on Side 2.

 

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