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Just what constitutes a Woman's Club? The writer has often been asked that question.
To be a member of a group of civic minded women; dedicated to the betterment of the community; to the enlargement of one's mental horizon; to the dissemination of education and culture; to the display of interest in local, state and federal government and to the exercise of friendliness, sociability and the welfare of one's fellow man; these are the attributes of a Woman's Club.
Just such a woman existed in Teaneck in 1925, in the person of Mrs. Bernard Lippman. When Teaneck's population was barely 4,000. She advertised in the local Newspaper, inviting Teaneck women to her home for the purpose of forming a Woman's Club. Of the 135 who attended, 112 joined the organization. Mrs. Lippman was elected President. It being the month of May, and the convening of the annual New Jersey Federation of Women's Clubs at Atlantic City, Mrs. Lippman, with her delegates, hastened to attend. We were the youngest club ever to become federated, being just one day old when admitted.
The group first met at the Bergen County Historical Society Room. Later on we were given the use of the Lippman carriage house, or so called studio, for our meetings. The Ladies scrubbed the premises; hung curtains and brought about this semblance of a meeting room. How well the writer recalls those early days of preparation for a meeting - stoking the iron pot stove on winter days so that those nearby toasted themselves, while others in the background shivered in silences. Those were the happy and friendly informal days, when each member wait invited once or twice a year to bring a home made cake for the tea which invariably followed each meeting.
Our little group immediately made itself known in the Civic affairs of the Township, organizing a Girl Scout group, agitating a Shade Tree Commission, a class to teach English to the foreign born, planting a community Christmas tree on the grounds of the Municipal Building and presenting an American Flag to be flown on the property.
The Woman's Club met in various places over the years - Mrs. Lippman's studio, the Masonic Temple, The Smith Community Church, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, the Teaneck Library, Christ Episcopal Church, the Town House, the new Christ Episcopal Church, and in 1956 to our own new clubhouse.
In 1925 a building fund was started. Two dollars was set aside from each member's dues. At the end of the year, $1,250 had ban raised. Land was purchased in the vicinity of the golf course and held for many years. Due to a change in zoning restrictions which would not permit the building of a clubhouse, the land was sold.
The first Birthday Party was held on the spacious lawn of the Lippman home in May of 1926. Mr. Lippman presented the Club with a huge Birthday cake which became an annual event for many years to follow.
In 1926 the Junior Woman's Club was formed and one of our living Charter Member Mrs. W. A. S. Hecking became the first Junior Counselor.
In spite of the depression of 1929, World War II and Korean War, the Woman's Club forged ahead.
In 1930 Mrs. F. N. Ferry was elected President. The highlight of her administration was the establishment of an annual Bronze Plaque Award to the high school senior student for highest citizenship, a coveted award presented at the Honors Assembly.
In 1931 the Plaque was given to the first graduating class and won by Miss Alvera Manewal, now Mrs. Thomas Costa, a member of our Club,,
A miniature golf tournament was held which netted $371, a goodly sum in depression days. This money was turned over to Teaneck's Welfare Department.
In 1936, under the presidency of Mrs. Michael Dunne, our first year book was published. Mrs. Dunne was instrumental in getting an outstanding commentator to appear before the Teaneck public. Veteran H. V. Kaltenborn lectured here on more than one occasion, the money raised going to the Teaneck Welfare Association. A record of the Club's Civic activities was placed in the cornerstone of the Teaneck High school. The Club sponsored a musical comedy "Dream of a Clown" consisting of seventy local men and husbands of club members, some impersonating female celebrated characters, the proceeds going to the Town Welfare fund.
In 1938, when Mrs. John Kroog was president, the history of the Woman's Club was placed in the cornerstone of the new wing of the Teaneck Library.
In 1940, during Mrs. F. N. Ferry's second term of office, and in 1941 when Mrs. Arthur Strickland was President, the Club concentrated on war relief and war activities.
In 1944 during the presidency of Mrs. Hugh Reed, the sale of war stamps and war bonds continued. The Year Book, which had been discontinued as an economy measure, became a permanent publication.
In 1946, when Mrs. Charles Campbell became President, the "Talk of the Town" Revue, held for the benefit of our Welfare work, was presented at the high school, with living pictures portrayed by town notables and club members.
In 1948 the first Book and Author Luncheon was held with the poet Joseph Auslander and the writer Cleveland Amory as guests. The Book and Author Luncheon became an annual event.
Under the Presidency of Mrs. John Lange, a yearly scholarship fund of $100 was established. This sum has since been increased to $400 divided among three students.
In 1949 under the Presidency of Mrs. Hugh Dale, an Aims and Achievements Show was held, consisting of an exhibit of hobbies. Also a search was made for a suitable clubhouse.
The Club's organizer and first President, Mrs. Bernard Lippman, died at her home in Florida in 1951.
In 1953, under the Presidency of Mrs. John Kelly, a yearly Art Scholarship Award was instituted. Property at Beverly and Windsor Road was purchased for a clubhouse site.
In 1954 a building committee was formed under Mrs. Karl Rowles. A street fair was hold on the Club property. $1.152.04 was added to the building fund. Cottage bridges and dancing classes furnished additional funds. The Club entertained foreign born students on Brotherhood Day.
In 1955 building plans were presented to the Club and accepted. A finance plan was set up with voluntary donations from Club members. Bids were received on construction costs and a reliable construction firm was employed to start building operations. The work proceeded and continued after the death of the architects, Mr. George Cady.
In 1956 an imposing structure bearing the inscription "The Woman's Club of Teaneck" was "fait accompli".
Under the Presidency of Mrs. Albert Lober, on September 23rd, the dedication ceremonies took place. Members of the Clubhouse Committee, with Mrs. John Felly our first Clubhouse Chairman, were hostesses to member and friends.
The first regular meeting to be held in our new home took place on September 24, 1956.
The task of raising funds to complete the Clubhouse become a major endeavor during Mrs. Lober's administration. A series of cottage bridges and a theatre party followed.
Our first smorgasbord in the Clubhouse took place December 2., 1956.
Our first Antique Show was held on October 14, 1956.
Our first Egg Nog Party was given December 30., 1956.
In 1958 Mrs. William C. Whitwell became President. "Operation Ceiling", a series of money raising events, took place. The beamed ceiling in the auditorium was finished.
Improvements were made in the lounge and added kitchen utensils were purchased.
A silver coffee urn was purchased with voluntary contributions from Club members and properly inscribed to the memory of our recently departed past President, Mrs. Albert Lober.
Our first Calendar luncheon was held on January 20, 1960.
The Woman's Club is responsible for procuring donors for the first drawing scheduled by the Teaneck Blood Association on November 2, 1960.
The year 1960 has been a banner year for the Woman's Club of Teaneck. The Drama Department's presentation of the play "The Pinnacle" won first place in the Drama Festival of the Ninth District. It was chosen for presentation at the State Convention in Atlantic City. The Art Department's scrapbook "Madonna in Art" won recognition and was also entered in the state competition. It won first place in the Ninth District in Arts and Grafts. The Publicity Department's press book, which won first place in the Ninth District competition, also appeared in the State contest and won a special award. Mrs. Hugh D. Reed was the first Past President of the Teaneck Woman's Club to be elected President of the Past President's Club.
The Woman's Club approaches the end of its thirty five years of achievements in the service of the community, every looking upward and forward to a continuance of its high ideals.
Blanche R. Chesney, Historian
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410