A park to honor doctor?

Dated May 18, 1976
Source Unidentified (from Teaneck Public Library files)

TEANECK - A small park off Windsor Road may be renamed in honor of Dr. Barnett S. Bookstavee, a civic leader of the Jewish community and benefactor of the entire town.

Mayor Eleanor Kieliszek, however, has rejected the original suggestion that the name of Sagamore Park be changed. She said she doesn't believe that removing an American Indian name from a park is properly respectful to the nation's Indian heritage. She says she would prefer to change the name of neighboring Station Park to honor Dr. Bookstaver, rather than Sagamore, suggested by historian Joy Appelbaum.

Dr. Bookstaver, born in Russia, came to America as a child and was educated in New York City. He moved to the township when it was a tranquil, semirural area but soon found himself busy with numerous local activities.

Mrs. Appelbaum, researching the history of the local Jewish community, listed for the Township Council, Dr. Bookstaver's contributions to Teaneck: From 1933 to 1951, he was head of the Board of Health, police surgeon, Fire Department surgeon, and Board of Education medical officer, all for the fee of $1 a year. He was one of the founders of the Volunteer Ambulence Corps, and an enthusiastic fund-raiser for both Jewish and Christian religious groups.

As health officer, he undertook such progressive projects as the banning of sales of loose milk and the burning of ragweed.

In 1961, Dr. Bookstaver had a fatal heart attack while helping to rescue nuns and children from-the blazing St. Anastasia's School building, which burned to the ground.

Mrs. Appelbaum and some supporters wrote to Mayor Eleanor Kieliszek to suggest that the name of Sagamore Park be changed to "Dr. Barnett S. Bookstaver Park.

"When Mayor Kieliszek learned at last night's council work session that Sagamore is a Delaware Indian name meaning chieftain, she said no change of that park name would be in order.

"I wouldn't take an Indian name off and replace it," she said. "There are just too few things left from the first Americans. We'd better leave Sagamore alone, but I don't object to renaming Station Park after Dr. Bookstaver."

Other council members at the session pointed out that most parks in Teaneck were named in honor of former mayors who had been active in reserving park land. Some thought that changing a park name would create a bothersome precedent.

But Township Manager Warren Schmid suggested that since Dr. Bookstaver's more memorable assocation had been with the Ambulance Corps, it might be more fitting to name the Ambulance Corps headquarters after him.

Editor's Note: The decision to rename the park was made final on August 4, 1976.


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