Scene Here and There

By Bob Henderson

The Sunday Sun, March 20, 1960

If an institution is the lengthened shadow of a man, the tall shades of Paul Valcker, will pervade both the official and private life of Teaneck for a long time to come.

What are the qualities that make a man outstanding among others of equal position; that cause him to be remembered with respect and affection and that raise his municipality to a position of prestige and influence among neighboring towns and the entire state?

First, although he was figuratively and actually the head man in a large official organization and could have thrown a lot of weight around, Paul always kept in mind that he was dealing with people -- all kinds of people with their faults, their idiosynerasies, but also their innate decency.

Paul seldom if ever, made snap judgements. If any one went to him with a suggestion, an idea or a complaint, he'd most likely take a long puff on his pipe, remark that he hadn't thought of it that way, but if the caller would come back on Thursday at 2 p.m., he'd have an answer. And he'd have the answer and a cracking good reason for his decision.

Perhaps his most endearing quality was that he always believed in the spirit as well as the letter of the laws and ordinances. There were many times when he did not make his decisions by the book.

A "for instance." When men by the scores were being mustered out of service, the housing situation in many cases was desperate. People were installing sinks and baths in one-family residences and Paul knew it. He told a group of reporters that he certainly wasn't going to tell people that they could make such installations and openly flout the law, but in such a dire emergency, neither was he going to tell them they couldn't.

He kept his weather eye on the situation and as soon as the house situation had eased, he quietly ordered every one of those houses restored to one-family status. It was done with neither fanfare or objections and his whole handdling of the situation left a sweet taste in everyone's mouth.

On the rare occasions when he was irked or angry, his emotion never took the form of arm waving or shouting. Few people ever heard him raise his voice. Rather, you sometimes had to cup your ear to hear what he was saying.

Most men of wisdom are guided to some extent by the precepts of their forebears. This one from George Washington, still hangs in the office of Township Manager Schmidt, next to Paul's picture:

"Do not suffer your good nature when application is made to say Yes when you ought so say No. Remember that it is a public, not a private cause that is to be injured or benefited by your choice."

A memorial to Paul Volcker is among the musts for Teaneck. It might be possible to coldly appropriate a sum of money from Township funds and erect a tablet in the library or Town Hall or dedicate a tree in his name. This would be no memorial at all to the man who raised Teaneck to the position of respect and prestige it enjoys, but above all, who made it the nice place it is in which to live.

A committee of his close friends and associates will be appointed shortly to decide what form the memorial shall take. all the people of Teaneck who knew him and remember him with affection, willhave an opportunity to make their donations to some living and lasting form of memorial.

Acknowledging the tributes paid to Paul after his recent death, Mrs. Volcker wrote to Mayor Matthew Feldman:

"In a very special way Mr. Volcker loved Teaneck. For 20 years he watched it grow and mature into an outstanding community, gaving it his best always. His interest did not lessen when he retired nor when he moved away..."

Yes, Mrs. Volcker, that's just how the people of Teaneck felt about him.

I, for one, will always be glad I knew him.