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From "The New York Times", September 22, 1949
Teaneck on Film As Model Town
Army Completes 3-Day Effort to Picture U.S. Community for Propaganda Abroad
This northern New Jersey township ended a three day period as a photographer's model today with all the aplomb of a Conover girl.
Except for a few brief interruptions in the administration of its municipal affairs and the cultural pursuits of its children and townspeople, the township took in stride its role of a model United States community-the part it played for the civil affairs division of the Army.
Selected by Army authorities from 10,000 communities, Teaneck bared its operations to the camera lens of Victor De Palma for an exhibition of United States democratic processes to be used in the Government's re-education and re-orientation program in occupied countries.
The exhibit--thirty photos "with text and captions--will be displayed first In Japan and the Ryukyu Islands and later in Australia. It is designed specifically to demonstrate how a small city government is organized, how it functions and how, through the Interrelation of diverse departments, law, order, public welfare, recreation and community life may be placed at the disposal of the town's citizenry.Army Selected Community
Army authorities, in selecting Teaneck as an "excellent subject," explained that they were motivated by the townships "fine municipal spirit and the high quality of its government service."
Teaneck responded willingly, and wore alternately an ear-to-ear grin and a sheepish smile. It was proud of the "signal honor," and joined enthusiastically in the pictorial effort to bring a better way of life to the to the war-torn lands of the world's former enemies.
Long before the photographer began his pictorial record of dem ocracy in action last Monday, there had been much eager talk about it on the township's well-treed streets, much speculation about what Asiatic and European neighbors would think of Teaneck.
Like other models, Teaneck primped, and wore its Sunday best for the photographer. It's mothers turned out in unprecedented record numbers for the first parent-teacher association meeting of the fall term; its streets were free of debris and litter; its children moved from recreation area to library to school in consonance with the photographer; and its municipal departments were a model of efficiency and cooperation before the camera.Many Questions Asked
Present also were the wry quips and endless questions that bother photographers the world over. At the Retired Men's Club the other day, an octogenarian turned to the photographer and asked: "Are you collecting antiques?"
Mr. De Palma, a freelance photographer engaged for the project, began to make his pictorial record on Monday, accompanied by Miss Lucille Annin, photo editor of the Civil Affairs office in New York City. He began at the town hall and recorded on film the work of the Police Department, the township treasurer, the tax collector, the town clerk.
He turned his lens on the construction of a sewer project, the children's safety patrol in action, the tax assessor, the township manager, Paul Volcker; the Health Department, the supervising principal of the township's schools, the high school Parent-Teachers Association board in session, the veteran's housing project, the public works department, the building department, recreation department, the public library, the elementary schools and the town Council in session.
On the final day, he recorded the Fire Department, a parochial school, Magistrate's Court and the meeting of the school board.
The project, however, was not without problems. Although the broad framework of the task--a pictorial record of governmental functions--was obvious, it remained for the photographer to capture the most interesting and revealing phases of these functions. Just as significant also were the "taboos" he faced on certain possible pictures because of the propaganda role the photos are destined to play.
The township's reaction was best summed up by Mr. Volcker, its manager for nineteen years."All people of Teaneck feel pride and satisfaction in this national recognition," he said."I have always found Teaneck people highly intelligent and proud of their town. They are ready to fight at the drop of a hat over any live issue."
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410