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.
Audio recording of the interview with Lt. George Botyos
Lt. George Botyos, Teaneck Detective Bureau
(Interview taped 8/1/1975)
I came to Teaneck from Staplaten, Staten Island in 1922 when I was 8 or 9. I entered third grade at Longfellow School. There was a fire in the school shortly after I came and we went to school at the Morning Side Fire Station. One teacher I remember was Miss Eleanor Kennedy, the music teacher who married Hans Christian Madison.
I went to Leonia High school at first and then to Teaneck High. I was a mid-year student so I did not graduate with the first graduating class at Teaneck High in 1931, but graduated in Feb.,1932. My parents came here because they wanted country living. We lived at 531 Spring Street. My parents still live there.
I was interested in all sports. My friends were Tony Manne, Tommy Costa and the other follows interested in sports. In the yearbook they predicted that I would be an undertaker. They also said I was a cut-up and the best dancer in the class.
It was hard to get a job during the depression, I joined the police force June 15, 1936. There were 125 applicants for three jobs. I went in with Ellie Norten, now retired, and Bob Fitzpatrick, now chief.
I started as a patrolman on the uniformed force. That lasted 10 years. Then I made sergeant and then lieutenant. Before we had the Youth Bureau I did all the youth work and general investigation. When the Youth Bureau was organized there were three detectives. Now there are five plus the lieutenant. We should have 10 detectives. There is a regulation that there should be so many police to so much population. We are short four people now. When the economy gets worse, crime gets worse. There was not as much crime 20 years age as there is now because there weren't so many people.
Is the police department upgraded because so many men go back to school? Yes. All our detectives have their degrees. After four years of study, they go to seminars and take courses. Rutgers, Rockland, Ramapo and Paterson colleges all teach courses in law enforcement. Psychology were in all categories of police work--accidents, family trouble and so forth. It used to be if you were big and strong, that was all you needed to be a cop. Not today. You need education. The study of law helps in court situations.
Criminals today are well educated, we have to keep ahead of them. I've attended many seminars. All kinds of lectures are available. You can go to all kinds of seminars, but experience is important. I'd like you to meet one of our new men--John S. Terhune. He got his bachelor's degree from Rutgers ant his master's in criminal justice from CCNY. We've got at least six men on the force who have bachelor's degrees and about 25 with associate degrees. Rutgers has an excellent department of criminology.
Harte was chief when I came. There were foot patrolmen in three areas-- the West Englewood Plaza section, Cetar Lane and the Fort Lee Road area to the south. You can accomplish much more with our motor radio system. Years ago we did not have the equipment. We had cars without radios. We used call boxes and sirens. Today you are as close to help as you are to a telephone,
Yes, I feel we have an excellent department--fine personnel. We use women as dispatchers, record keepers and switchboard. It is a big help because of all the paper work. Sometimes it takes 7 or 8 hours to make out reports on a case that might have taken an hour.
Karl Van Wagner was the first mayor I remember. When I came here there were tramps along the railroad. Their shacks or camps along the railroad were common, especially during warm weather. They migrated in winter. They didn't give us much trouble, many times there wore drinking problems.
One case I remember was that of Lee Link. It was the case of the state police. Nelson Stamler was the special prosecutor. They got a search warrant for Link's home. He had been operating a gambling ring throughout the state. They found $125,000 in the wall paneling of his recreation room. I had the unpleasant job of counting the money. It was all musty when it was confiscated.
The Redwood murder happened during my first year on the force. He headed the sand hog union . I was assigned to guard duty at his home on W. Laurelton Parkway. It was under 24 hour watch. I was on for 8 hours at a time. The prosecutor's office had responsibility for investigation. Lt. Ted Morgan was assigned to the prosecutor's office for over a year. I was in uniform at the time, not a detective, I know they spent a lot of time in Now York. The case got a lot of publicity, Mrs. Redwood lived in Teaneck--in an apartment over Cancre's tavern, until recently.
Among the men I worked with besides Morgan were Huber, Crooquist, Muhlhahn. Chief Harte, Jack Mulligan, Jerry Pepole, Ferrara whose son is now in the force, Franke and many others.
There was plenty to do in Teaneck when we were kids. We skated and coasted around Fycko Lane. The Letter farm ran north of Fycke Lane and George Street to Hawthorne school. It ran next to Lewis's Farm The Letters were our nearest neighbors. Mike Letter was my friend. I remember we used to steal tomatoes from Lewis' farm which extended to where Volk's is now. The Blue Bird Inn was there and it was quite a place to go.
My brother became Deputy Fire Chief. He died a few years age. My daughter Georgene had a Ph. D. in chemistry. She is married to Dudley Hirschbach, a professor at Harvard. They are just returning from Europe where he has been on a lecture tour. My daughter Roberta has five girls and lived in Pompton. My son Clifford lives in Florida. He started out in education, but is now an FBI agent. They have three boys.
Where we lived was all dirt roads in the early days. When we'd go shopping in Hackensack at the time of the spring we'd put skid-chains on the car and take them off when we got to Teaneck Road. Willow Lane was a dirt road. We'd take that or Fycke Lane and turn off at Spring St. The area was known as Springside -- furthur east was Glenwood Park. There was a trolley stop at Spring Street. My father took the ferry to N.Y. He was in the dairy business. The trolley service was good except in the early morning. We used to hitch rides on the trolley and go to Paterson. We annoyed the motorman. In summer they had these open cars, I remember once I was swimming in the creek and my father was coming home on the trolley. He saw me. I saw him coming down the road and get my clothes on fast. I guess the water was polluted but I wasn't worried.
I know Jack McBride and his brother Lester, We used to play ball where the A & P was on DeGraw Ave. and Queen Anne Rd.--Tony Manne, Tommy Costa and a bunch of us. Life styles are different now--we made our own good times. Youth activity is different, now they go off the deep end -- drug problems and all.