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 Mr. Charles Clausen
Clarles Clausen (son of Henry Clausen)
(Interview taped 4/30/1976)
I was born in Teaneck in 1905 on my grandfather's farm on Queen Anne Road and Route 4. My mother, Nellie Kuntze, was also born on the farm her father bought in 1867, part of it from Phelps and part from a neighbor. 13 acres, part in Englewood and part in Hackensack, Queen Anne Rd. was then Westfield Avenue. The railroad came about 10 years after he bought the farm. The original owners of the railroad went bankrupt and for two years the road was inactive. It was reorganized as the "First Albany and Hudson". My grandmother told how she'd flag the engineers with her handkerchief, go to New York in the morning and come back on the evening train. There were not too many commuters before the turn of the century.
We lived in a cold-water brick house. We had all the meat animals we needed--beef, pork, chickens, turkeys. My father started a rendering business before the police department was established. My grandmother had a loaded shotgun behind the door to keep people from picking the cherries and other fruit. The sheriff was in Hackensack. Sometimes my father would put me on a horse and tell me to go to Hackensack and got the sheriff. It was like the wild west--robbers and horse thieves.
My mother had a beautiful carriage horse. Among the help my father recruited from Greenwich Street in New York was a man named Peter Springer. He was from Schulenberg, Texas, a real cowboy. Mother told him about her horse and he found it in Newton, N.J. He got another one in Hoboken. He was with us 20 years, a dependable man and courageous person.
My grandfather and grandmother worked for Phelps. He was superintendent of the farm and my grandmother a dairy maid--she did all the menial tasks --took care of cows, calves, butter, cheese and took the milk in cans to the Englewood railroad station to be sold. Grandfather took his produce to New York with a horse and wagon.
I had three brothers, one still living--Sylvester. My brother Henry fell out of an airplane and lived and died later after slipping and failing on a sidewalk. He was in a terrible airplane accident in Newark in 1956. His wife was killed. His daughter lived. My brother Ed was with the post office in Teaneck. He served in the Second World War and became a sergeant.
It was my grandfather's neighbor Blanke that got the Sagamore Avenue bridge. His property extended from Garrison Avenue to Route 4. When they laid the railroad tracks, it cut his farm in half. He explained this to the railroad and the railroad built the bridge at Sagamore Avenue.
Our farm was at the north end of Votee Park, east of the bridge where the high school is and extended over the present Route 4 to the Little House (PAL). My father, Henry Clausen, served four terms on the Township Council. In those days they spread responsibilities--he was fire commissioner, and drove the Seth Thomas fire engine; he was police commissioner when the policemen ride bikes; he was road commissioner and then a Council member.
My father came here from Ridgefield Park. Before that he farmed a part of Central Park in New York around 5th Avenue. His father had a stand under the elevated at 69th and Fifth. He had 30 acres in Ridgefield Park with hot beds where he raised vegetables all year around.
This area was nearly all farms. Hundreds of wagons went to New York at harvest time. In the summer they were all lined up on 9W. Dan Kelly's hill had tows--single and double. Sometimes you'd wait half the night for a tow. This was a beautiful part of Teaneck.
Fiss, Doerr and Carroll had a horse farm during World War I. They brought hundreds of carloads of western horses and blocked off Cedar Lane to get to the railroad. They had cowboys. Palisade Avenue just ran from Cedar Lane to where Limone's farm is at Cherry Lane. Blanke planted the cherry trees on Cherry Lane. There was a boarding house for the hands on Palisade Avenue. Mrs. Stranz ran that boarding house for Fiss, Doerr and Carroll men. You could get all the help you wanted from New York. Greenwich street had two or three blocks of stores with signs advertising Danish, German, Polish or other help. My mother would have to talk in three languages until those greenhorns learned. Italians built the railroad. Mr. Encke used to take his flowers to 28th Street in New York. They had a terrible race riot in New York. My father brought a couple of black girls in his wagon. He got the address of their church, brought them home. They wouldn't leave until they heard from the pastor. My grandfather then put them on a train for South Carolina.
I went to Englewood High School, walking or by bus. If you missed the bus, you walked. My wife was Miss Evelim Shodd, a teacher, Dr. Neulen brought here.
My dad built the fat factory in about 1900. My grandfather had his own animals. My father had 18 horses and lots of help. My mother fed 16 men. We sledded from November to Easter. My father shipped a carload out every week and a carload of hides. There were no synthetics then. We had a bunkhouse for six man all the time. We had what they called inedible tallow--a good grade. Colegate Palmolove in Jersey City used it for soap and cosmetics.
We had trouble with hoboes. Some would ask nicely. The railroad was up a hill from Bogota and the hoboes could get off. They'd steal the fruit. My dad had one of the first autos in town. He had auto trucks which scared the horses. When the auto would get stuck the teamsters would yell "Get a Horse." I remember my uncle would take me to Englewood or Tenafly and buy me a glass of Birch beer. We used to stop at the Clinton Inn. It was the same in 1910 as it is today. It was at the end of the carline from 125th street.
I remember we had a graduation party. Took the trolley to Edgewater and took the Day Liner to Bear Mountain. As for teachers, we had one for every grade. Miss Kennedy was the music teacher. She married Hans Christian Anderson Madison and they had a restaurant where the Sha-Tee is now, then one where the New England Shop is and later one where the Steak Pit is.
I sold what was left of our farm--two acres--to the township. It is now part of Votee Park. Our biggest year was 1927. We had nine vans and went cross country in the moving business for years. Now they have Piggy Back. Most every port is fitted for containers. Japan, Spain, Norway and some outlying places can only accommodate 20-foot containers because of the narrow streets. During the war they had to tear down some buildings to get materiel through the narrow streets.
When I was a boy I walked to Hackensack. There was no house between Fiss, Doerr and Carroll and Richter's house at Cedar Lane and Palisade Ave. There was a farmhouse where the Teaneck Theater is. Garrison Avenue was a pine forest. There was a small red house where the PathMark is and across from it was a race track parallel to River Rd. There was a big house at River Road and Cedar Lane (Hart's) and the bridge tender's house. Garrison lived opposite the PathMark. They had daughters: Belle, Ester and Beatrice. I was born in our old farm house. Dr. Valentine Ruch was the doctor. His father had a butcher shop on Palisade Avenue.