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Mrs. Anna E. "Ellie" Leiffert Cole

(Milford Manor Nursing Home. Interview taped 8/2/1975)

Summary

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I am 80. I was 7 when we moved to Teaneck. I lived at 1180 Summit Ave. until I was married at 19. Then we lived upstairs. When my daughter, Clarice Cole Custer was born 2 1/2 years later we built a house on Arlington Ave. My daughter is married and gave me a wonderful son as well as four beautiful granddaughters.

There were 13 houses in the area where we lived -- three farms, Coopers, Phillips and Stevenson. The other 10 houses were scattered about. We had to walk through the woods to our neighbors. The Camaris were the closest. The McMahons came to Teaneck and lived on Forest Avenue. They had a girl my age. We are still friends. Kitty is now a widow living in Oradell.

I went to School in Teaneck. Our teacher was Miss Rizou. Mr. Jay was our principal. In severe weather my father would shuffle through the snow to Teaneck Road and I would follow in his footsteps. Bill Guthrie, a big boy, sometimes carried Katherine Kilmurray and me over the drifts. Mr. Selvage had a big apple orchard behind the school. Somtimes the boys would bring us a big apple from the orchard. Clarice went to School 2, too. Mrs. Lucy Marsh tought both of us. She lived on Forest Ave. next to Seidel's store.

Clarice Custer: We lived at 133 Evergreen Place. I remember a couple named Oliver -- Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Oliver, whom we called Uncle Tom and Aunt Del. They built a house on Forest Avenue near Arlington. She taught me to bake bread and used to play with me. They had no children.

Mrs. Cole: Mr. George Coe of Englewood, a rich man was interested in Teaneck. Some of our neighbors like the Olivers, Heroys and Waterburys got together for church services. The lady of the house would read the Bible and we'd sing a few hymns. Among those attending were the Frankes. They had two daughters and a son -- Lita, Selma and Carl. Lita and I were the only young people who went to services. Mr. Coe came to us and said I think it's time we had a place to meet. We built the Washington Avenue Sunday School on Church Street -- first floor and basement. After several years Mr. Coe suggested members of the church buy the Sunday School and re-christen it the Presbyterian Church of Teaneck. Lita and I played piano there for years. We went to church three times on Sunday, Wendesday night prayer meeting and choir practice Friday nights.

We used to have picnics and strawberry festivals. Big trees arched over Teaneck Road like you were going through a tunnel. There were some gorgeous houses in Teaneck -- They had gazebos or summer houses and pony carts. I can remember a strawberry festival when they had beautiful lanters strung on a house built on a hillside. Every one would be there -- ladies wearing long summer dresses. fancy hats with lace. The berries were sweeter then, they came right from the farms.

Billy Hawkey had a pony cart. I was afraid of horses. Once the boys chased me with the pony cart. There was a house at Bogert Street and Teaneck Road used as a club house -- it is a four-family apartment now. Every Saturday they had a dance. I was the first one there and the last one home.

We'd take a walk on Sunday to Phillips farm, Coopers' or Stevensons and I would come home loaded with fruit and vegetables. We walked two miles to Englewood to shop on Saturdays. If we forgot something, we went back.

My grandmother was a dressmaker and used to give us magazines like the Delineator and we'd cut out paper dolls. Edna Foster's family bought a home near us. We formed a dramatic club.

I met Clarence Cole when I was 15. He came to see me and I pushed to dolls under the settee. I asked him why he came and he said he'd come to find out if I would like to go to New York to see a show. I said "Oh My God". Mama said yes so he took me to a beautiful restaurant and a show. I hoped he would come again. He came again Saturday. We kept company for four years. One day he said he was going on vacation and that first we would get married. I said will we? He said what do you think I've been coming here for? I started a hope chest. I had some little baby shirts trimmed with lace. One day he looked in the hope chest and saw them. He said you'd better save them. Maybe we can use them.

My mother was a practical nurse. My grandmother Leiffert, a dressmaker had worked for Mrs. Sample and Mrs. Hawkey. Once my mother couldn't go to take care of Mrs. Sample when she had a baby. So I went. It was near Christmas and Mr. Stevenson saw that I was well remembered.

We had a young minister from New York Theological Seminary. Once Mr. Stevenson came to church. He didn't kneel when the time came. That worried me. I thought he wouldn't go to heaven. He said I kneel for no man -- and besides, I had on a new pair of pants.

I helped my mother with Mrs. Johnes on Circle Drive for two weeks. That's where I began my nursing career. I was a practical nurse for eignt years. I helped deliver my four granddaughters. Clarice wouldn't have a baby in the hospital. Two doctors came from the hospital to see a home delivery. It was a beautiful set up.

Sitzman's had a little country store on Forest and Cooper Avenues. Mother and son. Seidel's had a general store near Teaneck Road. Balestrinis came after Seidels.

We came here from Brooklyn. My mother had had an operation and the doctor said she should come to the country. They read an ad about Manhattan Heights. Mr. Selvage owned practically all of Teaneck. He had a model bungalow on Tuxedo Square where he had an office. When we moved into our house we thought it was a palace.

I didn't speak English until I came to Teaneck. I spoke Platt Deutsche and German.

We had a toilet downstaires, no tub. We bathed in the soapstone tub in the kitchen. There was a coal range. There was a lavatory off the kitchen. Later we put in a tub upstairs and finished the third floor where I lived after I was married -- two rooms and a kitchen. The Rev. George M. Woodbury married us in that house. We were married 46 years. I had a sweetheart second to none.

My father was a diamond appraiser and setter for Tiffany's in New York. At first he worked for Tiffany in Forest Hills as a silversmith. Then he tookup goldsmithing. They moved him to the Fifth Avenue store where he specialized in diamond setting and appraising.

Gladys and Agnes Nelson had a country store later on Froest Avenue. Teaneck was like a summer resort when we came. Every one came to visit. My mother's brother drove the trolley. For a nickel I could go all the way to Coney Island with Uncil Bill. All our neighbors had company all summer.

My mother delivered two of the Stevenson children -- one for Mrs. Hawkey and one for Mrs. Sample. My grandmother sewed for those people. She had been to Paris. She made her own patterns and made beautiful hats.

Edna Foster and I were interested in theatricals and formed a dramatic club. Yes I remember Dorothy Fickerman who played the piano. Clarice and Janny Milane started school together -- second grade teacher was Miss Todd. She boarded with my mother and later married Bill Middlemas. Fred Davis, "Papa" Davis was the cop on the corner.

Clarice: Miss Kennedy the music teacher, always made a grand entrance. When she got married I thought she would have to have some very special man. She used to have us sing like rippling water. We'd dress up in costumes of dyed cheese cloth.

The Nibbes lived on Prospect Terrace. Mrs. Franke had a soft German accent.

I have a 50-year Eastern Star Pin - Teaneck Chapter 218. I was a charter member. Recently 9 Eastern Stars came here to present the pin. I am a past commander of Golden Star Circle 35. Lady Foresters and I am the oldest charter member of the Presbyterian Church. I'm No. 1 on the list. Lita Franke Bower is No. 2.

One thing I want to say as you go through life, remember to pray "Not mine, by Thy will be done." And I find comfort in the 23rd Psalm -- The Lord is my shepherd.

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