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(Interview taped 8/8/1975)
My father was James Dibella who came here around 1918 -- probably before that because he opened a barber shop and later when into the service. Perhaps he was the first barber in Teaneck. He sold the barber business to Mr. Manne.
After World War I he started a second business -- food, grain, kindling and wood. A year or later he got into the coal business. It was called the West Englewood Coal and Supply Company on Palisade Avenue near the present business at 1475 Palisade Avenue. His was the first business one or two block south -- between the West Englewood station and the water tower. Palisade Avenue then was called Station Street.
I was born in Englewood Hospital. At first we lived in an apartment above Cutler's Pharmacy. When I was about 4 we moved to Amsterdam Ave. In 1929 we moved to 1266 Pennington Road where my father still lives.
I remember playing with the Klober Brothers, Lenny and Bill. I remember Pearl Etton and her sister Dorothy. I remember when many new stores were built on the south side of West Englewood Avenue. There were serious water Problems -- Probably caused by a high water table. The builders had a problem.
In the mid thirties my father was involved in building some of the newer stores. The area north east of West Englewood Avenue was all fields which belonged to Mr. Ackerman. They were entirely country with paths between pear and peach trees where 100 State Street is now. In the center of the woods was a delightful spring. That was where the G. E. Building is now in that industrial section.
I went to School 2 for a couple of years, then to Bryant, then to Whittier School. I went to Junior High at the High School and graduated from St. Cecilia's in Englewood. My dad took me to school and I got a bus home. I remember Miss Hill, Mr. Morse and Mr. Salerne who taught French at Teaneck High.
My dad was a hard workery industrious. He was up at dawn. In 1924-1925, he had a coal pocket constructed on the property at 1475 Palisade Ave. We handled different size coal -- rice, pea, buck wheat, stove or egg. The purpose of the coal pocket was to unload the cars from the railroad and segregate above ground so that the wagon underground could be loaded by gravity. At first our wagons were horse drawn.
I remember one Sunday morning the structure collapsed -- the ground gave way probably because it was wet. The coal trucks beneath were destroyed. It was a great financial loss to my father. To his credit, he was not totally discouraged, but took steps to have a new building put up. It took a long time to pay it off, but he had a real business drive.
We had a stable for the horses. It is still there -- behind some evergreen in the northeast corner of the property near Queen Anne Rd. near Bryant School. It is now used for storage. We used horses in 1920-25. There was a blacksmith on New Bridge Rd. near River Road. I remember watching him shoe the horses.
During the Depression in the mid thirties man had a camp near the railroad. They were hoboes who moved from place to place. Their camp was in a clearing in the woods opposite where Benjamin Franklin Jr. High School is. One day a man knocked on our backdoor. I was about 12. My mother wasn't home. He asked for something to eat and I supplied him with everything. Mother was surprised when she came home and found a tramp there, but it worked out all right. We did see gypsies traveling through in those days.
From time to time some one would be injured or killed a the railroad crossing in West Englewood. People would go across the gates. Telley family lost a daughter killed by a train.
In the 20s and 30s life of the people of Teaneck revolved around the railroad. Most people went to the city and the town depended completely on the railroad. It's a nostalgia thing to me. Between 7 and 9 a.m. every one in town gathered on the platform -- a mass exodus. They came home en masse in the evening. Lot of activity centered around railroad. I remember seeing trains marked Ontario and Western racing through. That was my link with far away places. Big locomotives pulled long lines of cars. They'd stop to take on water at West Englewood and that was my opportunity to look over the engines and talk to the engineer.
I remember your father, Mr. Manne. When I was 5 or 6 my father took me to his shop, a friendly, congenial person. My mother and Mrs. Manne were close friends.
When I went Whittier School, some of us kids went to the Von Steuben House, that was before the Historical Society took it over. We went through a cellar window and found some old flags in the attic.
Teaneck Public Library
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