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Judge Leland Ferry
(Interview taped 11/7/1975)
My Family came to Teaneck Nov. 1, 1911 when I was 11 years old. My parent, Fairchild N. ferry and Clara B. Ferry, moved to a house on the corner of Odgen Avenue and Sussex Road -- It was the 12th house built on the West side of the railroad tracks. The movers carries the piano a block from West Englewood Avenue because Odgen Road was not built. It was two months before we had electricity or gas; six months before we had a phone.
I went to a two-room school on River Road near New Bridge Road. There were four grades in Each room. At first I walked; later the school board provided a horse and wagon. The horse was an old nag named Nellie. I remember one teacher--Miss Secor. The school had a belfry and a pot bellied stove. There were about 25 in each room. Lloyd Schroeder was on of my classmates. Then there was Rudolph Rekow, Henry Worth whose family had the Worth farm and Marjorie Cole. The Schroeders were our nearest neighbors. There was a German family across Sussex Road. More Houses were built later. I remember Henry Deissler who served as town clerk.
Later I went to the old house on Teaneck Road that became the Town Hall. We had no police, just constables. We had a volunteer fire department. The eighth grade boys had a little fire house where a jumper was stored. When there was a fire the boys puller the jumper with its coil of rolled-up hose. I remember the old fire gong made out of a locomotive tire.
I was always interested in radio. I had the first set at the age of 8--a glass tube filled with iron fillings. At about 12 or 13 I built my own radio set. Jack Whipple of Universal Movies came to my house and took pictures of me with my set. Those movies were shown all over the world. Dr. Le DeForrest, inventor of the audio tube, came to see it. I was getting news broadcasts. I found that by putting the earphones on a glass bowl I could amplify the sound. I the the chimes from Big Ben on Westminster Hall in England and on New Year's eve I'd open the window and all the neighbors could hear it.
I made quite a few dollars installing them for my neighbors. I also used to kill chickens for 10 cents each for people who didn't have the heart to do it.
During World War I, I enlisted in the Signal Corps. I studied at New York University and after the war I went as a radio operator on an oil tanker. I traveled around the world then I cam back and went to High School at the age of 21--I lacked two years, I made up the two years in one at Englewood High School.
During that time many changes came to Teaneck. They built Route 4, Jesson Witham was a policeman, he now lives with his son-in-law and is a client of mine.
The grandmother, Julia Ferry, lived with us. She was a devoted Episcopalian. When she died in 1915 the family wanted an Episcopal minister. They got Reverend James from Englewood. He started holding services in our living room, I played the violin and mother played the piano. We went from house to house for Sunday services and I used to push a wheelbarrow containing the hymn books and a prayer stool. When they built Christ Church at Rutland Avenue and Rugby Road, I was the sexton, earning $5 a month.
There was one grocery store in West Englewood when we came here--McKay's on Palisade Avenue near the station. Sam Cutler had a drugstore. Abe Etton had a grocery store on the other side of the tracks. Benny Manne, the barber, was a very lovable man. Once I had Pneumonia and he cam to the house to give me a haircut. I felt like I was dying, but he joked with me and made me feel better. Jim Dibella was the first barber.
I was married Feb. 12, 1929 to Lois Anne Curtis. They lived in this house. We moved to 386 Churchill Road and lived there two years. Our first child was born there. Then I brought this house and we had two more children. I bought the house from her mother.
In 1921 I entered New York University law school, graduating in 1924. I was clerk in the Teaneck Recorders court for four or five years, then was Teaneck magistrate for three or four years. Then I was the first assistant prosecutor for two years and was with the Judicial Criminal Court in Hackensack for two years. I started practice in the Englewood law office of Judge Seiffert. Then I opened an office on Cedar Lane and was there for 25 years until I moved my office here at the house. Tony Manno clerked for me. One day Benny, his dad, called and told me that Tony was losing interest in law school; his friends mode more money doing other things. I talked to him, sent him back and passed the bar exam on the first try.
I served on the Teaneck Planning Board, the Patriotic observance Committee, was township attorney and was elected to the Constitution Convention in 1947. I was voted the most valuable citizen in Teaneck in 1947 by the Joint Citizens Association. I have been warden of Christ Church. I guess they call me judge from the time I was magistrate--it is a title like Kentucky Colonel.
My mother was co-chairman of the Democratic party. She sang in the choir of Christ Church, was a charter member and president of the Woman's Club and served on the Planning Board. My father was on the Board of Education. He ran for the Assembly a number of times as I did.
When we first came here this was really rural with deer running around. Even now we see lots of wild life in this place along the river. It is the only place with underbrush. We see wild geese and pheasants. This house is about 140 years old. It was built by people named Schumaker.
I was appointed magistrate in 1930 when Karl Van Wagner became mayor. He brought Paul Volcker here as manager. During the Depression I was in the prosecutor's office. We were paid in scrip. I went to Volcker and said let my salary as magistrate hang in suspense, but the town paid it.
In the old days, the Town Hall was on Church Street and Teaneck Road. The Council met there. The police were at the back. There were town cells. Jack Brinkerhoff was the custodian. When they caught bootleggers, the evidence often disappeared. he said he didn't have any faith in those locks. He put on his own locks. they said Jack's neuritis disappeared after a haul of hooch. They tell of a policeman who was walking along Teaneck Road when a truck passed. He held out his hand and the driver gave him $50!
I have lived in Teaneck 64 years and this is where I want to stay.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410