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William E. Guthrie
(Interview taped 11/3/1975)
My family came to Teaneck in 1896 from Hackensack where I was born. I was 4 when we came to Teaneck. My father was a carpenter for William Walter Phelps. We lived in the area of the golf club--on a street that must have been the continuation of Bennett Rd. I lived in Teaneck for 61 years, until I retired in 1963 as clerk of the court in Hackensack.
I went to No. 2 School. The teacher was William Banta--he was jack of all trades, taught everybody. There were about 35 or 40 pupils. He lived in Hillsdale, and used to ride a bicycle back and forth. I graduated in 1906.
A man named Smith was the first station agent. His son was killed in World War 1--Navy. I also remember a woman postmistress when the post office was in a candy store. It must have been Bourgeois' store.
My wife, Gertrude McDonald whom I married in 1921, had two sisters and two brothers. The family came here in 1904. They lived on Elm Terrace, then on Bogert St. Her brother Bill used to play ball with us on Borden's Field. I was always active in sports. We had great teams long before the Red Devils. Teaneck was then a summer place for some people, so we would get players who only lived here in the summer.
I graduated from Hackensack High School and went to work for the Columbia Phonograph Company in New York, taking the train and ferry to Courtlandt St. I Joined the National Guard in 1914 and was sent to the Mexican border in 1916. We trained in Douglas, Ariz. I was in the 5th N.J. Infantry which was called out in May,1918. I went overseas and stayed until May,1919. Saw Action in the Argonne Forest, St. Miehel and Metz. Capt. Stephen T. Schoonmaker was killed in World War I. I got back in June 1919 and in July started organizing American Legion Post 128 in Teaneck. We in the services were closer in those days, so many of us in an outfit came from the same place. Now they come from all over. I started the V.F.W, post in 1925. I also started the 40 et 8. The only veterans organization I didn't start was the Jewish war veterans. I was commander of the state 40 et 8 and have held many offices in the Legion and the VFW.
I became clerk of the Criminal District Court in 1935 and served until 1955 when it became the Superior Court. I worked there until I retired in 1963. I ran for the Teaneck Council once and was defeated, I was 7th in a field of 15 candidates.
I joined the Volunteer Fire Department in 1910. The Fire Department had lots of social affairs upstairs in the building on Fairview Avenue. Sometimes I could get dance orchestras to play for dances in the school house. That was through my job at Columbia Phonograph Company.
I ran lots of affairs at the Blue Bird Inn. They employed the first black family in Teaneck--Coleman was the coachman. Then there was a black janitor at School 2.
In the early days we had quite a social life in Teaneck. In 1911 The Teaneck Club was quite a place. J. H. N. Armstrong was president. William Beaumont and F. A. Beyer were vice presidents; P. J. Reynolds and L. C. Armstrong were secretary and treasurer. On the entertainment committee were Washington, E. Hazelton, Henry Clausen, Richard Ackerman, Armstrong and Beyer. The club introduced basketball in 1908 and sponsored many a winning team. According to the club brochure "Mr. William Guthrie, recognized as the town's most successful and energetic athletic organizer and manager" headed the athletic committee.
Another of Mr. Guthrie's mementos is a program from the Welcome Home and Independence Day Celebration held July 4,1919 when Maurice Veuve, the township chairman., gave the opening address and a tablet bearing the names of men who served their country in World War I was unveiled following an address by the Rev. Carl Stridberg. He also recalls the dedication of the Camp Merritt Memorial monument on May 30,1924.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
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