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Alice Miraglia Hoek & Eleanor Kennedy Madison
(Interview taped 3/6/1976)
Mrs. Madison: I started teaching in School No. 3 before it was finished. Children in that area had to go on the trolley to School No. l. I taught fifth grade and all music. The next year Mr. Jay moved me to Washington Irving where I taught sixth grade and music. The next year I was made music supervisor.
I had no car and walked from school to school. Sometimes I'd ride with a truck driver They were wonderful in those days.
Mrs. Hoek: I started at Washington Irving teaching seventh and eighth grades. Miss Lucy Marsh was the principal. She always carried a pad to write notes about how you were doing. She carried a clock. This bothered me so that one day I set her clock ahead and school was dismissed early. She never knew who did it.
Mrs. Madison: She amused me because she was so sarcastic, but on my wedding day she sent me a dozen red roses. Half the teachers were afraid of her.
Mrs. Hoek: One day I saw some words on a back wall of Washington Irving. They were shocking to me. I told Miss Marsh about those sexy words and she said, "That just shows that I'm different.
Mrs. Madison: Most of my former pupils are now retiring--George Beaumont, Peter Christensen and Sam Dunne, the boy who rode a horse on the playground. He had a hard time getting out of grammar school. I had a Glee Club. We used to go on outings. I told him if he didn't get out of the eighth grade he couldn't go on any more outings. Of course, if he got out of the 8th grade, he wouldn't be there. He made it. Billy Hawkey was a character. He never had enough money. One time I took the children to Bear Mountain. I was wearing an orange cap so they could see me. Billy took a girl rowing. Soon there were cries of distress. We rowed out and found that he had thrown the oars over because she wouldn't let him wear her ring. We took the girl back and let him get back the best way he could. He rowed with his hands.
Mrs. Hoek: There were no real discipline problems because we didn't expect them. Parents expected their children to behave. I can scarcely remember two or three youngsters who were problems. We had no teacher aids and no supervision. Technical know how is not the answer.
Mrs. Madison: I kept them after school. They don't do that now. That's my objection to busing. I told them if you don't do it now, you stay till it's done. School ended at 4. After school was when you gave individual instruction. Teachers won't stay after school now.
Mrs. Hoek: I remember Charles Berger. He later owned the Plantation. He was a problem. He thought he was lucky to be kept after school. He was a good looking fellow and a little devilish.
Parents' attitudes were so different. I remember Murray Selden had gum in his mouth. I motioned him to put it in the basket. After repeated inaction, I took him to the principal. His mother came to school and told him she was ashamed of him. Parents were different--it was a different climate. I remember a family who lived on River Road. They had four sons. When the little one entered kindergarten and was difficult I taught him to spell BOSS. I told him what it meant and that the teacher was the Boss and don't you forget it. He didn't.
They thought they'd got better teachers when they started raising salaries. It was quite the other way. When I started teachers were there because they loved children. I was a teaching principal. I started in Washington Irving in 1923. I went to Whittier Feb.1,1926 and was there 41 years.
Whittier school was two rooms over two rooms until 1926. In the fall of '25 they added a large auditorium with two partitions. That provided a community room. The only other place around was Christ Church. They later closed the partition and added fifth and sixth grades. At first we just had kindergarten first, second and third--fourth fifth and sixth walked to Washington Irving.
Mrs. Madison: I was like the pied piper. My office was in Washington Irving. The children followed me as I walked along. When I first went there all the eighth grade boys were dismissed when they sounded the fire gong. The boys went out to pull the hose cart.
Mrs. Hoek: In 1926 there were no houses across from Whittier--it was all open country--no houses between the school and River Road. It was all furrows except for the Andreas house and a little spring house. There were houses on West Englewood, Ogden and Rutland and a few on Warwick.
Mrs. Madison: I came to Teaneck in 1917 from Vineland. I remember Nov.11, 1918, Armistices Day. We had a parade and marched to the park at the West Englewood Railroad station. There was a bandshell and I led the singing. I remember that park. There was a sign that said "Those who Enter West Englewood Never Leave," Sounded like it was the end.
Mrs. Hoek: Teachers I remember? There was Mrs. Osnedo, Kitty Keener, Miss Tepper. Teaching was so simple then. We didn't need psychiatrists and psychologists.
Mrs. Madison: I remember the big boys in the eighth grade would run up the stairs. The principal had me stand at the stairs and make them come down and walk, not run, up.
Mrs. Hoek: Kitty Keener was a strict disciplinarian. I remember a big boy telling me he couldn't get along with her, I suggested he pick a bunch of flowers from his mother's yard and take them to her. She was wonderful after that. Once I went after school to look at her exhibits. She wasn't there and I told the janitor why I came. The next day she called me up and scolded my for snooping, saying I just wanted to copy what she was doing.
We used to have annual physical education and game contests. Each school entered and had effective costumes. I used to go to the Roxy and take notes on how they did the dances. It was a lot of work but it was good. Six schools took part. We had it in the athletic field.
Mrs. Madison: We had music demonstrations. They couldn't do it today. There was the coordination of the various disciplines. Rhythm bands, etc, We did it two nights with 300 children each night--first, second and third grades with their rhythm bands, xylophones and water glasses. We amplified a recording. The theme was different each year--The Cazrina music one year, Austrian with the Blue Danube another. One year it was the North Pole. We charged 25 cents and couldn't get all the people in the high school. We called Dr. Neulen, our Cecil B. DeMille. I had to tune the water glasses--we used Coca Cola glasses on a special board so we could carry them. We'd have a child lead. There were strict orders to go to the bathroom.We had to get the blue birds at the top of the stage seats. One time one of the Penguins hadn't gone to the bathroom before hand and the whole audience was aware of it.
Mrs. Hoek: If you haven't been in it you don't know the precise timing. involved. Every once in a while measles would hit.
Mrs. Madison: I was a supervisor but I liked to teach. The teachers and I worked together. Now the teacher walks out of the room when the supervisor comes in. That is her free time,
Mrs. Hoek: It seems to me that busing for integration was unfair. It was assuming that blacks couldn't do what white children could. I had a good experience with Teaneck's first integration--the Jewish children.
Before the last additions were built at Whittier we had five classes in the basement. One was in the coal bin. There was a class in the stock room. Today there's a feeling you have to have a splendid building. You don't have to keep spending terrific amounts of money. Better Schools? They are not teaching respect for the history of this country.
When I first went to Whittier we had small classes--16 or 18 for Kindergarten through third grade. There were 101 children in the entire school. When they went to K-6, they had nearly 1,000.
We had excellent Jewish families. I put on programs which fitted Jewish history into all history. I had Chanukah and Christmas programs separate. I went to New York on Saturdays and attended many Jewish services to get the background. That was our first integration problem. I don't think the second has been achieved.
I spoke at the Teaneck Jewish Community Center when it was where Christian Science Church is, I stressed that a child's development is physical, intellectual and spiritual.
Mrs. Hoek: I recall the Caddy house on Teanck Road between Church and Bogert. There's an apartment there now. I knew Matte Scott, she was associate editor of Architecture Magazine, a brilliant woman. David Cady was her sister's son. The front door of the Caddy house was not the main entrance. At the back there were large double doors. They opened on a staircase 8 feet wide. There were large, beautiful rooms upstairs. That is where they used to have Tammany Hall meetings when Sheriff Orser lived there. No one would know of the secret meetings. Matte Scott had a summer place in Old Lyme, Conn. DeLora Norman, her closest friend and she shared a large house. DeLora painted murals--those in the library. Later they built a more modern home on Rogers Lake. It had a studio with a cathedral ceiling. DeLora died before it was completed. Matte Scott was so interested in the library.
I look back and realize what people did for a town. During the integration struggle after I retired I went to Washington, D. C. to see the superintendent of schools there. Dr. Harry Warner of the school board was going down but he got sick so went later with Bennington Gill and Dr. Warner but we couldn't get a plane because of snow. Finally I went with Jules Wolfe to see how Dr. Hanson handled things in Washington. He had fast, slow and middle tracks which were meeting needs of the pupils there. He offered me a job because he said Teaneck schools are outstanding in the U. S.
When I retired after 41 years, parents thought it was because of low social security and offered to make up the difference if I would stay. I was so touched. I retired because of my mother's heart and because of the school set up. The superintendent would not visit teachers' classes. One day I invited Dr. Scribner to come in saying "You've never been in my office in al1 these years! He put his foot over the threshold and said "Now I've set foot in it."
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