All interviews were taped and documented.They are available through the Reference
Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy
of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.

Larry Kuusela

(Interview taped 3/1976)

I have lived in Teaneck since 1914. I have had this agency at 1000 Teaneck Road since 1945--we lived at 430 Hillcrest Avenue. In our area, Main Street, Bogota was the main street. River Road and Cedar Lane as I recall were dirt streets. I recall an old house on Chestnut Street where a farmer lived. He had dairy cows. After 7 o'clock in the evening after milking the cows we would go there and get fresh milk in our pails. Sheffield Farms was there later.

My father was in the building business. He built 2 or 300 homes on Cumberland Avenue, Sussex and Lambert Roads, Salem, Hartwell, Stelton, Warner Place and Cranford Place. He lived in the Bogota section and we swam in the Hackensack River in the early 20s. North of Cedar Lane to the Englewood line was all woods--before Route 4 was built. That was part of the Phelps Estate. There was a sprinkling of homes in the West Englewood Area to the Bergenfield line.

Col. William Phelps owned where Fairleigh Dickinson University is.  He had a homestead on River Road. From River Road to the Hudson River he planted trees--some are now 50-60 feet high. Where the town hall is was a castle--the old Phelps homestead. They had a fire. Now it is the site of the present Town Hall.

There were some well known restaurants in the early 20s. The Blue Bird Inn where Volk's Funeral home is now. Where Fairleigh Dickinson dormitories are was Sigrist's Restaurant, Dick Ackerman's father had a homestead where the phone company is now. He raised sheep. There was a bridal path from Cedar Lane to the present hi6h school athletic field. It went where Red Road in near the school property around town hall.

When I was a boy there was Emerson School #3, Longfellow #2 and Irving #1 and Bryant #4. The main transportation was the Hudson River Trolley to Paterson. The area south of the town was developed when the trolley came. We shopped in Hackensack. For transportation we walked or used a horse and buggy. When the George Washington bridge was built they extended Cedar Lane.

The police department in the early 20s used mostly bikes. The fire department was all volunteer. They had horse shoe rings in different locations. In case of fire you rang the bell and the fire department would arrive. Different rings on the fire alarm bell.

I remember when I resided at 430 Hillcrest, 515 River Road was the Henderson estate. The house was abandoned and it was called the Spook House. My father bought it and tore it down for two apartments. At 772 Stelton St during World War II was an army barracks. That was the highest elevation in town-- at Stelton and Lindbergh Blvd. Boys were there from all over the country. When there was an air raid warning called by, sirens wardens knocked on doors and told you to put your light out if it was on.

I've seen the population grow from 3,000 to 46,000. I attended Emerson School from grades 1 to 8, then Teaneck High.  The Principal at Emerson was Mrs. Mary Bernhard. My teachers were  Miss Riggles and Miss Bigby.  When my daughter went to Washington Irving School they taught her.  When we went there to visit Miss Riggles said, "Don't tell the children I taught at Emerson." The Principal at Teaneck High was Leon High, the  Charlie Steel. When I graduated, my teachers included Mary Galvin for English, Mrs. Duffy for Latin, Vernon Dolph was the coach.  They built Teaneck High in 1927.  I think it opened in 1928.  Most of the students attended Leonia or Hackensack High before that.

Most of our shopping for food and clothes was done in Hackensack. There was the Phelps Manor Country Club east of Teaneck Road between Route 4 and Cedar Lane. I think the mayor at the time they changed to the Council-Manager form was Lacey Walker. I think the library was where it is now but it was a wooden building.  The only newspaper was the Bergen Evening Record -- now The Record.  When the George Washington Bridge was built there was a parade from the bridge to Hackensack.  July 4 and Memorial Days there were parades during 20s and 30s.  There were two banks -- the People's Trust and the West Englewood National, now the National Community Bank on State Street at the Plaza.

Civic Clubs? Well, the Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions clubs were formed in the latter 20s.The Rotary met first where the present Carriage Club is, then Sigrid's, then the Casa Mana and now the Innwood Manor.

Holy Name Hospital was built in the late 20s -- 1926 or 27. I was born at 518 Hooper (cooper?) St. In the early 20s, coal was the main energy.  Heat was furnished by coal. Some homes in Glenwood Park had out houses. I remember that. Was Teaneck mostly farms? I'd say about 25 percent. Many times we hiked to the George Washington Bridge. As a Boy Scout we hiked to Point Lookout where the Englewood Golf Club is and camped there overnight. The scoutmaster was Rev. Sauter. Then there was Arthur Storms, Stromberg and Eddie Hasse. Churches? I Just recall the Community Church built in the 20s. Rev. Turnbach was the only pastor I recall.

 

Back to Oral History of Teaneck