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William Linday, Sr., Former Fire Chief
(Interview taped in 1976)
I'm the retired Teaneck Fire Chief. I served Teaneck over 40 years. With me are my son William Lindsay, Jr., his wife Margie, my wife Margaret and his 4 sons, three have been to college and one is in high school.
I moved to Teaneck in 1929 from Leonia. I attended Longfellow School. Mr. Jay was Principal of all the schools. My teacher was Mrs. Martin. I lived in Glenwood Park. There were all farms--the Rockleighs, Letters, Robertsons and Lewises. There were few houses in the No.5 section.
Glenwood Park fire department was started in 1911. The first meeting was in the blacksmith shop of John Kennedy. Our first fire house was 30 by 30 feet on the southeast corner of Oakdene Ave and Glenwood. We built it ourselves. In 1922 we got a new fire house at Glenwood and Railroad Avenue. The town furnished a hose line and small hand truck that pumped 100 gallons of water. The first paid department was in 1935 when they got a 350 gallon pumper. William Kaltenbach was one of the first firemen.
I'll tell what kids used to do for pastime. One of the things they used to do was when the trolley pulled up and the conductor called "All Out. Fycke Woods!" One of the boys was posted and he'd get out and pull the pole off so the conductor would have to get out and put it back. The other boys had a bucket of soft tomatoes and they'd let him have it.
There was a big storage area where the railroad used to store things. After dark the boys would go out and steal the railroad ties -- some of them brand new and they'd have plenty of firewood for the winter. Reiner's was the only store near us. You either went to Hackensack or Cedar Lane. At Reiner's you could buy anything from a pack of cigarettes to a wheelbarrow.
Some of the capers were around Halloween time. They didn't like a store owner--maybe he refused to give them 2 cents worth of candy. The boys hung a bucket on his door filled with water and ashes. Then they'd put a tic tac on his door and when he opened it, he'd be covered with ashes and water. A mess. We had out houses and one electric street light on Glenwood Ave. Now there are plenty of lights and sewers and every one in congenial.
My father was very strict. When he went off to work every day he'd tell my brother and me what we had to do and we did it. I didn't have too much time for capers, but I participated in some.
We used to go to school on the trolley. Once there was a big bag of garlic in the back of the car, when we got to school the teacher asked how we got mixed up with it. She made two of the boys wash their hands in disinfectant. I told her we were learning hygiene and I didn't want to wash in someone else's dirty water. What happened? I got expelled and my father had to come to school.
As things progressed in Teaneck they got better in Glenwood Park -- lights, sewers, etc. I remember when they made a road connecting Fort Lee Road and Glenwood Park. It was built through a swamp using great big trees. They laid it like a floor on top.
There have been many changes in the construction of houses, now they're talking about redevelopment. Teaneck has changed since I came here. I remember the little old school on Fort Lee Road east of Teaneck Road, now a residence. Schools were completed. Oakdene was just completed when I came. Now I see they have some temporary buildings there. Now we have a school in Glenwood Park.
South Jersey where I live now puts me in mind of Teaneck in the old days. But it is growing, too. As for my record, I served as a volunteer in Glenwood Park, as Captain, lieutenant and assistant chief. I worked as an electrician for the municipal fire department and installed 18 fire alarm contact relays. We now have a modern fire alarm system. When I took over as chief it was different than the way it is today. Many ordinances for fire safety have been adopted. They protect people who don't own their homes. Boilers in apartments housing four families must be inspected once a year. This was started after a fire in Fair Lawn. Now fire men keep busy making inspections and seeing about the rate of occupancy.
The fire department has grown from 10 paid to over 112 and the police department has grown with the progress of Teaneck.
Teaneck Public Library
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