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Mrs. Ida Damrau Mortensen
(Interview taped 9/18/1970)
I was born 74 years ago in house where the Grand Union now stands on Queen Anne Rd. near DeGraw. My father came from Alsace Lorraine and at first worked with flowers on Phelps estate. Greenhouses were where Ronald's furniture store is now.
Queen Anne, then called Westfield Ave., was a dirt road. No gas or electric, but we had an artesian well and people came from all over for the water.
I went to school on Fort Lee Road. Miss Howland was our teacher. There were no more than 15 pupils. My classmates includes the McCaffreys and Edna DeGraw. I remember the fire gong where the luncheonette is now. My father used to bang it with a hammer whenever there was a fire.
My father later had his own green house, specialized in sweet peas and chrysanthemums for the New York market. The whole family worked bunching them. First we tied them with raffia, later with rubber bands which were easier. We had four big greenhouses.
Lorena Carroll was my girl friend. Her father was with Fiss, Doerr and Carroll who had a big stock farm between Queen Anne Rd. and Palisade Ave. near Cedar Lane. The stables were enormous. Mr. Jackson had a boarding house for all the Carroll's help. Willie Jackson is still living in Hackensack. The boarding house was on Palisade Ave. in the woods.
Lorena had a governess and they had a footman and a pony cart. Of course they had high stepping horses. Mr. Carroll wanted her to go to Dwight School . We went there for a while. Lorena's aunt was Ida Ringling of Baraboo, Wis. She married Paul Lambert.
We had no near neighbors. The Carroll's, then the next was a family at Palisade and Cedar Lane where Richter's is and then the Garrisons on Garrison Ave. at Beverly Rd. We were so happy when a store was opened where the gas station is on Fort Lee Road. They sold candy. P. J. Nugent had the only grocery store in Hackensack. Tom McCaffrey was the grocer boy, came one day to take the orders and another day to deliver. Peddlers used to come around with shoes, clothing and other things. Every one was glad to see them.
Capt. Stewart had a big house opposite Hillside Ave., a little beyond Oakdene. They had three girls--they were friends of Mrs. Blauvelt Westervelt. The house burned down. The Stewarts moved to Connecticut after selling to Hughes. They had a caretaker-- it was all apple orchards then.
The trolley was near us. The Garrison boys used to wait the trolley near our house. I remember when we got our first near neighbor. What a thrill. They built where the Grand Union Parking lot is now.
My father came from Alsace Lorraine in 1893, my brother had been born there. He came to Teaneck because my aunt lived here in what had been the schoolmaster's house. We used to go there. The second floor had little windows, two bedrooms, a brook in the back. They had five children. Later they bought a farm in South Hackensack from Hudson St. to Teterboro. Sold it for nothing.
Even though my father had a greenhouse, he farmed across the street grew tomatoes. He worked for Phelps for a couple of years. Retired at 50, the depression cane along, every one needed money, couldn't repay loans.
I walked to the Lutheran Church on Essex St. in Hackensack. We'd go to church there in the morning and on Sunday evenings we'd go again to prayer meeting at the Sunday school. Had good times, put on plays. Willie DeGraw taught us how to tango.
Donald Mathewson ran the Phelps greenhouses. He was a Scotsman. They used to grow luscious grapes. Frank DeRonde used to drive by in his horse and buggy.
My grandmother bought five pieces of furniture when the Phelps family held its auction, a love seat, platform rocker and arm chairs. My father had one of the side chairs in the greenhouse for a long time. Later he threw it on a trash pile, tried to break it up but couldn't. I salvaged it, refinished it and made needlepoint. My daughter has it today. Mrs. Dahl bought the fancy bed. She lived on Teaneck Rd. on the old Cornelius Terhune House.
After my marriage, I moved to a house owned by George Demarest.
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