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David & Edna Musicant
Interview taped by Edna Spath & Mildred Taylor 8/16/1976
We came to Teaneck from Garfield in 1935. We had just been married. We opened a flower shop at 402 Cedar Lane where Lou Fink was. The bowling alley was downstairs. It was quite a nice size shop. I had worked for my brother-in-law who was in the flower business in Garfield. Our first home was at 49 Robinson St., a duplex. Teaneck had a population then of about 21-22,000. It was still country.
Edna: We used to go to Ayers Court to pick greens for our pieces. It was all woods there. We used the greens for the base of our arrangements--to fill in. We had to conserve in those days.
Dave: The Golf Course was still here. Gus Rothenbach had a restaurant east of Teaneck Road. He sold that and opened one in a house on Canterbury Court. Later he had the Rathskellar where the Fashion Barn is on Front St. and Cedar Lane. I remember the golf course because we used to get ambulance cases from there.
The Ambulance Corps was organized in 1939. I was a member 31 year before going off six years ago. The first members included Corneliu Van Dyk, Fred Dolch, Vincent Ridley, Walter Cawley, Frank Delany, Leo Botyos, Art Fortuna. Dr. Bookstavor, myself and one or the Wachas. At first our headquarters were behind the police station. Then we moved across from Holy Name Hospital. We let that property go back to the Township when we opened the headquarters on Windsor Rd. We had one ambulance at first. My son Arthur has been with the corps 15 years.
Edna: Both of our boys are in business with us--Arthur and Alan. Dave decided to go into the funeral business 29 years ago. I stayed with the flower shop. I have been retired six months and I'm still busy. We had a war. Dave had a defense job. He worked from 4 to 12 p.m. He would open the flower shop in the morning While I took the children to school. I went to the store when he went to work around 3 and I'd take deliveries with the kids in the truck.
Dave: I was with Groove Pin Co. in Union City. Mr. Theurer of Teaneck owned it.
Edna: Gas was scarce. We had to deliver our flowers. We got so much allowance because we were in business. but the flower business was not considered essential.
We lived two years on Robinson Street, then moved to Selvage Avenue. We were there 25 years. The kids went to Washington Irving and Teaneck High School. The high school was beautiful in those days. Have you seen it lately?
Twelve years ago we moved upstairs in the building that was the funeral home here in Hackensack. We were on hand for calls. We lived there seven years, then we decided to build. The house was knocked down to make way for this building. We now live at 514 Tilden Ave., Teaneck.
Dave: I was president or the Chamber or Commerce in the 50s. There is a plaque in Carl Mellone's store. We used to give picnics for kids. We had big turnouts. There are a lot of younger people in business now. They are not interested in a Chamber of Commerce. The business districts are divided and it is hard to get together. What is good for one section is not good for another.
Dave: I was the first house chairman of the Jewish Community Center when it was on Queen Anne Road. I am now a life member of the board. I remember when we were building the center and a storm blew out all the windows. Capt. Harry Davis of the fire department put tarpaulins at the windows so we could conduct services. That was when we built the first step of the Center on Sterling Place--about 27 years ago. Arthur was Bar Mitzvah then and he is now 40.
Our first patient with the Volunteer Ambulance Corps was Joe Devine. He had a drug store on Cedar Lane--later Pfeiffer's who used to work for Devine--599 Cedar Lane. Joe was a World War I Vet. We took him to the VA hospital in New York--Kingsbridge.
I am a past president of the Teaneck City Club--1949, past president of the Teaneck Kiwanis Club--1957. It used to be Ridgefield Park--Teaneck Kiwanis Club.
I have been a member of Teaneck Masonic Lodge 274 for 30 years and am a 32nd degree Mason.
Before we had the temple on Queen Anne Road, Dr. Bookstaver and I carted drugs and things from the temple to the Masonic club on Monterrey Terrace. for the high holy day services. We sold the building on Queen Anne Road to the State Police and they sold it to the Christian Scientists. There are now six temples in Teaneck. Two Conservative, two Reform and two orthodox.
I was Man of the Year of the Jewish War Veterans, Schweiger-Dobrow Post in 1965 and Man of the Year of the Y. M.-Y.W.H.A. in 1970. I am a board member emeritus.
I am past chancellor commander of the Knights of Pythias, on the board of Jewish Funeral Directors of America and an advisory board member of the Bergen State Bank.
I am president of Gutterman-Musicant-Kreitzman Funeral Directors, vice president of Temple Beth El in Hackensack and chairman of administration. It used to be on State Street and has now moved to Summit Avenue.
Edna: I am president of Cancer Care, Bergen County Chapter. I've been president 4 years. It is a different type organization. The money we raise is all used for the patients. In homes where a patient terminally ill is sent home from the hospital and one in the family has to go to work, we send a home maker to be there when the bread winner is at worl. We counsel the family and help them not to be too hurt. Our money is used only for that kind of work--direct help. We raised $21,000 last year--bingo games twice a month--flea markets, art shows. Fund raising changes. This year we'll have a Chinese auction. I run a boutique in my home -- pants, suits, blouses, etc. All profit goes to Cancer Care.
Dave: We weren't the only florists in Teaneck when we came. There was Osmer Einhoff down on Pomander Walk--he was more a landscaper. Steinhoff was on Cedar Lane below Queen Anne Rd. I understand Theresa Steinhoff is working for Hotel in Fort Lee.
Edna: I love living in Teaneck. We were there 41 years. The only thing I miss now that I'm retired is not knowing what's going on. In the flower business we knew what was going on--cradle to the grave--weddings, and all. We did weddings for the children of some people whose weddings we did.
Davs: I was with Dr. Bookstaver when he died in that fire at St. Anastasia School.
Teaneck was a smaller town when we came. We were all trying to make a go. There was a lot of civic pride. When we would say we were from Teaneck everyone would say God!
We used to go from house to house asking a dollar donation for the Ambulance Corps. Some people would close the door in our face I was glad when later they'd call us and we would respond although they woutdn't contribute a dollar.
Edna: He'd go out on a call and leave the flower shop empty. I'd come in and find people waiting.
Dave: Harry Zimmer left his stationery store--office supplies-- many a time to go out on call. We were the day men on the corps. Van Dyke, the dog catcher was always around and there was Vince Ridley who worked for the town. It's different now they have women in the corps. We fought against the sleep in. but things change.
Edna: My mother lived with us. Once we were going to buy a property on Windsor Road. It was all woods. My mother said she would not live there--she'd be scared. That was where the junior high is now.
Dave: We are the third oldest members of the Jewish Community Center. Mr. Zelnick whose son is a dentist is the oldest. He used to handle the delivery boys of the Bergen Record in Teaneck.
Our son Arthur lives in Teaneck--on Hanover Street. But he is moving to Edison in two weeks. We are opening a funeral home in Union. He has two children. Alan lives in Park Ridge. He has three children.
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