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(Interview taped 6/22/1976)
I have lived in Teaneck since 1936. My mother, father and brother Edwin and I came from Newark. Before that we lived in New York City. I was 16 when we came.
My father started a business, the Parisian Cleaners, at 415 Cedar Lane. Later we moved to 426 Cedar Lane next to the hardware store owned by Harry Wagner. We moved there to be close to the business.
I was nearly through high school when we came. I went to Hackensack High School, although Teaneck High was built then. I graduated at 16 1/2 so it wasn't very long. My brother went to Emerson School and finished at Teaneck High. We later moved to 715 Linden, the apartments there.
My fondest recollection of Cedar Lane is where from the Municipal Building to Queen Anne Road and to Palisade Avenue, it was all forest, a wooded area. Next to our business was an Acme Food Market--where Linn's Stationery and Office Supply is now. Then there was Heywang's gas station. Bob Quirk, Heywang's nephew runs it now. Heywang died several years ago. The bridge was over the railroad tracks when we came,
There was a sort of Keystone Cop arrangement at Garrison Avenue and Cedar Lane, a sentry box in the middle where a cop directed traffic. Cars used to hit it regularly.
Musicant's Flower Shop was where the bicycle store is now. The Elms Tavern was there. It was run by a man named Clausen who was killed in an airplane accident in Newark in 1956--Henry Clausen. At the bottom of the hill where the Pathmark is now was the Casa Mana run by Emil Feld. It was a big restaurant. People from all over Bergen County held affairs there. Feld had a stroke and lived there for several years running the business though he was in poor physical condition. He later died.
Where the Parisian Cleaners is now--429 Cedar Lane--was an empty lot. We purchased the first section of the vacant lot. We put up the building and I'll never forget the time we moved in. We had to vacate our premises by Sept. l. The plaster wasn't dry and the windows weren't in when we moved on Aug.31, 1947. That was the day my son Robert was born. We moved while my wife was in the hospital.
Steiner-Massari later built the row of stores and apartments in the block. They were the ones who built the apartments from Grange Road to Teaneck Road. Woolworth's 5 and 10 cent store at Garrison and Cedar Lane was a landmark for many years.
After I finished high school I worked as a checker at the Big Bear Market on Cedar Lane until I was 19. Then I went into the service. I was among the first ones drafted. Started out in Anti-aircraft and ended in the infantry. I was overseas two and a half years. I came back and got married to Gloria Hecht, an Englewood girl I met at the "Y".
My father and mother retired and moved to Florida eight years ago. I took over. There have been changes in the cleaning business, but we have been fortunate in this town where there are many affluent people. Wash and wear textiles are popular but dry cleaning makes fabrics look better. Thank God we have the kind of people who use dry cleaning.
In 1951 the town decided to put in a parking lot in back of our store. My property was 140 feet deep. The town wanted to take 50 feet and asked me to give up 50 feet. I wasn't going to argue. That was when they moved the American legion building. I remember when they moved that house across Cedar Lane.
That Bicentennial mural on the east wall of my building attracts a lot of attention. Students from Thomas Jefferson Junior High did it. The names of the art teacher and all the kids who took part are on that wall. No one has touched it since it was done--no graffiti. About two months ago there was some pealing and Miss Tamborelle of the library sent a man over with the right colors and touched it up. Next year I'll let the art teacher from Benjamin Franklin Junior High and his kids do a mural, too.
There is trouble with vandalism that worries us. Kids used to hang out in the parking lot by Miller's Drug Store, now they are in back of my area. Merchants have got to police to do something. They let the air out of tires of Miller's trucks and then decided to let out the brake fluid. That could cause a bad accident. The kids used to hang out at Rocklin's but they ran them away from there.
Teaneck is a good town for business as far as goods and services are concerned. People would like to shop here. When the shopping centers opened every one went there. The papers are full of ads that attract them. After a while they like the convenience of shopping here. They have reactivated the Chamber of Commerce and are making an all-out effort. I feel that we have plenty of banks.
My oldest son is 29--or will be Aug. 31. He is in business with me and has two children--7 and 4. I have a daughter 26 and a son 23.
Some one projected that this year there would be 500 new families in Teaneck. I doubted that since there was no building going on, but I'm getting from 20 to 25 new customers a month. It is the turn over. We have a problem in Teaneck. Older people would like to stay, but there are no facilities to this day. They go to high rises in Hackensack and Fort Lee. People are making a real effort to overcome this. They could have put apartments where the Tennis Club is now. That would have been convenient for Senior Citizens, near stores, restaurants, etc.
My son is active in the Chamber of Commerce and we hope to see some changes made. Now we are looking forward to the annual Sidewalk Sale when I can buy some Teaneck Bicentennial T shirts. Every one has a good time when they hold the sidewalk sale.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Tel.: (201) 837-4171, Fax: (201) 837-0410