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Audio recording of the interview with Milton Bell

Milton Bell 

(Interviewed by Alice Hecht. Transcription: 50 pages)

Dr. Bell is a dentist, who moved to Teaneck with his family in 1952. He sold his first home at 1636 Windsor Road in 1959 to Temple Emeth, which was built next door to him the year before (p.5). Dr. Bell was president of the Kiwanis Club, which he describes as a "great, great club" consisting of professionals, tradesman and storekeepers. He was also active in the Teaneck City Club in the years from 1952 to 1958 (p.6).

In 1963, Dr. Bell decided to run for the Board of Education (p.10). Harvey Scribner was just hired when Dr. Bell came on the Board (p.13). The narrator discusses the politics of his election, specifically his "unbalanced" but successful ticket (p.10-11). He details the controversial issues of the time and describes the corresponding emotional scenes which occurred in the community. He discusses the failure of voluntary busing (p.12) , and the particular problems of Bryant School in the northeast section of town. Dr. Bell recalls when many of his patients in the area near Voorhees suddenly moved out of Teaneck. He refers to a belt plan that dealt with the Bryant and Washington Irving schools situations and believed that the specifics of that plan are recorded in a publication entitled "TRIUMPH IN A WHITE SUBURB" (p.14). The controversy of a centralized sixth grade drew an overflow crowd of more than 1,500 to the high school auditorium. The fire and police departments were called Dr. Bell describes the atmosphere as explosive and frightening (p.15). The narrator further explains that attempts by anti-busing school board members proved unsuccessful in reversing integration trend, because the courts would not permit it (p.16). Dr. Bell speaks frankly about the failed result of the board's attempt at affirmative action in hiring teachers and about the known cases of students from New York City coming into the Teaneck school system and why the board decided to do nothing about it. (p. 20-22).

Dr. Bell was president of the Teaneck Board of Education in 1968/1969 and also became involved with the state and county boards of education. He became president of the County Board of Education in 1973/1974. Dr. Bell was also secretary of the State School Board Association. Before he went off the board in 1975, Dr. Bell had served a total of twelve years.

In 1979, Gov. Brendan Byrne appointed Dr. Milton Bell to the State Board of Dentistry because of his success with the Dental Association; he was later reappointed by the governor for a second term.

Dr. Bell was the first vice president of the Teaneck Jewish Community Center and afterward stayed on as a member of the board of directors, where he was eventually made a life member for all the services rendered by him. Dr. Bell had served as chairman of the personnel committee, the religious committee, the education committee and was superintendent of the Hebrew school (p.25). From pages 25 through 37, Milton Bell relates an unfortunate personal experience as a Teaneck homeowner and property holder that involved his private practice at 765 Queen Anne Road, his attached home with the street address 211 Chadwick Road and newly purchased real estate at 203 Chadwick Road. This lengthy account begins with the unexpected leveling of a neighbor's house and ends with Dr. Bell's home being picketed and the doctor himself being injured when attacked by three angry neighbors. Dr. Bell concludes his interview with several candid remarks about the township, and in particular, about the tenor of the government, council and the various administrative departments and comments on how he believes these respective authorities are perceived by the community it serves. He hopes the township will adopt a less adversarial posture and rather will project a much warmer, welcoming feeling to its residents (p.40- 45).

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