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Audio recording of the interview with Wendell Browne

Wendell Browne 

(Interviewed by Ethele Brown on 12/2/1983. Transcription: 11 pages)

Wendell Phillips Browne is a well-known physical therapist and supervisor who became proficient in paraplegic, neurological and orthopedic treatments and therapies (p. 2). He achieved recognition while working under Dr. Abramson at the VA Hospital in New York. Dr. Abramson, while helping non-commissioned officers with some wounded in Europe, was shot in the back and paralyzed. The narrator was one of the first therapists who worked with him in trying to aid in his rehabilitation. When Dr. Abramson reached the high point of his recovery, he became Chief of Service. Some of the many published papers Dr. Abramson wrote concerning his personal experiences with paralysis mention the narrator, and Wendell Browne's name also appears in several rehabilitation articles (p. 8-9).

Mr. Browne has resided in Teaneck with his family since 1960 and says that Teaneck's progressive reputation concerning integration attracted him to the township. His two children attended elementary school at St. Anastasia's from first grade through graduation. After graduating, Mr. Browne states his children attended private schools (p.4). The narrator, who is recently retired, was Chief of Rehabilitation Services at VA Hospital in New York. Mr. Browne explains that he was the first person to go away to school for the orthopedics and prosthetics specialty and that it had taken him twenty-eight years to become Chief of Service. The narrator had worked his way up through the hospital from supervisor, to division supervisor then Acting Chief of Rehabilitation Services and finally Chief of Service.

Much of the interview reflects Mr. Browne's perceptions of Teaneck from the viewpoint of being a North American Indian. The speaker's grandmother on his father's side was part Indian, and he describes his mother's background as Shenecock, Mulatto and English. His father, independent at fifteen years old, was self-educated, went to school at nights while working at the Post Office, and eventually became a lawyer (p. 1) Mr. Browne gives a brief history of early Teaneck when it was the property of the Lenai Lenape Indians, noting that there are several markers in the area which indicate that the Mohawk Trail comes from Englewood on through to Teaneck (p.5).

Mr. Browne's community affiliations include the Boy Scouts, Basketball, C.Y.O., Little League Baseball and Ivy League Football (p. 6).

The narrator concludes his interview by mentioning Native American contributions stating, "If it wasn't for the cooperation and the help received from some of the Indians, we couldn't have accomplished in the development of the United States the things we did." (p. 11) However, he emphasizes that Native Americans do not want to be absorbed into American society; they want to be left alone, educated and clean; they want recognition. Mr. Browne believes Native Americans should be free to pursue their own religion and education (p. 10-11).

As an interesting aside, Mr. Browne relates that his wife, Marie Fitzgerald, sold World Book Encyclopedias and that she noticed the World Book map of New Jersey, which state maps are as a rule comprehensive, did not seem to include the town of Teaneck. His wife brought this fact up at a business meeting and was asked to write directly to Chicago and the publishers of World Book.

They responded with a very nice letter thanking her; and from that point on (ten years from time of interview), Teaneck appears on the World Book state map of New Jersey (p. 7-8).

Interview Comments:   Mr. Clifton Cox also conducted an interview on 2/8/1984.

Transcription Comments:   The Clifton Cox interview begin on page 3 and continues to page 11.


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