|All interviews were taped and documented. They are available through the Reference Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.|
Dr. Bernard R. Cheo
(Interviewed by Clifton B. Cox on 10/17/1984. Transcription: 17 pages)
Dr. Cheo, who is a professor of Electrical Engineering at New York University, came to Teaneck with his family in 1968. Although they found Teaneck to be conveniently located to New York City, the airports and major highways, Dr. Cheo says that was not their main reason for choosing to move here. What attracted them to Teaneck was the town's reputation for diversity and that it had successfully implemented busing into their school system. Also, in the late Sixties and early Seventies, Teaneck's school system was considered to be excellent. The fact that this is a town where many university professors and professional classical musicians reside was another reason. Dr. Cheo decided to settle on Johnson Avenue in Teaneck. In fact, Dr. Cheo says he has several neighbors that live within a block of him who are members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, City Ballet. He adds Teaneck is "the type of town which I could brag about." (p. 6 - 7)
From pages one through four, Dr. Cheo briefly summarizes the events of his childhood in China in 1911 as well as the educational path he pursued that eventually brought him to the United States in 1954. Dr. Cheo finished his college education in Taiwan and came to the U.S. as a graduate student. The narrator explains that he courted his wife in Taiwan; she was among the few women students who were studying electrical engineering. However, two years after his arrival in this country, she came to the United States, too; and Dr. Cheo says they were married in 1957. On page two, Dr. Cheo discusses the different ethnic groups that comprise the broad term CHINESE. He returns to this theme on pages fifteen through seventeen and shares a little Chinese history.
After Dr. Cheo received his Ph.D. from the University of California in 1961, he and his wife and now two children moved to New Jersey. Dr. and Mrs. Cheo held positions in NYU and William Patterson College respectively; so Teaneck was an obvious choice for convenience of commuting to work.
Dr. Cheo assesses the late Sixties and early Seventies as a time of turmoil for the country and the people. He says even the Electrical Engineering Department of New York University was in bad shape. He explains the hostilities toward the Vietnam War effort turned young people away from the engineering field which resulted in NYU experiencing financial difficulties and having to sell its uptown University Heights campus to the state of New York (p. 7 - 9).
In Teaneck during this time, Dr. Cheo observed various awakenings, which he labels as healthy and good. He believes this emerged out of the growing ethnic pride of the blacks as well as the 1967 Israeli war, evidenced in lots of Jewish young people in this country taking on a new dimension in their own self perception. Dr. Cheo feels even though his own children's ethnic identity unfortunately didn't amount to very much, they did receive an excellent education and continued on to colleges (p. 9 - 10).
It is Dr. Cheo's opinion in 1984 that students are less prepared when they get into college. The experimentation in the early Sixties, close to the Sputnik era, yielded results that it had deep problems.
Speaking to discrimination, Dr. Cheo says he never sensed at any time reluctance on the part of the seller or the broker in making a deal for any of the thirty different houses they were shown. However, when he and his family moved into their new home on Johnson Avenue, it was apparent their neighbors already knew a great deal about them; word apparently had spread around (p. 12)
Dr. Cheo concludes his interview commenting on the vitality of Teaneck and the traditional and lovely residential charm of its neighborhoods--the Tudors and tree-lined streets--he hopes its skyline will never become dotted with tall buildings (p. 13 - 14).