|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.|
|NARRATOR:||Ruth & Harold Glick (R) Ruth (H) Harold|
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||June 1, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (8/4/1984)|
This is an interview with Ruth Glick and Dr. Harold Glick on June 1, 1984 for the Teaneck Oral History Project by June Kapell.
(I) Ruth and Harold, you've been in town for how long?
(H) I guess thirty two years.
(I) Why Teaneck?
(H) Well Teaneck because we've had family here and also my practice started in the neighboring town and so we moved from Queens to Teaneck.
(I) You had small children at the time?
(R) When we moved here, it was just the beginning of my pregnancy with Cathy. Harold's sister and her family had lived here for many years. They were one of the first Jewish families in Teaneck.
(I) How did they choose Teaneck?
(R) Because her husband was in business in New Jersey not too far from here.
(H) He had a cousin on the very next block. And they were even an earlier Jewish family.
(R) Do you want to hear a story about what happened with them?
(R) They had neighbors next door whose children where pretty much the same age as her children who were Catholic and her kids came home crying because they had called her kids, you know, dirty Jew and you people killed Christ and everything. So she went to the priest and said, what kind of Christianity are you teaching from the church that you have your people talk like this to my children. And she talked to the neighbor and they became very close friends for many, many years as neighbors lived next door and they were really close to the point where wasn't that Kate
(H) I am not so sure. Was that Kate?
(R) I think it was Kate's daughter and the mother had not only became a close friend of theirs but became a close friend of our and was our best babysitter.
(I) Well, then your children arrived after you got here. How long did it take you?
(R) I was working when we came here. I was working in New York. I was working in a social agency.
(I) Well I know that you've been very active so that I am just trying to get the time frame. You moved in and your family arrived soon afterwards and did you stop working then?
(R) Yes I stopped working before Cathy was born. We moved in in February and the next September she was born and that's when I stopped.
(H) I guess the time that the children started going to school and the time that first budget defeat was when we became educationally aware of a threat to us and the educational system that was so important to us was the idea of educating our family here in Teaneck.
(I) And what did you do one you became aware that there were threats to the educational system? What form did your action take?
(R) Well first I was active in the National Council of Jewish Women. That I really had to let drop because then we became active in supporting the schools. First it was just with the PTA. And I was active in the Whittier PTA and then later in the high school.
(R) It was just some committee. I don't even know what it was.
(H) After the first budget defeat when Anderson, it was Anderson, wasn't it, had taken over the school system and there was a reaction in town to the creation of the Field school. After the Field school had been voted in, wasn't it, there was a reaction feeling that too much money was being spent on education and the interests in town those interests who were crazy about education were really going to absorb all the town's taxes.
(R) And you know who those people were?
(I) Well, who?
(R) They were Jewish. The Field school had a lot of Jewish people and there was a lot of feeling about that.
(H) That next election.
(I) Let me clarify that a moment. You are saying there was opposition to the Field school by the same Jewish people.
(R) Nope. No, no, no. There were undercurrents of opposition to that kind of money being spent by the big spenders and the big spenders who were interested in education and the big spenders is no quotes were mostly Jewish families and a lot of the people who were non-Jewish objected to that. Especially if they didn't live in the Field school area. And they objected to the money.
(I) Was this an organized group?
(R) No, no, no.
(H) Well there was an organized group. But there was an organized group. There was a group headed at the point in certain districts of the town and headed by a fellow by the name of Vinnie Maher. I forget the name of the organization
(R) Do you remember the name?
(I) The Lower Taxes League?
(H) Well I am talking about the Teaneck Taxpayers, not even they
(R) No, that was before Teaneck Taxpayers.
(H) They were a sort of respectable, but this was another group and I am not even sure of the name anymore. Frank Hall was a member
(H) Yes, right. And there was another fellow who then became very active in the Planning Board in fact one of them is a still on the Planning Board. And Peter Zeleny.
(R) Peter Zeleny and Vinnie Maher were buddy. I went to a meeting in his house. Can you imagine?
(H) Well anyway the concern June was resulted in the first defeat of the budget that Teaneck had ever suffered which alarmed a lot of people and then, at that point, under the board's auspices there was a committee being formed in order to try to win the budget on the second.
(R) Remember there was a two week interval between votes. That is no longer existing but there was a two week interval and you had a second vote. A chance to mobilize support for the budget.
(H) At that point, they appointed a committee that was going to work in conjunction with the board to pass the
(R) They didn't appoint it.
(H) All right. I was done within the group that came that day. Now there was this fellow
(I) The group that came where?
(R) Now wait a minute. It was
(H) To the board meeting
(R) it was a board of Ed meeting. The Board of Ed used to meet in a board room which is now the office in the high school right outside of the main entrance. And I remember because I was sitting in back of Harold Weinberger. It was mobbed. Usually you get about ten people at those board meeting. Remember they had to move them after a while because everybody came. This meeting, Harold Weinberger was president of the board of ed and he was officiating and talking about how we are going to get the budget passed the second time around. And I came with a because I had figured out that we had to organize the town and get people out to get the voters out. So I raised my hand and I started to say it. And some woman over there said, you don't know what you are talking about and guess who that was? Liz Heubert. And I had never met her before. So she said, we got it all organized already and she
(H) Well they did.
(R) Then, of course, what came out was it was Milt Bell and Julian Kramer and Bill Thurnauer. Those three had gotten together and they were beginning to line up the town by district to work so when she started saying that, I said, well you got it all organized. I'll work with you. And so then they had an intermission in the board meeting and we all went out in the hall and we were talking and Yvette Simon, Yvette and Hermie Simon, who live on Ogden were talking they are in my district and so Hermie said, well you seem very interested, why don't you be chairman of our district so I said OK and so we organized it and Ada Mai Stein, don't you have her name down, was there and Yvette and Hermie and a lot of people from our district and so, you know, then we all got together and we got the vote out and
(H) I don't know whether the budget
(R) I don't remember whether, no, it didn't pass.
(H) It didn't pass the second time either.
(R) No, it don't pass because Rose and I were at the town house waiting for the votes to be counted and when the votes came in, and we lost, Rose said to me, Ruth, you have to do something. So I said, why me? and she said, you have to get it going because she knew how I felt so the next morning. I got on the phone and I called people who I had been hearing at board meetings who sounded like they know what was going on and they could contribute something to the meeting and they didn't talk just to hear themselves talk. They could work and those were the people who I called. And rose and I really organized that first meeting and that was how, we organized the meeting to say, what could we do. That we were aghast that a town like Teaneck could defeat a school budget and so these were the people. We had the Biersteins and all the people I mentioned to you. You want me to name them?
(R) They had the Biersteins, you had Orra Davage, we had LaMar Jones, Esther Dinerman, we had Art and Dottie Stevenson, we had the Ngais, we had Isabel and Harold Letts,
(I) And Rose's last name
(R) Rose Levitt
(H) Ruth Kaplan.
(R) No. Ruth wasn't involved.
(H) But the other Ruth was.
(R) Ruth Kessler, probably. Both Ruth and what was his first name?
(I) It sounds as though you had a house full.
(R) About thirty five people.
(H) It was larger than usual. We really didn't think that many people would come.
(R) And as a result, what they did was elect a steering committee to determine what the goals of the group should be, what, and make a constitution that would limit what we would do and define what we would do and they picked a name and we were on our way and then we had a few meetings. I wasn't even on the steering committee. The group elected who was going to be on the steering committee and it was the Biersteins and the Stevensons, you know, and a few people like that. There were five people and that other couple was on. Five people on the steering committee and they did all the work of drawing up a constitution and by-laws and the name and everything.
(I) And the name was?
(R) Teaneck Citizens for Public Schools.
(I) Known as TCPS.
(R) Yes. And then we had a meeting, a big townwide meeting, and we drew up little invitations which we folded over and had mimeographed and I don't know how we, who we sent them to, but we sent them all over and we put something in the Teaneck shopper and we rented a room, I think they gave us, down ont he corner of Cedar Lane where Howie Siegel had an office after that.
(H) He was involved with us.
(R) Yeah. He was involved later. It was an insurance company's office and we kept running next door to bring of folding chairs. There was so many people, we couldn't believe it. And we were signing up members and everybody was chipping in money and we started and organization. You know, a lot of people were aghast that a school budget could be defeated in Teaneck and that 's how it started.
(H) Just to get this thing moving along, it might be interesting, one of the organizations, part of the organization that was, we felt was very important were the so called Research Committee. And there we had Stan Gilinsky who had just participated with the suit against the board I believe on busing of his own children.
(R) Because he lived around the corner from the Field School and he was going to have to bus his
(H) It was the redistricting, that's right.
(H) And Stan Gilinsky had become involved and was highly respected by the board even after the suit and who was in important, you know, knew research. And then we got John Wagner and the fellow whose wife was a librarian.
(R) Oh sure. Herb and Hilda Shufro.
(H) Herb Shufro involved. And this group began to get
(R) It was a fantastic committee. They were so bright.
(H) To get a statistics on why it was worthwhile for a town to back education, you know. We showed things like how property values would rise and my own involvement, I took on a projection which I think becomes important in the story a little later, of trying to understand the anatomy of the town as a political unit and I remember going over, I got all the statistics for the voting records for many, many years back and seeing that there was a very definite pattern of even though there had never been a budget defeat before, that certain districts of the town would vote more consistently for the budget that those certain others which always voted against the budget. And we tried to analyze it not only on their voting records, but on their ethnic makeup. and that became a very definite knowledge. We began to understand that the town was not a homogeneous town. That each district seemed to have specific types of ethnic or religious or national groups within it and that determined the, you, the way the vote came in on budget voting.
(R) And actually that study, that research was really so board and covered so many aspects of the town and it makeup that it was used by the board, they kept referring to it, because it was published by us, you know, just by TCPS, so the copies were available and it was used for years and years to analyze the town and to understand why people voted as they did and what were the factors that went into it - economics, you know, status, and political preference and all kinds of factors went into it. So that it was a study that was referred to for many years.
(H) I believe, if I remember correctly, that when I got, I had not been knowledgeable about the character of the town and it was a Leo Gamow if I remember correctly was the man who
(R) But he wasn't involved with TCPS
(H) Well I know, but he already had started, I used him as a consultant at that point because he had been a democratic chairman for a while there and had been active in getting the Taxpayers League broken years before that. That was the name of the organization, the Taxpayers League. and it was at that point that I think it was Oscar Epstein invited me to come to a group called the Good Government Group which was lead by Clarence Lee and there were fellows like Marvin Zalk in it if I remember. I think Dick Humm and the other Dick
(R) They moved to upstate New York
(I) It may come back to you later. There was a nucleus of the Good Government Group.
(H) Yes. This had been a group which participated on a non-partisan
(R) Hussong, Betty Hussong.
(H) On a non-partisan basis, in other words, that was its credo that it was going to be non-partisan and they would get together and Clarence Lee, who had been a captain, a retired captain in the Navy, would always get a blackboard and the group of us would sit around and that's how decisions were made just by counting who, which candidates we would back so this, of course, that in some ways had already established myself at least while Ruth was working on TCPS as going into the election of board members because Ruth's TCPS had said that it would have been better for the organization for a long term point of view of survival not to back candidates because its fortunes or failure would rise with their election of candidates or the failure to defeat.
(R) We said that we want ed to focus on educational issues.
(I) It started with the budget defeat.
(I) And actually the issues became what?
(R) Well one of the major tenets was to educate the community as to the importance of education. We felt that they didn't understand if they could vote down a budget, they didn't understand the value of educating their children. so that was one of our things. And in order to educate the community, we developed a constantly growing mailing list so that we sent out a newsletter every month and we had different people do it from time to time. Mort Handler would write it sometimes, Eph Lewis would write it sometimes and I would pick it up form the house and edit it and run it over and we would put ads in and who would I take it to? Well, I took it to, we'd put things in the Teaneck Shopper before we mailed them out actually so that we had a little news items in the Shopper on a regular basis. Sometimes to the Record. If we had meetings then we would get Record reporters. We had an art contest a couple of, two or three years running, on a theme of, you know, what my school means to me or something like that and we would give prizes to children in different categories, you know, from the primary grades through the secondary grades and we had artists from the Bergen County Art Association Judge them and then we would hold the awards assembly in the high school, you know, and the kids would come and everything so it was fun. And it was nice. And it was a way of highlighting the importance of education because it was an educational thing and the kids were involved and the teachers and of course the parents had to be involved too so we just felt, oh I know what the, we had a series of articles in the Shopper in addition to the newsletter that went out through a large mailing list. We would put articles in the Shopper which would highlight something positive about the schools and we would go and interview the principals or some teachers and get information about programs that were going on in different schools throughout the town and that would be a weekly series actually in the Shopper, the Teaneck Shopper, so that people were getting information about the schools from a positive point of view rather than just knock it down. We had meetings on a bit variety of topics, whatever was going on. We had a lot of meetings on what racial imbalance means and different ways in which other communities had integrated the schools. That was a big problem for many years. We had meetings on the possibility of double sessions when that became a threat.
(I) And the time of all this was the early 1960s? Or the mid 1960s?
(H) 63 or 64.
(R) Early and really all through the 60s. TCPS really was actively involved for close to fifteen years. And then of course in the later years, in the 70s, there seemed to be less interest in the town and a lot of apathy about education and those of us who had been involved were no longer as involved because most of us had children who already had graduated the high school and had gone all through the schools and we didn't see other people taking our place but I am sort of jumping the gun because that's, that's the end.
(I) That's all right. We can go back. We can jump.
(R) But we had marvelous speakers who came. Who was the guy from, who went to Russia and wrote a book, was a writer for the new York Times?
(I) Somebody who lives in Teaneck?
(R) No. No.
((I) Oh, you had speakers from all over.
(H) Fro all over. We had Bonnie Prudden, we had Harrison
(R) Harrison Salisbury, that's who I am thinking of. Harrison Salisbury came. What's his name, the Senator who is now in jail. He flew up from Washington just to speak to us.
(I) Pete Williams.
(R) Matty got him at the airport and brought him over to our meeting. He were talking about an all year around school and there was lots of research going on about that and there was some man up around the Cornell area who said, anytime, I'll come anytime and speak. We had people on that. We had two nuns come down from some Catholic College to speak to us about some, I don't even remember the aspect of education anymore.
(H) I think it was on the integration issue.
(R) They were marvelous. And people used to laugh, Ruth, I said to them, well if you ever want to teach in a public school, please think of Teaneck. You know, they were so marvelous, it would have been an asset to have those women here. We had all kinds of people coming. We had professors of math who happened to be members of TCPS, professors in colleges in New York who spoke on the new math when that developed in the school system and they tried to help people understand. They got the adults interested.
(I) who were they, do you recall?
(R) Oh yes. Let's see. You had Gene Stamper was one of them and you had, what's his name, you know who I am thinking of.
(I) Well, we will have to come back to him too.
(R) But every time new programs would come and be developed in Teaneck, we would sponsor a meeting on it so that we would inform the adults in the community of what it was like so we had, when they had this whole spiral program developing, you remember.
(I) Of course.
(R) Ok. so we had people coming from the school system to speak on that. Oh, I couldn't possibly begin to tell you what ten or twelve years worth of monthly programs could cover but we covered everything that was going on in education. When they had, what was that thing that Silverman wrote, something in the classroom, not Chaos in the Classroom - Crisis in the Classroom - we co-sponsored a meeting that was held in Englewood, because the Englewood group really sponsored it. They could get, they got Charles Silverman to come but we co-sponsored it with them. What else? Crisis in the Classroom, that's what it was because it was all about open classroom and we had a lot of meeting on open education as a result of that.
(I) You did everything but sponsor candidates.
(R) Yeah. We dealt with every conceivable issue involved with education. Maury Hillson was active and he came and he got a lot of information then we had a series of workshops Maury lead. We had them at night in BS. I forget about that. And a number of the teachers participated in it and he dealt with, I don't remember the specific issues that he dealt with but since he's a professor of education, he brought up a number of current issues that were in the forefront of progressive education. But I can't remember them any more. But it was a series of workshops that we sponsored.
(I) Did you chair the organization for many years?
(H) She was never a chairman.
(R) I never wanted to be the chairman. We had mostly men. That was my chauvinism that, in those times, since the PTAs always had women doing it and they seemed to be not effective, Art was the first president.
(I) That's the reverend.
(R) Reverend Stevenson. And I think Boris may have been the second president. Bill Thurnauer was president a couple of times after that. Henry McKenna was a number of years later. Harold Letts was president. He was an excellent president.
(I) Also there were a number of reverend there. The Rev. Letts, the Rev. McKenna.
(R) There was Ruth and her 'mnisterial' council.
(H) Wasn't I president once?
(H) No. I was never president.
(R) You were just president of the PTA.
(H) I was Vice President. With Boris.
(I) Wasn't the Rev. Wagner involved?
(R) No. He never, he was chairman of the research committee.
(H) He was very involved.
(R) Lisa became involved later. She was the first treasurer.
(I) Lisa Heubert?
(R) She used to say, listen, I'm tired of looking for money. When people see me, they cross over to the other side of the street.
(I) What kind of research did they Rev. Wagner do?
(H) They did research, you know, shortly after Stan had lost the suit against the board, he
(I) We started referring to this - about redistricting and his child
(R) Well he maintained a completely ethical stature the whole time, all during the time that he had the suit against the board which he lost, he insisted that his children go to school in the way that the board had ordered and he did not tinge their attitudes negatively towards the school. This was a legal matter and that's how he handled it and he became, he was in support of the schools and the board the whole time. He really was completely ethical about everyone.
(H) They had time take up a demography study to see what the school population would be for the number.
(R) That was ours. That was the board's but then we used
(H) No. That was the boards.
(R) Projection of population
(H) With our Stan Gilinsky. Then Stan worked with us with John and I think I mentioned the other people before. And we did a number of studies on how the town would benefit from a good educational system basically. As I recall it now, time too had passed here and I don't remember everything. But I say, My own involvement was not in that. There's was much more esoteric. i got myself involved with the possibility, because I must say, even though we were not going to work for candidates, at that point, we were still going to work for the winning of the budget.
(R) Which would support the schools.
(H) So that we were going to get involved politically only in the budget fight.
(R) Or in others as well. any issue that was a controversial issue.
(H) I am talking about elections.
(R) Yeah, but we were involved in fighting for integration.
(H) Well that come later.
(R) And against what do you call half time school, against double sessions. We got a superintendent of schools from another town from the Northern Valley Regional, Been Poderefsky superintendent, they had had that experience. He was active too in TCPs for a while. So her superintendent came down and told a packed meeting at Teaneck High School auditorium, packed, what it was like. And so we went to the board with a whole big thing and they did not vote in double sessions.
(I) Now your research committee reached out into other towns?
(R) Yes, you had to get a comparison to compare similar towns.
(H) I will say this. I believe and again, it is time passed, that the research committee at a certain point when the integration fight came in, started to do some research into different things like the White Plains case and the different fights that went on in different towns.
(R) And also the different plans that they had. There was the Princeton Plan, there was another plan.
(H) Right. We got involved in that (END OF TAPE 1 - SIDE A - BEGIN SIDE B) So I guess when Anderson had left and Scribner came in, Scribner I guess at the instigation of the Board, had begun to address himself to the fact that the Bryant School each month, year, whatever it was was becoming more and more black and the possibility became that we would begin to get a mostly black school in the one particular section of town and there had been a lot of trouble right in our neighboring town of Englewood which, it actually was, I think it came to the riot stage in Englewood with integration, that a lot of people had resolved that we would at least address ourselves or tackle the situation before it got to the type of thing which, not that Teaneck was the same kind of town as Englewood because I recall only a few years before that a newsletter that came to us which talked about the racial makeup of Teaneck and I believe it probably was about 2% or 3% black. There probably were more others than there were black. It had gone suddenly very fast for whatever reason.