|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.|
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||May 30, 1985|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (12/1985)|
This is Ann McGrath. I am interviewing Ruth Landrine for the Oral History Project at the Teaneck Library. It is MAY 30, 1985 and we are at her home in Teaneck.
(I) Mrs. Landrine, how long have you lived in the town?
(N) Well, you wanted to start off by saying it this way. Tell me something about the house.
(I) Yes, do tell me the history of the house.
(N) My father had this house built in 1902 when he and my mother were married and they moved in here. At that time, it was, it is 150 x 100 and the 150 feet is on what is now called Gifford Place and the 100 feet is on DeGraw Avenue and it was built in an apple orchard. There were nine apple trees. There were all orchards around here. And my father bought this piece of land from my mother's aunt, Rachel DeGraw, and their holding of land was from Overpeck Creek almost to the West Shore Railroad and my father's, I might be jumping back and forth here, my father's name was George V. Demarest, George Vreeland Demarest and my mother's name was Rachel DeGraw (inaudible - Law or Moore). And my mother wanted this particular piece of land because then she could be right near her aunt whom she was named after, Rachel DeGraw. And that's the reason my father had the house built in this particular spot rather than up by the Demarest holding of land which, of course, was also a big holding of land. From Ridgefield Park there were five big farms, there were the Westervelts, the DeGraws, the Demarests, the Parkers, the Terhunes and they went right up to what is now Holy Name Hospital on Cedar Lane but there were these five big farms and
(I) What did they grow. Were they all orchards?
(N) No, they grew corn, tomatoes, cabbage and strawberries and then they marketed them in Jersey City and also in New York City where they took them by horse and wagon and then by whatever kind of boat across the Hudson.
(I) You mean the ferry?
(N) No, they didn't have ferries then. I think they called them sloops. But they didn't take the wagons over, they just took the produce there and transported them over. I am talking about real early. The DeGraws, the land was just beautiful. I can remember as a girl there were, the house itself was a 20 room mansion and that was right opposite this house here.
(I) On the other side of DeGraw.
(N) And then there were vineyards and peach orchards, pear orchards and apple trees. Up on just a little below what is now Morningside Terrace, there was a huge cement reservoir and water was pumped up into that reservoir from way below what is now Willow street. There was a spring. And this water over in Aunt Rachel's across the street from this present home of ours there was a windmill and on windy days, they'd turn it on, no electricity of course, this all ran by mechanical, and that would pump the water from this spring up into this reservoir. Now this wasn't used for drinking water. This ran by gravity down and it was for the cattle because they had oxen and horses and pigs and cows there and chickens.
(I) They would use the oxen for plowing would they?
(N) Yes. We have some pictures of the oxen that they had. And the pipe that ran from willow street up to the cement reservoir, concrete reservoir, goes through our outside cellar. It is still there the pipe that would go up and carry the water up there. Now for their drinking water, they had a well and then of course they had a cistern there that caught the water for washing. That's talking about Aunt Rachel's and Uncle Will's home across the street. This was before the turn of the century. But this house, of course, was built in 1902 and my brother was born in 1903 and I was born in 1905. There were just the two of us. And my father was an accountant for a firm in New York, Bogert & Hopper, they were a wood turning business.
(I) Now how would he get into New York?
(N) He would get in by either the West Shore Railroad; he'd walk over there or he'd, or the Hudson River Trolley ran right in front of our house. It ran from Edgewater to Paterson.
(I) Let me stop you for one minute. I want to make sure we are getting ...
(N) By the West Shore Railroad or the Northern I think they called it, the Erie over in Leonia or he would go by trolley and then by ferry and so forth.
(I) Now how did he meet your mother, do you know? Two famous families.
(N) Well my mother was from the Moore family and they were, they had settled over in Leonia which was called English Neighborhood. Did you ever hear it called English Neighborhood? And do you want to know the history of the Moores?
(I) A little bit, sure.
(N) Well the Moores, I think it was four or five generations, I just don't remember, but at the time of the Revolution, this Samuel Moore was sent over to England, from England as a minister, not of divinity, but a minister of political minister.
(I) Like a government job.
(N) And he was, he settled in New York and (New York City) and when, after he understood the colonists, he sided with them instead of with England so at the time of the Revolution, when he was captured and because of his political leanings, he was thrown in with the other captives in the shewer houses. You've heard of the shewer houses in New York City where they starved them to death? Oh, you've never heard of those?
(I) Where were they located?
(N) I don't know just where, where the wharfs were. But they were huge shewer houses and the political prisoners or any prisoners of the colonists were thrown into these sugar (shewer)? houses and they were starved to death and then to cover up their crimes, they put lime in to-eat up their remains and these people are now buried in Trinity Church Yard in a common grave.
(I) Well he obviously got out.
(N) No, he didn't.
(I) Oh, this was after his family was established. That's how he died.
(N) But he had a family and of course they didn't do anything to his family or his children because they were small and that's how the lineage was carried on. And then they came to Leonia and my mother's father was one of eleven children and so, and one of the children, my mother's father's name was Daniel Moore and his sister was Rachel Moore and she married the DeGraw and that's the Rachel DeGraw that my mother is named after and so my mother spent a lot of time with her aunt.
(I) Now her aunt lived in the big mansion?
(N) In the big mansion. But I forgot to say that my mother's father and his wife, my grandmother, they settled in Brooklyn. That's where my mother was born, in Brooklyn. But she spent a great deal of time up with Aunt Rachel. So that's how she got to know my father but not in a romantic way because my mother was engaged to a man by the name of Archie Wallace and he must have been a delightful person from the stories that my mom has told me and pictures that I've seen of him. He was a banker. And they were engaged to be married. He was always flooding her with gifts and then he wasn't feeling well and Ma said, I think you should go see a doctor and find out just what is wrong so he did and when he came back, he said, see my mother's name was Rachel but everyone called her Ratie and he said, Ratie, I have very bad news to tell you. He said, and I think the best thing is to start right this way and say we are not going to be married. He said I have a disease that there is no cure for. I have diabetes. And at that time, there was no cure for diabetes. And he said I don't want to burden you with as a widow or possibly with children so he said, we are just not going to be married. We are going to go along as we are now and we are not going to be married. And in a very short time, he was dead. And my mother of course oh she was heartbroken and my father was in his 30s and he always evidently had his eye on my mother but he waited a very reasonable time before he started courting her so that's how my mother and father met.
(I) Now where did he live as a Demarest?
(N) The Demarests home is the Demarest/Brinkerhoff home up on Teaneck Road, the one that they're, it has been sold now and they're redoing the whole place but that was his grandfather's home, George C. Demarest (believe spelling of first name was Jorge - she is not sure) it is a French name but they intermarried with the Dutch so they gave them the spelling was Dutch but it was a French name, Demarest and when my grandfather and grandmother were married, well let me go back to this, Grandpa Demarest, James Brinkerhoff Demarest, was in the cavalry in the Civil War. I have his picture inside, a hand painted picture of him. And when Grandpa Demarest and Grandma Demarest were married, she was a Vreeland from Edgewater and when they were married, they built a house across the street and up on the hill from the Demarest/Brinkerhoff house. Copley Avenue wasn't there. That was just a lane. That was all part of the Demarest property. The Demarest property ran from the Overpeck Creek almost to the West Shore Railroad up there and their house, Grandpa Demarest's house was built up there.
(I) Is it still there?
(N) No, in about 1918 or 1919, my grandfather, I've forgotten what year he died. I was six years old. I am not good at arithmetic. What year would that have been?
(I) About 1911.
(N) Well when Grandpa Demarest died, then he divided his land between his five children and then after they rented, they leased it out as farm land and then they wanted to, a family by the name of Copley came over from New York and they wanted to buy a tract of the land so they decided, well let's sell it to them. Well the house was up on the hill and the Copleys lived in that house when they bought the land but then they wanted to put a street through and they wanted to build a new home so they moved that house way up on Copley Avenue. It is still there. But they moved the house up there. And the
(I) Is that the big white house that has the yard around it?
(N) No. It is up quite a ways on Copley Avenue. I would, I just don't know the number of it but it is up, they moved it up quite far.
(I) Do you remember that when they moved the house?
(I) Did they do it with horses and carts and ...
(N) They did it with, now I don't know if they used horses. I imagine they used horses. I am not sure. But I do remember how they put it on to those logs you know and moved it that way. Terrible job. But then Papa, years before, had moved down because he lived in the old house because they had rented out the house to other parties before, I guess it was after Grandpa Demarest died that Grandma Demarest moved down into the old house and Papa moved down there and he had three sisters and a brother. There were five of them. There is so much to tell you but ..
(I) I know. It is wonderful. So you were born in this house.
(N) I was born in this house. And
(I) What happened to your brother, where is he?
(N) My brother lives up in Wyckoff now and he graduated from Hackensack High and after he graduated, he got a job with the telephone company and he kept advancing and advancing and at the time of World War II, he, they didn't have any children, he and his wife didn't have any children, and he knew that they were calling men in that didn't have children so he decided he would enlist and he enlisted in the Signal Corps and he was over thirty then and, or close to thirty, and he, they assured him that he was to teach and they sent him out to Idaho but after he got out to Idaho, he called and had his wife come out because he was going overseas and he went to the African campaign. He went in as a second lieutenant and he kept advancing and now he is a major. Don't quote me on that. I don't know if he is a captain or a major. But of course he went back into the telephone company after and he lives up in Wyckoff now.
(I) Now you were both educated in Teaneck and in Hackensack? What schools, were you in this little one room schoolhouse?
(N) Yes, we were both, no, no. My brother went down there just, they had built the school over on Oakdene Avenue and Mama said that Dan went down there just in September and they marched up to the school, the eight grades. Brand new school. And they didn't have any kindergarten then. They just went into the first grade up until the eighth. When I want to school, then they had started the kindergarten but I went over to Oakdene Avenue School and Dan went two years or three years I guess it was to, we had our choice, either you could go to Leonia High School or Hackensack High and Dan went to Leonia. I think he went three years. But he wasn't happy over there so he changed to Hackensack and I had gone to Hackensack and I graduated from Hackensack. And then when I graduated from Hackensack High School, I worked for a while as a secretary and I hated it. I worked for a very, very good firm. Morrison, Lloyd and Morrison. Frank Lloyd was a judge in Westwood and the Morrisons were delightful people. But I didn't like working in the office so I resigned and I went in training over in Hackensack Hospital and I graduated from Hackensack School of Nursing which is no more. They phased out the School of Nursing it must have been twenty years ago and now of course Hackensack Hospital is a huge institution.
(I) And you must have worked there, didn't you?
(N) Yes, I worked, I was private duty nursing.
(I) Was Holy Name Hospital built at that time?
(N) Holy Name Hospital was, yes it was just being built. It was just, it had been built and they were just, it was still a young hospital you might say. But I preferred Hackensack.
(I) What was the attitude towards Holy Name? Was it welcomed into the community? People happy to have it here?
(N) I guess they were. I really couldn't say because I left and I went just around that time and I went to Hackensack and then for a while of course my husband and I, I don't know if you are interested in this part because I didn't live here for those years, for thirty years, but I was here practically every day. This was my home..
(I) Where did you! live in the interim?
(N) Maywood. And then my father was stricken, he was 95 years old and he was stricken in June I guess it was and he, we thought my father would live to be 100. There is a picture of him there with our oldest daughter. And he would have lived to be 100 I know if not more. He had all his facilities. He was so strong. But he was working in the garden, he loved his flowers, and he had gladiola bulbs and he was, there is a material you put them into to kill the (thrip) I think it is called - it is a little mite - and I know we were over here, when I say we, my husband and I were over here on a Saturday afternoon and he became violently ill. Oh, he was vomiting and he called and he was down the cellar working and we went down and got him and brought him up and he was so gray. We called our family doctor and it was a Saturday so he was off somewhere and they sent someone in his place and he never investigated as to what was wrong with him. He just gave him an injection and that was Saturday afternoon about 3 o'clock and he never woke up until Sunday night. We stayed over here with him. And first thing Monday morning, we had our family doctor over and he couldn't find anything wrong with him but he was still so weak. And my father, I said to him Papa, down on your tool chest you have some gladiola bulbs in a basin in a solution. He said, Ruth, don't touch it. It is deadly poison. He said just take a hold of it and take it outside and pour it all and don't touch them until they are dry. He said I put them in there to kill. . and that was it. Evidenta11y he got some of the fumes or something and when I called the doctor and told him about it, I said now I have a specimen of urine but I said, this happened Saturday. By the time I discovered this, it was Wednesday and I said I doubt whether it will show anything. He said well bring it over anyhow and we will test it and of course it didn't show anything but from this violent vomiting he broke a blood vessel in his head and that's what he died from. He only lived about three weeks. So that was in 1963 and then in 1965 my mother had severe stroke and she only lived five days. She was 91. And at that time of course before that Bunny and my mother took care of themselves although we were back and forth all the time after my father died but when Mama was stricken, we moved over here immediately when Bunny called and said that Mama couldn't talk. And I never lived in my own home again after that. And I just couldn't see anyone else living in this family home. I just couldn't see anyone. Because everything is just, I never modernized as you see. I don't believe in modernization. If it were modernized, it would look like a kitchen in any other house along the street or a house in Bogota or Dumont or Hackensack. But this house looks just like ...
(I) What was it like growing up here. What was your recreation as children. Were there a lot of children around?
(N) No, I had my brother and there were more boys around than there were girls so I learned to play with the boys and
(I) What would you play?
(N) The usual things that kids play. Hide and seek, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians. And we always had a dog and I loved to go, I did things that my brother liked to do so I went trapping down in the meadows after muskrats and
(I) What would they do with the muskrats?
(N) They would skin them out and sell the fur. And most of the time in the winter I would just take my dog Pixie down in the meadows and roam around and in the summer I was in the fields and I was always interested in how did things grow and how did bugs do what they did and I was always interested in sitting there for hours just watching.
(I) Did the community have any, were there any gatherings in the community or entertainment?
(N) My mother was a great person for organizing and she had clubs all the time. My mother bowled, she belonged to a couple of bowling clubs and she bowled over in Hackensack and Little Ferry and she
(I) Do you remember any of the names of the clubs she belonged to?
(N) I don't know what they called the bowling club. She would have it on some of her papers. But I know she bowled over in the Junior Order. I don't think they are in existence any more on Gamel Street. And then there was another bowling alley in Bogota on River Road opposite where Getty Oil is now and, but most of her bowling was in the Junior Order and ...
(I) What other clubs did she have?
(N) She had a literary club and the women in the neighborhood. Of course there weren't many houses here at all. Of course there was this house and later on, the house next door was built
(I) Who lived next door, do you remember?
(N) The party that lived there was a man by the name of Hilder. He built houses around. And he lived up next to, I think when he first came to Teaneck, he lived up on Fort Lee Road. And then he bought a piece of land next to my grandfather's house up on, it is two houses south of the Brinkerhoff/Demarest house. He built a house there. And when he'd build a house, he'd move into it. So he built this house on the corner here and he moved into that but and his daughter was one month younger than me and when she was twelve years old, I think, ten or twelve years old, well now of course they know it was cancer but they didn't know what she had and she died from of the pancreas and her mother was so heartbroken that she couldn't even look, our names were Ruth, her name was Ruth, and she couldn't even look at me. So they moved over to Leonia from here and we didn't see much of them because she didn't want to see me. I reminded her of her daughter that she lost.