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Audio recording of the interview with Mildred Larson
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||November 27, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (12/1985)|
Tape is already in progress
(I) ... sort of the relationship between the Adjustment Committee and the Youth Guidance Council and the changes you've seen that it is hard to find people, the Adjustment Committee is really dedicated but
(N) I was just going to say that the Adjustment Committee I feel over the years people have been extremely dedicated and I haven't seen that diminish at all. The people that are on it as I think I've said once before, they stay on until either their job takes them away, something in their family takes them or they move away or something like that. They are so dedicated. And I can't say enough about them. It is a joy to work with those kind of people because there are very few people that like to work without publicity and these people work without publicity. Now the Teaneck Youth Guidance Council gets more publicity than we do. If people are looking for their name on a list, they get it but over the years, I have found that they don't function the way they used to. I feel that the Youth Guidance Council, they are not as dedicated. There are many times when there is not a quorum and so very little work gets finished.
(I) When did that begin to change?
(N) I don't know. Maybe about say ten years ago. I don't think the people that are on there now realize that they have a responsibility. I don't think it has been pointed out to them that they are a working group too because they should be functioning in certain things. They come to a meeting and express their opinion and they feel that ends it there. You know what I mean. It is not a thing where they carry through or they do a project. If it wasn't for the Adjustment Committee, there would not be a Youth Guidance Council because, they are the working group.
(I) And nothing would happen.
(N) Right. Exactly.
(I) Who is in a position to tell them ...
(N) I don't know. I don't know how that operates. They are appointed by Werner Schmid and by I think approved by the town council as such and Dr. Glanville, we had two great heads, Dr. Weitz was wonderful and everything I can say about the Youth Guidance Council, I go back to the people that originally started it because we are continuing on with the way it was and so you can tell they set a good foundation. We have made very few changes as far as the Adjustment Committee is concerned and so it proves that they did a good job. They had a good foundation and all we had to do is follow through on it. Dr. Weitz, there was a difference. Dr. Weitz today then had his office in town, OK, and he was very available if something happened, he was available. Dr. Weitz was one of the beginners of the Youth Guidance Council and he would go down to the state. He was extremely interested in it. And I guess his time was flexible enough to be able to do these things because he took a great more interest. Now we have Dr. Glanville in right now who I have a great deal of respect for and like him as a person and I feel he is a fine psychiatrist but he originally worked in New York, he worked at Bergen Pines, he also has an office, also works on the Board of Education, he is unavailable. Very busy man who doesn't have the time to put in it.
(I) This needed to be somebody's pet project kind of, their number one...
(N) And I think Dr. Weitz was that way. With Dr. weitz, it was a pet project. He knew it was worth while, he took a great deal of interest in it and I think it was his only pet project if you know what I mean. He did his psychology, he had private patients and whatnot, he did a lot around town and he was a man very different from Dr. Glanville. Dr. Glanville is very soft, very calm person where Dr. Weitz was, you know, up there fighting and sometimes you need that if you want to get something done.
(I) When did Dr. Weitz leave?
(N) Well he left, he was in it from the beginning and he left I think just after he was in it around twenty five years and you know, he moved out of town and that is why he left. That was the only reason. As a group we gave him a party and I remember we mentioned about a little over twenty five years.
(I) About how long ago was that?
(N) Well saying it was thirty seven years,
(I) OK, so twelve years ago. You know, I was just wondering, there was this stuff about a couple of weeks ago on Cedar Lane with the kids with the confrontation ... did that, any of that come to you?
(N) No, we haven't gotten any reports. That's a little bit what Bea because we are not going to have a meeting tonight for the simple reason that we have one person coming and there is no sense of bringing out all these people for one case and we haven't gotten court cases from the Police Department. We haven't gotten any so Bea was going to call today to find out if there were any cases that we both hadn't received. I haven't heard anything about that. For the police to come in, they had one other confrontation a while back and I questioned what happened. They were kids from other towns and so on and the answer that I got was, if the Police Department, they can break up a real fight, but if the Police Department went in there with only a few men, it would start a riot and so they are not prepared or not ready for this kind of a thing and so they have to stand back and try to control it as best they can and try to break it up but they can't go in wham, wham, wham, you know, and try to do something. A couple of times I know they'd make a couple of arrests and things like that but beyond that, they can't do much. That's the way it was explained to me and it made sense. They didn't want to turn it into a real riot.
(I) Let me just do one more thing. Give me a quick example of a case where you feel that the Adjustment Committee has really made a difference in a particular child's ...
(N) I can't give you one specific case because there are many. We sometimes feel as though we wonder just what we are doing, OK, and we've sat sometimes, if we don't have a particular case, we will sit and I will say, let's discuss some of these and we will talk about it and somebody will say they feel the way I do or why can't we do more and so on and so forth and then we say, well what have we done? What have we done? A kid doesn't come back, we don't see him on the list, we know something has been done. Right? And so you have many of those. You only have a few kids that are causing real problems and some of those home situations, homes mean an awful lot. I didn't tell you that in the beginning when they had this, I don't remember what they called it but they had some kind of a junior Advisory Committee because we know it because my son happened to be asked when he was at Thomas Jefferson and that lasted for a while and then I don't know what happened to it and they didn't have it anymore. However, we now have a Junior Advisory Committee and they have asked me to kind of chair it or what have you and so last year there were two representatives from Ben Franklin, two from Thomas Jefferson and two from the high school. Now this year, because there are four grades at the high school, we have two from ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth and we met yesterday afternoon and that was our second meeting this year and they are the most delightful young people you ever want to know. I come home and I am bubbling over because they are just great kids. And you know one kid said yesterday that I am not going to take drugs and I am not going to take liquor because I don't want anything to happen to my brain or my body and he said I know it is all around me. I know it is here. And he said, but I am not going to. And he said, my parents know it and I told them not to worry about me because I am not going to get involved in it. And you know kids realize this but kids are now saying, why aren't the schools and the community doing more about this? When they know it is there. One kid said yesterday, we know it is in the high school, it is very available. OK. We know there are going to be some kids that are always going to be bad and there is nothing much ... but they are involving a lot of good kids too and why can't that be stopped because of the availability. Another little girl said, there is a lot of peer pressure and we know that. We know that.
(I) Is there a curriculum in the school to try to educate kids?
(N) Yesterday it was brought up, we thought about sex. Now one of the little girls made mention of the fact that her mother has come to her and told her if she wants to ask any questions she should but she said, I don't feel good about going to my mother and then somebody said something about in the school and they said, well, parents would object to that and I said right. You should be getting it at home. But they'd rather come to someone that, as she said, that was away from everything. Somebody to talk to. And the same thing with the drugs and with alcohol. They don't even like to go to their own guidance teacher because it's somebody in school, afraid that someone else will know about it. And it was cute, I asked them, would you like someone then to speak to you like an old lady like me, a grandmother, or somebody a little bit younger, someone around your parents age or someone a peer of yours or someone just a little older than you are and the one girl said, I wouldn't care what age the person was if they were sympathetic and understanding of the questions I had to ask. Now one boy said, I wouldn't want someone of my mother's age because I think there would be too much preaching.
(HUSBAND) That's pretty mature thinking, you know.
(I) So this new Youth Advisory Committee really helps
(N) Well we are trying to see if we can't find other ways of doing things or better ways or finding out whether we should do more about homes. We know that that's a big problem. What are some of the kids? Yesterday they brought up this one boy that has seemed to be picked on all the way through school and everything but they claim that he brings it on a little bit himself. They recognize that and yet one of the boys seemed to say that he is kind of talking to him. Now he hasn't been on a Junior Advisory Board and he is talking to him and I said, you keep talking to him and do that sort of thing. These kind of things do help. And these young people didn't know there was such a thing as a Youth Guidance ... now they also brought up something yesterday which I think I told you before was whether we should publicize more. And they thought we should. They said that they thought it would be an advantage to publicize more. And that's their view. And maybe it is right and maybe it is wrong, I don't know.
(I) They probably feel good about having a voice
(N) Yeah. I asked them because of December and because of Chanukah and Christmas maybe they would like to not have a meeting. Well why can't we have a meeting on the second Tuesday? And I was shocked, you know. They want to meet and so I said, OK, we'll have it the second Tuesday. So they must be interested. And last year they were. As a matter of fact, I got a letter from one of the little girls that had been on and she was a senior and graduated and she said she enjoyed it so much that if ever we needed a volunteer or anything to do any work, she would be very happy to do it and the kids all expressed the feeling that they thought it was worthwhile and some of them wished they could go on further. Before you got representation from each school it was terrible last year so I asked them this year for the Youth Guidance Council to send a letter in the summer but Jim Delaney is on our council and we meet and so Jim Delaney was responsible for all four this year so it was much easier and we could get an earlier start. Last year, Ben Franklin held up, Ben Franklin of all the schools, has been the least cooperative all through the years.
(I) What do you think?
(N) I don't understand it. I don't know what the answer is.
(I) Ben Franklin. That's the one that's right over ...
(N) Thomas Jefferson will open up and so you hear sometimes that Thomas Jefferson has, this should be off the record all right, but that Thomas Jefferson has a lot of more problems than Ben Franklin, I think Thomas Jefferson is a little more open about their problems and willing to let it be known if you know what I mean and try to do something about it. Ben Franklin I don't say doesn't try to do something about it but they have as many problems and it is funny when these kids get to the high school, we have more problems from Ben Franklin than we do from Thomas Jefferson.
(I) But maybe they are a little more concerned about their image and they don't want to ...
(N) I think so.
(I) That's interesting.
(HUSBAND) It was true with the principal that was there years ago.
(N) Well not only that but I think that is prevalent in any school system in any town. Every principal will tell you that you're the best school in town and Lowell School used to tell us we were the best and Whittier School thought they were the best and in each instance, they did have like Lowell School was better in math I think and English and Whittier was better in I've forgotten what they were now, two things, but that was true because of the teachers, right, and that was the only thing but each principal likes to feel or likes to show that they don't have any problems.
(I) So it sounds like you've had many years of contributing and there is a good long future to look forward to with this since this work is more important than ever.
(N) It certainly is. However, as I told you yesterday and I just got the call from Bea the night before, she had called me to tell me that she was going to resign after twenty five years and the Youth Guidance Council will miss her tremendously and we will miss her tremendously.
(I) Who are you, what are you ...
(N) I don't know. Do you want the job? I mean they are going to look for somebody for a new job and it is a job. That is the only paying position there is in Teaneck and it does mean you have to take shorthand and take notes. I don't think you have to take shorthand but you do have to take notes. And it doesn't involve that much but Bea has been in it for so long and she knows and she is a very fine person. I love Bea Levine. She is lovely. She is older now, let's say and her husband has had his leg amputated from diabetes and she has a lot of problems like that and I think her family is pressuring her to stop.
(I) Well it is probably a demanding ...
(N) Exactly. Well it means coming out at night when you've done a whole day's job at the high school and don't get home until like after four o'clock and then you have to come back at 7:30.
(I) So this will be a change if she has been such a long standing ...
(N) Oh yes. Anybody capable I am sure, she said to me, do you want the job and I said, no. And I am sure that, have you got anybody to suggest and I really don't have anybody to suggest but I am sure it will be open because it is a town job. You are hired by the town to do this.
(I) How much time is it?
(N) It is three Wednesdays a month.
(I) Well I will keep my eyes opened if I see anyone. Plus then some other ...
(N) You have to send out the letters and you have to send the cards out for the meeting and that sort of thing.
(HUSBAND) Just in passing Hilde, getting back to Mayor Burr, he headed up years ago a panel called COMMUNITY RELATIONS and they took up ... and he was adamant about the idea of publicity. He wanted it absolutely kept quiet. They solved their problems, met with people and it was all without publicity.
(I) Well I can understand that. It is a difficult line to walk because you want people, if people need to know about you, you want them to be able to find out but ...
(N) Well I am going to say, I don't know who the other interviewers were but you are a wonderful interviewer.
(I) Well, thank you very...
(END OF TAPE)