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: William Lindsay
INTERVIEWER: Anne McGrath
DATE OF INTERVIEW:    March 26, 1984
TRANSCRIBER: Jackie Kinney (9/30/1984)

Previous Page

(I) And was it very different than your equipment now?

(N) Oh yes. The equipment we had years ago when I first started, the sat on the right hand side of the truck to drive like you were in England. We have more up-to-date equipment, easier trucks to operate and to, quicker procedures to get the draft water and stuff like that. And then you got different type of masks. The masks that we had, we had two types of masks. One that was them Chem-Ox, a little square box that was only good for a half hour; we had another one that used to take you a couple of minutes. You used to have to draw the lungs, pump air into their lungs before you get in. Now we have there Scott Packs that we just throw them on and they are all set. We just turn the valve and you put them on there and you put the face piece on properly and you go in the fire.

(I) Well when you say you worked twenty-four hours, what kind of home life did that allow? Twenty-four hours on and

(N) Well you was on, you were here twenty-four hours and off twenty-four hours. And every eight days, you were off a day, you were off three days in a row.

(I) Were you unionized or did you have what kind of a Union?

(N) No. There was no union.

(I) What kind of a union do you have now?

(N) Now we have two of them. We have the Fire Officers have a Union, which is, they don’t belong to any real basic union, it is just a group that they have themselves. They represent them in negotiations and you got the FMBA which is, represents the Firefighters and they, that’s a state affiliated organization.

(I) Do you have a good voice for making decisions for the force here?

(N) Do I what?

(I) Do you have a good voice; do the firefighters have a good voice?

(N) Not really. My job is to work with the Chief and take care of the alarm system and operating the desk, that’s all I do. Firefighting procedures that stuff is up to the deputies and stuff like that.

(I) Do you have rank now?

(N) I am a Superintendent of Fire Alarms.

(I) You became that after three years as a Firefighter?

(N) No, I was a Fireman for three years and then I was a Repairman for three years and then I became Superintendent of Fire Alarms.

(I) So you were in the force six years before you got the job you have now?

(N) Right. No. Actually I left the force after three years. I came into the Fire Alarm Bureau and I was a Fire Alarm Repairman for three years and then the superintendent retired and I took over as the superintendent.

(I) Was that a big decision to become a Firefighter and leave Bendix for you?

(N) Not really. I looked at the job, the retirement benefits that you have, the security part like I said, you know, working at Bendix, you cut out on overtime you didn’t know if you were going to get laid off and, in fact, the last year that I worked for Bendix, I bumped four fellows because every time I went from one department to another department, I got laid off but I bumped somebody (End of Side 1 – Begin Side 2)

(I) Can you compare Teaneck with other towns as, can you compare Teaneck’s Fire Department with other towns fire departments.

(N) Well the only comparison we got in Bergen County, there is only five paid departments. The other towns have volunteers. I would say we’re on up to up and equal with Hackensack, Ridgewood in the pay department. Englewood right now is having troubles. They have a smaller department than we have and they’re now, they are in the same position we were at times. We had to depend on each other for help if we have a bad fire. Edgewater is getting to a town where they are only having paid drivers. They’re going down slowly. They lost all their industry down there so their fire department is going down and Cliffside Park only has drivers now. Bergenfield only has drivers. And the rest are all volunteers.

(I) Is this a dangerous situation?

(N) Yes and no. It costs you a lot of money to have a fire department and you got volunteers, you’re great. If you got the people in there with the right ages and they got the jobs and they work in the communities and they can take the time off. But there were times you find a lot of these volunteer towns, they have problems. At night, after 5 O’clock they got plenty of men. During the daytime, they don’t have that many men and you find some people that don’t have that many men and you find some people that don’t have their employees take off so the advantage of having a fire when, or the disadvantage of having a fire when you have a fire, the first five minutes of that fire is the important time. You either can save the building or you can’t save the building and so the speediest response and get there with equipment and manpower is what you need to have a fire department.

(I) So is Teaneck called out very often by these towns?

(N) Well, just like right now, they are over in Englewood. Englewood has a fire; we have one truck over there assigned to cover the town over there in case there’s another fire, than we have to call men back.

(I) How many fires do you have a day in Teaneck? How do you figure your

(N) Well, it varies. Last year, we had a total of 466 box alarms; we had roughly 1,900 fires last year. You know it runs. It varies. We go out on water leaks, we go out emergency calls, blackouts and everything else like that and we are a paid department, we are here to service the community.

(I) Do you think Teaneck needs a paid department?

(N) Yes. Every town needs a paid department. Like I say, we started years ago. It isn’t like starting today. It costs an arm and a leg to start a department and stuff like that. You get a lot of these towns, the town owns the building, but the equipment is owned by the volunteers. They go out and they collect the money from the town to buy equipment.

(I) What advantages can you see in your fire department if the men did have more voice in making decisions?

(N) Well I think they all have a voice in making decisions. They sit down and talk it over with the Chief and different things like that and their union representatives today go in but I mean the Chief makes the main decisions.

(I) But he talks to the men also?

(N) He talks to the officers and he talks to the men.

(I) Is there a regular meeting?

(N) Yes, they have regular meetings.

(I) What are the most dangerous aspects of being a Firefighter?

(N) Well, if you do your job right, it really isn’t dangerous but the problem of today is the contents of what’s is in these buildings. We have in-service inspections so we sort of keep up on what we have in these buildings. I mean you read it over in New York all the time, you read down Newark, they go in here they have all types of chemicals in the buildings and stuff like that. That’s what is the dangerous to the job. You don’t know what’s, what you’re fighting. But normally if you go out to a regular house fire, the people are out of the building and they give you the proper information, the job isn’t that dangerous but when you get there and you get the wrong information, then you have to send somebody in there and they say people are in the building and you get in there and there’s nobody in there, you have men in there searching for people which could have a back draft, you could have an explosion in the apartment and people could get hurt like that.

(I) Could you describe your job now?

(N) Well my job is Superintendent of Fire Alarms. I am responsible for all the street boxed that have the Township of Teaneck.

(I) How many is that?

(N) We have 241 boxes total; we have 103 street boxes, we have 30 school boxed and we have 108 boxes that are connected to public buildings and they all come into this office out here which is the Nerve Center and they are retransmitted out to the outhouses. We have an automatic system and all four houses receive at once. I am also responsible for the telephone system. We have our own telephone system in here in town, which connects the lines to the four outhouses, the police station and to any offices here, the Clerk’s Office, the Deputy’s Office, the Captain’s Office, my office here and Headquarters. Outside I have cable outside. I have twenty-four miles of open wire and I got two and a half miles on the ground and I got ten miles of figure eight cable that I’m responsible for. And I’m also got all the communication lines for the radio systems, which we have a tower here that takes care of the DPW, the Police Department and the Fire Department. We have another system, a backup system, which is under Holy Name Hospital. That is also for the frequencies that we have in town here.

(I) Do you need any more equipment?

(N) Oh I need a lot of more equipment if I could get it but.

(I) What do you need?

(N) They could put a computer in and make it much easier for the dispatching of firemen and it costs a lot of money and like I say, being a paid department here you can get these things but you can put a computerized system in, we can cut down on a lot of paperwork, the general orders can be all printed out. The officers in the outhouses just have to rip it off but for some reason, Teaneck is way behind the times to get these.

(I) Does Hackensack have a computer?

(N) No, they don’t. The only one that just went in, in fact I feel very bad about it, we were the first department here in Bergen County and in fact         I transistorized this whole out here and we all went to transistorized systems.  I put a computer in on the desk area there. The boxes come in and print out for the boxes. I was supposed to expand it but what happened when we lost all our money down here in Glenpointe, they cut back on the fire department. We were the first one to get cut back on. And we never went ahead with it.

(I) When you say they lost all their money at Glenpointe, what do you mean?

(N) Well, when they sold them homes down there and they had trouble with Hartz Mountain, they gave that money back, they had to make up the money someplace and that’s why.

(I) The council, you mean?

(N) The council did and that’s what happened.

(I) What kind of communication exists between the fire department and the council and the?

(N) Very poor and number one, you know, we have a city form of management here in Teaneck.

(I) Do you have good communication with him?

(N) The City Manager, he’s the boss. We have no problems with seeing him if you do things right. We are not in politics here in town really. The Council has nothing to say to the township employees. Werner Schmidt is the boss; he hires and fires and does whatever he wants. He reports to the Council but the township employees are strictly with the Township Manager.

(I) You don’t deal with the Council at all? Even your Fire Chief would not deal?

(N) It goes strictly to the City Manager.

(I) And you said the communication is poor. What did you mean by that?

(N) Well.

(I) How would you like it to be?

(N) Well, right now I don’t have no problems with it but people in the fire department, the Firemen, I realize that they have problems. Our contracts are not getting signed here but then you know they hire an outside negotiations, they have a lawyer, they go to the lawyer so you                  only a little block getting down

(I) So you are talking mainly about your contracts. What about your equipment? Do you have any trouble with that?

(N) Well the equipment, that goes through the Chief. The Chief has to present it to the Purchasing Agent, the Purchasing Agent he accepts it or rejects it or he goes to the Council with it. Whatever you put in your budget, if it is reasonable, I think you’d get it. He’s not bad, you know.

(I) Is there any piece of equipment that you really need now besides you’d like a computer. Anything else?

(N) Yes. I’d like to update our switchboard downstairs and stuff like that.

(I) How old is the switchboard?

(N) Our switchboard down there is about twenty years old. I got stuff in here that my father moved from the other building over to here.

(I) When would that be?

(N) That was back in 1947.

(I) How do you compare living in Teaneck today, right now, with living in Teaneck when you were say five years old?

(N) Well, number one, I think you have a different class of people. You had more family class of people years ago. You knew quite a few people. I think that Teaneck has always been a bedroom community anyway from New York to Metropolitan area where they work. You have more so today. You have people that are just come home from work and they get in the car and they take off for a weekend and that’s it. I remember, like I said, years ago working for the American Legion, different types of paper that you used to pick up. I used to pick up paper once a month. You used to find more New York papers than you did Bergen County papers. That was a change. I think that today you got more different types of groups, people in Teaneck, and they are more Clannish and stick together, not like they did before.

(I) Are there any other comparisons you can make? How do you think the children’s lives have changes?

(N) Well, you know the kids today; they are a lot different that they were years ago. They are going to school earlier. They are getting more mixed group of children playing together than you did years ago and I think it is benefiting the children since getting older and growing up and when they get in adult life, it will be a lot different than it was a kid growing up today.

(I) What organizations have you been involved in since you came back from Korea?

(N) Well I belong to the American Legion. I was belonged to the Kiwanis Club; I belong to the Teaneck City Club. I belonged to the International Municipality     Association.

(I) Can you say that again for us?

(N) International Municipality (Sickmans) Association.

(I) What is that?

(N) That’s the (Sickmans) Association, part of the Superintendent of the Fire Alarms of the State of New Jersey, parts of Pennsylvania and Susquehanna River. This association that I belong to.

(I) And what does that involve?

(N) Well we have meetings three times a month. Public safety.

(I) Three times a month?

(N) I mean every three months. Public safety. It actually deals with public safety.

(I) Tell me about the American Legion and your work with, when you started to and what you do?

(N) Well I did quite a little bit of everything. I was, I joined the American Legion thirty years ago. I was Post Commander twice in Teaneck.

(I) Do you remember what years?

(N) 1960 and 1980.

(I) And each time for how long?

(N) For a year. I was County Commander back in 1964 I was County Commander. I served in Bergen County Organization, represented the Department of New Jersey for twelve years as Department Executive Committeeman.

(I) What kind of work do you do in the American Legion?

(N) Well right now I am on the National Legislative Committee. I deal with the Congressmen, Bob Toricellis’ representative in the 9th district. I go to the national conventions. I am on resolution committees and stuff to get some procedures for the Congressmen and the Senate to act upon.

(I) What issues are you working on now?

(N) Right now I am not working on anything but.

(I) Past issues?

(N) Well we were on our third nursing home up here in Bergen County. We were fighting for that one. We were on for backing up the President on his defense budget and stuff like that.

(I) What social activities do you have for the American Legion?

(N) Really nothing. We just have dances and we have one, it’s a memorial fund. We give four nursing scholarships a year. We have a big dance in December on that. We have Tie-in Night, we have Corned Beef Night and we have Nights at the Races and stuff like that.

(I) And can you tell me something about the building here, the American Legion Building?

(N) Yes. I built that in 1970. I took eight weeks off from this job here and I was the sub-contractor of that building.

(I) How long did it take and who worked with you?

(N) Mostly after we had the four walls put up by a contractor, we finished up the insides. It took us about a month and a half to finish off the inside.

(I) Who was the contractor?

(N) I don’t remember. Salvatore something in Cliffside Park.

(I) Okay. And tell me who the men were who helped you?

(N) Oh I had Joe Mulqueen, Arthur Ridley, he’s dead now. Al Kuhn.

(I) Do you remember anymore?

(N) Oh yeah.  There was a lot more. Bobby Brown, Eddie McDonald, Gary Gunner.

(I) And what? You would work on it all day. Tell me how you worked on it?

(N) Well we got down there about seven o’clock in the morning. There was another fellow and I, Al Kuhn and I were there all the time together. Then we had fellows who were salesmen and used to come in in the afternoon, some of them came in and helped. At night we used to get there and we used to clean up. I wouldn’t pick up a board if I dropped a nail or something like that; I left it on the floor. They would come down there after they came from work at night after supper, they would clean the whole place up so it was nice and clean and everything. Al and I came back the next morning and messed it up. And then they were there on weekends. Like one night, we laid the whole floor down in the building in the one night.

(I) How many rooms?

(N) We have a bar area, two offices, one for the Ladies Auxiliary and one for the men, the kitchen and two bathrooms and a foyer and the bar.

(I) And you built all of that then?

(N) We built all of that.

(I) Where did you get your equipment? Your lumber and your supplies?

(N) Well the lumber we got from Palisades Lumber Company, we bought it from there. They bought it in and we had a tile man that came in who worked for the Bogota American Legion, Tom Smith. He was a legionnaire. He was a tile setter. He came in. He got us the tile and he put the tile down.

(I) Who designed the building?

(N) Myself.

(I) Did you make drawings?

(N) No. I designed the building the way I wanted it and off different plans that I had and then I took it to Jim Kennedy and he drew up the plans for us.

(I) Is there anything else you can tell me about the American Legion in Teaneck?

(N) Well I am going to retire in August but up to July, I am the Chairman of the Central Leave Committee and that’s a program we have about $250,000 in. It is made up of four men, pardon me, five men and four ladies from the Ladies Auxiliary and we help needy veterans and their families in Bergen County. This money is raised from $0.25 of the legion membership, which is over $8,000. We collect from each of those $0.25 per members and that’s how we have this money. We invest some money in stuff like that.

(I) Does it cost money to be a member?

(N) No. It only costs you dues. I don’t pay no dues because I am a life member. But dues is $14. That’s all it actually costs you.

(I) And what does that enable you to do?

(N) That enables you use of the clubhouse and you attend meetings and you get the Legion Magazine. From there on out, whatever you want to spend, whatever you do, it is on yourself.

(I) How busy is the clubhouse. How many people are there every night and what about the weekends?

(N) Well we operate a legion function that’s all. We are open every Thursday night. That’s our meeting night for the men and the ladies. We are open Friday nights and Saturday nights is when we have affairs and we have an affair once a month. That’s the only time that we are open.

(I) Who runs it when you are open? Who bartends?

(N) Various volunteers are the bartenders. Our Commander is the boss of the club.

(I) I was asking you about other organizations that you belonged to. Kiwanis. When did you join Kiwanis?

(N) Oh, I guess back in the 70s I joined the Kiwanis. In about 1978 I guess I was President of Kiwanis.

(I) Do you remember and of the people, who was President when you joined?

(N) Hal Braun was the President.

(I) And what do you do as a member of Kiwanis?

(N) Let’s see, in 78 I was President. Well Kiwanis is an international organization. We are interested in community affairs. We participate in community scholarship in Teaneck here. Actually, it’s a friendship; it’s a business club. We have guest speakers every month.

(I) You meet once a month?

(N) No, we meet once a week. We meeting in Deleers on Queen Anne Road.

(I) And how large a group is it?

(N) Twenty-one.

(I) And what about the Teaneck City Club?

(N) The Teaneck City Club, that’s another club that’s in town here. Made up on businessmen in town. Every week we meet on Tuesday. We have guest speakers. We learn about community affairs. It is the same thing. What’s going on in the county? What goes on in the community? And the last Tuesday of every month, we give out a good citizens award to a good citizen of Teaneck High School, boy or girl.

(I) When did that start?

(N) That started back in 1934.

(I) Do you remember who started it?

(N) I couldn’t say.

(I) Are there any other organizations you belong to?

(N) No. The only thing is I’m President of the Teaneck Fireman’s Exempt Association which you are entitled to belong to an Exempt Association after you are seven years on the fireman’s job. I’ve been President from there since 1971. And since 1974, I have been Secretary of the Fireman’s Relief Association.

(I) Okay. Let’s take the first one. What does the first organization do?

(N) It’s a social organization made up of your firemen. You have to have seven years on the job to belong to the exempt.

(I) And when you say social, when do they meet?

(N) We meet; well we are not very active now. We also have volunteers that used to be volunteers belonging to this organization. We meet once a year. The only thing we do is we elect Officers, we have a death benefit in there and we pay a death benefit when you die.

(I) And the Fireman’s Relief Organization, what does that do?

(N) Yes, that’s where you collect money from your insurance policies and it is turned over to the state organization and they funnel money back to you Teaneck Relief Association and that is also like a Central Relief Committee that we help needy firemen and stuff like that. And really what it is is to be sure that a man has a decent funeral. And it has a death benefit too.

(I) That’s a serious group. Do you remember any instances where someone was really helped lately?

(N) Oh yeah, we help all the time. It is confidential but we have helped people. We have helped retired men who are in their 80s and 90s. We pay their fuel bill and stuff like that hearing aids and stuff like that.

(I) Are there any other organizations?

(N) Well I belong to the POAB.

(I) Okay. What is that?

(N) Patriotic Observance Advisory Board.

(I) And what do you do there?

(N) Well I did. I retired. I was a Legion Representative, which was made up of your Veteran Organizations in town from 1958 to 1964, I was the Legion Representative. And then I was the Township Representative appointed by the Council from 1965 and 1966 and in 1967 to 1983, I was the Secretary appointed by Mr. Schmidt. And since 1961.

(I) Now why were you appointed by Mr. Schmidt?

(N) Because I was the secretary. A township employee.

(I) And he appoints them?

(N) He appoints them. Members are appointed by Council. Your secretaries are appointed by the, that’s what their Advisory Boards are. And then from 1961 I was the Parade Chairman.

(I) Okay. And other organizations?

(N) No. That’s it.

(I) That’s plenty. Tell me what, who you worked with on the Council of St. Paul’s?

(N) I worked with Bill Bing.

(I) What does the Council do at St. Paul’s? Do they run the whole church?

(N) They run the whole church. Bing was the President of the Council. I was the Property Chairman. I was the person in charge of the property. I took care of the lighting, the amplifier systems, the grounds and stuff like that. And the building, the painting and stuff like that.

(I) You were in charge of that. Did you have all volunteers helping you?

(N) Well for certain part I did. I had certain members of the Council to help me. I had certain members of the church to help me. Like the painting and something like that. The amplifier system, that, what I couldn’t do was done by Lindsay Electronics and lighting was done by (his brother owns Foodtown) In fact his brother was on the Council. He passed away. Panzenhagen.

(I) Can you tell me a little about St. Paul’s? Their youth program. Did your children go through them?

(N) My children didn’t go through the youth programs there. My children went through Sunday school there just like I did. We didn’t participate in the Boy Scouts. They were in another Boy Scout Troop. They didn’t belong (inaudible) not the CYO. They had another youth organization down there. They didn’t participate in it.

(I) What do you think Teaneck will be like in another ten years?

(N) The truth? If they don’t watch it, it will be just like New York.

(I) Okay. You mentioned Toricelli. Have you worked with Toricelli or have you done anything in politics?

(N) No. I am not involved that much in politics. I have worked with Bob. I have had Bob as a guest speaker at a couple of occasions in the Legion and I went to a couple of dedications with him. I had him for a couple of speeches on the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board and we had speeches given at ceremonies and participated in since he got involved in politics. I like the man. He is young. He is ambitious. And I think he is going to go a long way.

(I) Good. Otherwise you have not been in politics at all?

(N) Well I have been in politics, in and out all the time, being involved in the American Legion and that, you know. I have a lot of problems because Matty Feldman who I’m very close with and worked with him as the Chairman of the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board was the Chairman of the Democratic Party. Nelly Gross went to school with him. I played football with him. He was the Chairman of the Republican Party. I know Johnny Gannamord. I know Bill McDowell. I am involved with all of them.

(I) Are you a registered Democrat or Republican?

(N) No I am a registered Republican but I have worked with Democrats and I have worked with Republicans.

(I) Ever work actively for anyone getting into Office in Teaneck?

(N) No.

(I) Do you think it is a good idea for someone in your position not to?

(N) Well we always had to handle the policy. The closest thing I got, two years ago I was going to run for Council. If I got elected, I was going to retire. They can’t stop you. But then I had a heart attack and I dropped out the picture.

(I) How do you picture your retirement?

(N) Well I hope I enjoy it.

(I) What are you planning to do?

(N) I am going to to Poconos.

(I) To live?

(N) We are having a place built and it should be ready in another couple of weeks.

(I) Why do you think you son James decided to stay in Teaneck and live here?

(N) Well because he isn’t married. It is very simple. He, in fact he is going to move out soon anyway. He was going to probably move up to New York State to where he works. Right now he has an hour and a half ride to work but he is home, he don’t pay no board and he has a good living and I guess he likes his house. That’s why he is home.

(I) What do you think the strengths and the weaknesses of this town are?

(N) They cater to too many people, that’s the weakness.

(I) And what do you think is the strength?

(N) The strength is that as long as we don’t change this type of government, what we have here in town is an independent; I think we will stay together. As soon as you start bringing Republicans and Democrats in there, I think you are going to have problems. (Inaudible)    Let him take care of the employees, leave the politics away from it.

(I) What would you change if you could change something in Teaneck?

(N) What would I change? School system. Let them go right back to the community basis like it used to be when I was a kid. We went to the school in own neighborhood.

(I) Okay. And where, do you go (end tape 1, side B – begin tape 2)?

(N) Well I just went to the ball game. I don’t think it’s a safe place to walk around with my wife. I even worry about going to a ball game.

(I) Where do you go?

(N) Yankee Stadium. That’s all I’ve been for the last four years.

(I) You never go to the Meadowlands or anything?

(N) Meadowlands. I go to the Meadowlands for Football. I’ve gone there for soccer and I’ve gone down there, I haven’t been in Byrne Arena yet. In fact I signed a petition to change its name. And I’ve been in the racetrack.

(I) When you said you would like to change the schools, let’s go back to that, in Teaneck, that’s the only thing you would change. You’d go back to what?

(N) I would like to see it go back to the way it was when I went to school. The neighborhood schools. I think it is a lot better for the kids and everything else. You waste more time and gas and everything on these buses sending them all around. I don’t think they are learning any more than if they stayed right in their own community.

(I) And what do you think about the closing of the four schools?

(N) Well, if you don’t have the students, you are going to have to close them. This is a big upkeep. You have to have a good program to keep the schools up to shape instead of having them fall apart because you got to rebuild them again and it takes a lot of money. But I think you don’t know what’s going to happen down here in Glenpointe. You don’t know how many people are going to move in here. It is just like me. I am selling my house. I don’t have no children going to school now but I may sell my house to somebody that is going to come in with sick kids or four kids. How do I know how many is going to move in?

(I) Do you agree with the schools they chose to close?

(N) I really haven’t paid too much attention. But I do know from years ago that they did talk about closing No. 3 School. It’s one of the old schools in town.

(I) They are closing Emerson.

(N) That’s Emerson School. Eugene Field, that’s the last grammar school they built. But where are they going to put the kids. Hawthorne School, they just got done getting rid of the portable classrooms down there. I think they should have gotten rid of them a long time ago but they just got rid of them,

(I) Are they safe fire wise?

(N) Yes, they are safe but I mean why ruin the grounds when you don’t need them. They, you know when they put these portable classrooms in, being involved in all these schools all the time with fire alarms and everything else like that, I always see empty classrooms in school. I have never seen every classroom filled up in the school year. Even in grammar school.

(I) What do you think about Washington Irving, closing that? Is that a good plant?

(N) Well yes and no. I think you have the kindergarten over there. I’m not sure what you have there now. But I know the Board of Education wants to use that building so they are not going get rid of it. They have to get out of the town house.

(I) Are they all safe our schools? Do you consider them all safe?

(N) Well as I said to you, I went to this school over here, Washington Irving; they built a new school behind it because it wasn’t safe. So they moved out of there and they made it the recreation building and they’ve been using it ever since. Right. That’s forty years ago.

(I) Are there any other schools that you would question as far as safety?

(N) Well the only read old schools that I would question about being built-in fire stops and things like that would be No. 1 School and No. 3 School.

(I) What is No. 1 School?

(N) Down on Oakdene Avenue, Longfellow. And Emerson. That’s the ones. Now here, here’s No. 2 School right here. This picture was taken back in the 20s, still standing there.

(I) Do you remember any stories about the fire department that you could tell us?

(N) Well just what I have written and what I got from my father that Company #1 which was on Forest Avenue here by Carlery Flannery’s and then it moved across the street to the gas station. It also was in a little white house back here. That was one of the first companies started back in 1904 and at that time, they used to have different sections that they called here in Teaneck as Upper Manhattan Heights which was up here by Bryant School and then there was the West Englewood Park section and then there was the Lowell Teaneck section. And then the other company which was on Morning Terrace, not Morningside Terrace, Kenwood Place and that was built in 1908 and that, there first apparatus was a house in Douglas Barn on Lindon Avenue and then they built the fire house on Kenwood Place in 1912 and that served there and then in 1953, they moved to the fire house on Cedar Lane. And then the Masons took over that building. Co. #3 which at that time was known as Company # 1 which was organized in 1911, that was down on Morningside Terrace and that firehouse was built in 1913 and Teaneck Fire Department still uses that. And then the fourth fire house was in down in Glenwood Park and that was built in 1911 and then they built a house in 1923 they moved up to their new quarters which was up on Railroad Avenue, Old Hemlock Terrace down there by the trolley line and then that had a fire in it and burned down but (inaudible) that’s when we only had three stations in Teaneck and then we got the paid department. And in 1968 they built this new firehouse over here on Windsor Road.

(I) Do you remember the original Mansions of Teaneck, where they were, what they were like?

(N) You mean the firehouses?

(I) No, the Mansions. The big, huge homes.

(N) Oh you mean Phelps Manor. No I only have pictures of that down in where the town hall used to be and the library and Holy Name Hospital. They only old thing that I remember, couple of old things that I remember in town, when I was a kid I used to go up and play with the guinea hens and the sheep when Ackerman had the place where the telephone company used to be. He used to have a big Chestnut Tree there and that used to run all the way back down to almost Queen Anne Road, to what they call Queen Anne Road now and down through the Palisades there. And then there was an old school house down on Fort Lee Road, not Fort Lee Road, pardon me, River Road. That was an old school house. That burned down. That later went into a farm. Then there used to be the two gatehouses that I remember down on Fort Lee Road, was what they used to call a Gate House. They later down and then they widened Fort Lee Road and then there was one down by Hackensack River. Then I remember Heart's Restaurant used to be called the old Fairleigh Dickinson down there, used to be the girl’s dormitory at one time. You came off Cedar Lane down there to where the apartments are now.

(I) What was Cedar Lane like? What did it look like?

(N) Well Cedar Lane, I can remember when it was a cobblestone road going down from Queen Anne Road down to Palisades Avenue and naturally they had a narrower bridge down there. I remember when there was a diner and a gas station on the south side of where Louie’s are in there. Where the Big Bear used to be. And I you had the diner on the other side of the street. You had a diner where the parking lot is now for the bank. Then you had the old movie theater, then you moved it. The Big Bear use to be next to the Teaneck Theater. And you have the five and dime down there. Then actually from Elm Avenue down used to be all woods.

(I) Where did people go food shopping?

(N) Well you had the Big Bear which was on one side of the street and you had I think it was an Acme or something down in there on Cedar Lane and you used to have an A&P or a Grand Union or whatever it was down here on Queen Anne Road. I remember the National Store right down here by the second store in from Forest Avenue there used to be a National Store. There used to be another one up here on West Englewood and there used to be all little small grocery stores.

(I) What was West Englewood area like?

(N) West Englewood Avenue down by the bank and all that was all sand. The only thing that was there was the old, well the post office used to be in the Circle Building down in there next to the bank. It used to be a big sand pit down there. I remember that.

(I) Do you remember, did you ever take the trolley?

(N) I took the trolley over to Palisades Park when I was a kid I used to take that.

(I) Did you ever ride the train, go to the train station?

(N) I took the train down here in West Englewood and went into New York. I used to do that with my mother and father at times.

(I) Where did the train take you?

(N) You used to get the train down here at West Englewood. They used to have a gray shack down there and we used to get the ticket and take it into Weehawken and get off and go in that way.

(I) We had a railroad station too down by Cedar Lane.

(N) You had a railroad station at the foot of Manor Court there.

(I) How many people would use that train a day?

(N) Well quite a few of them. I remember living on Oregon Court when I was a youngster, let’s see, there was Millard’s, there was Canflax, Jones, Madden, there was five of them out of thirteen houses that used to take the train into New York, and Rogers, they used to work in New York. Cause they used to walk together down West Englewood Avenue.

(I) Was it good transportation?

(N) I guess it was a good transportation. Quite a few people still use the trains and they are trying to bring them back. And I can remember down behind us there was, it burned down one New Year’s Eve, used to be a nursing home on Englewood Avenue.

(I) Was there always a sanitation department, do you remember?

(N) Yes. No, the sanitation department was picked up, they were by the private owners they had in town, there was about six or seven of them.

(I) They were always private?

(N) It was always that way. They always picked up the garbage. The town never got involved in that.

(I) How long did you wife work for Bendix after you married her?

(N) Two years. And then we had children and the children grew up and then she worked for Garcia and now she works for the Holy Name Hospital.

(I) What does she do at Holy Name?

(N) She’s the Secretary to the Assistant Administrator.

(I) Does she belong to any organizations?

(N) She belongs to the American Legion; she’s the past County President. She served as the Unit President of the local club.

(I) Has she been active in politics at all?

(N) No just working for different candidates at times, that’s all.

(I) How do you think she feels about bringing children up in Teaneck?

(N) Well, she was happy about it. She was active in the PTA at that time.

(I) Do you think you will miss living in Teaneck?

(N) Well I expect to be back quite a bit.  It only takes me an hour and half to get back. I am still going to keep some of my affiliations with the Americans Legion.

(I) Tell me about working on the Library Committee.

(N) Well the Library Committee was formed in October, 1973 and the Chairman was Matty Feldman at that time and Gary Sage was the Treasurer and we came up, we figured the library was small and we needed a larger library to serve the 40,000+ people in this community and I thought it was a good idea and I was asked to serve on the committee and I said I would be very happy to. The only thing is when we started this Library Committee, we asked, like I say, 1976, we figured it was a good year, Bicentennial Year, and that we would get a whole 1,976 people to pledge $1,000 each and we would have enough money to start and do what we wanted to do. And I served with quite a few people on this committee, there was Mrs. Taylor and Charlie Strickler, Mr. Robins, Richard Lathberg, Elinor Kielichek, and Sister Kielichek, and Sister Evelyn from Holy Name Hospital, Dr. Berlin and his wife, and like I say, I am interested in this community and I have worked on a good many affairs with Matty Feldman and that’s how we started out. As you know, we ran into trouble with Mrs. Stanarelli with it and everything else and that’s what happened.

(I) Who did you work mainly, what did you do for that committee? Did you do any research?

(N) Well I went out and I got pledges for the committee and went to different organizations. I went to the City Club, I spoke at the City Club, I spoke to the Rotary Club and I spoke to the Kiwanis Club, I spoke to the Woman’s Club. I got donations. I went out and collected different donations from different people.

(I) What was it like working with Matty Feldman? What kind of person is he?

(N) He’s a tremendous fellow. I knew Matty before he got into politics. I knew Matty through Veteran Organizations. He was the State Commander of the JMV when I first met him. He moved in this community. I got to know him better when he ran for Mayor of the town. He served this town as Mayor and then he went into the Senate and I worked with him for the last ten years as the Chairman of the Patriotic Observance Advisory Board and I worked very good with him.

(I) How would you describe him?

(N) Oh I would describe him as a fairly young man, ambitious. He liked to work for the community and other people and I would say he would give you the shirt off his back.

(I) Have you worked for any other special projects in Teaneck?

(N) No that’s the only thing I worked for was that and the Patriotic Observance Board. You know I ran all the

(I) What happened to the money for the library? Do you know just what happened to the

(N) Well, the money that we had was turned in and a couple of debts that we had to pay, we paid the depts. That we had. But not too many people asked for their money back. What did we gave back but it all went for the use of the library.

(I) Do you like the new library?

(N) Yes. I think it is very nice. The concept is still there with the library that we had years ago and they a lot of it in contact and remodeled the rest of it.

(I) Have you, did you have to go down there to set your boxes and make decisions for that? Do you do that?

(N) Oh I was involved with the master plan of the library, putting the alarm system in and all that, yes.

(I) The fire department is very strict about the opening of the library. Do you remember what that was about?

(N) Well number one, they didn’t contend with all the codes that we have in the State of New Jersey. There was shortcuts they were trying to, and in fact the Council misappropriated money now to put the sprinkler system in that should have been in a long time ago. The town adopted the Volker Code; they knew what they had to do.

(I) Now you were telling me about the Volker Code. Paul Volker you were talking about.

(N) Well the Volker Code is a uniform code that was adopted by the State of New Jersey. You know, years ago you would come here to Teaneck and say, hey, I want to put up this building and we say we want ¾ inch sheet rock and you can say well I know an old building in Fair Lawn and I only have to put in ½ inch sheet rock and the architects didn’t know what they were doing and each town was fighting. Now it is all uniform. When you fix a building up in Trenton, you put a building up in Morristown; you build a building in Teaneck. It has to be built all the same way. You have the same codes so the architect knows what he is doing.

(I) And what is this called?

(N) The Volker Code.

(I) Did you work on that on for it?

(N) No. (End of tape)

 

Continue on the Next Page

Back to Teaneck Oral History (2)

Back to Township History Main Page