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: Ida Mortenson
DATE OF INTERVIEW:    April 1, 1985
TRANSCRIBER: Jackie Kinney (9/1985)

Previous Page

(I) Who was the first person to get a car in your family? First car that you remember?

(N) Our first car, I think, was a Reo (?) and that was. . 

(I) Who owned it?

(N) My father. My father and then he bought one for my brothers. I think it was a Reo, the first car that we owned. 

(I) Were there many cars in those days? In Teaneck? 

(N) The first car, I think, it was a white steamer. 

(I) Who owned that?

(N) I am trying to think. I don't remember. 

(I) But you remember seeing it.

(N) Oh yes. I remember it used to steam up once in a while too. 

(I) Was there a rush to get cars then? 

(N) No, no.

(I) People resisted them.

(N) Listen, you know, when Helene came back from the service, I had a, I don't remember when I did have a car, and she politely turned it in for a brand new car, beautiful car, a Buick. .

(DAUGHTER) That was before I went in mother. 

(N) Was it before you went in? 

(DAUGHTER) Of course.

(N) And what do you suppose she paid for it? A Buick, $1,400.

(I) Tell me about your Rolls Royce now. Was that a big purchase? 

(N) Well that was a big car. Even then it was about $10,000 but it was my husband's boss' car so he practically gave it to him, I think it was about $1,000. And then after my husband died, I, of course the price went up, the bumpers and all the metal was all German silver in that car. It was specially built. And I sold it, he gave me $50 deposit, I gave him the bill of sale and never saw him since. Oh, I did some very stupid things.

(I) Where did the trolley line take you. How far could you go on the trolley?

(N) To Paterson and to Edgewater.

(I) And in the other direction, you'd go down to Teterboro? No, that was the train.

(N) No, the trolley line went right to Paterson through Hackensack, Maywood right to Paterson and Edgewater on the other side. 

(I) Did you ride it often?

(N) Very often. To Hackensack, it was a nickel and I think it was a nickel to Edgewater.

(I) Was there a conductor on it? 

(N) A conductor and a motorman.

(I) And how many cars would be on it? 

(N) ah, one car. Just one car. 

(I) Did it run often?

(N) Every half hour I think it ran. Yes, and there was always people on it.

(I) Would it run at night?

(N) ah yes. Wonderful ride. In the summertime, the seats were across the car and you could walk in any seat, any aisle you wanted to get in. You could get in any aisle and in the winter they were closed.

(I) All closed up. But it was cold?

(N) Yeah, in the winter, you just got in one way, it was a closed car. Those were the days.

(I) When you compare those days with days now, which do you prefer?

(N) Sometimes the olden days were wonderful. The most wonderful memories. There were no murders and no killings and no raping and there was nothing like that. No, nothing like that. And today, that's all you hear.

(I) We are talking about recreation now, right?

(N) Well that's it. Our recreation was my father played many instruments and my brothers played instruments. I played the piano. But in the evenings for recreation my father would line us up, we'd march and play our instruments and have the grandest time just having fun by ourselves. It was wonderful. You never hear of those things now. Father and mother and the three of us, we just enjoyed it so much and amused ourselves that way.

(I) Did Teaneck have a band or anything like that, a marching band?

(N) Not that I know of.

(I) What do you think of the Glenpointe development, redevelopment? Do you like the buildings and the structure?

(N) Well I don't know. I am not terribly interested in it. It is easy to get to from New York. Moreso than the Hilton.

(I) What do you think of them putting a supermarket down here on Front Street?

(N) Well I don't, of course it wouldn't be any easier for me. My daughter does most all my shopping because it would be going up the hill, this way it is going up the hill and the other way so I don't know. But what about the parking? If they put it down here?

(I) Yeah, it is going to be hard. Traffic problem.

(N) I know. Will they have enough parking to begin with for the cars?

(I) Well they'd have to or they wouldn't build it otherwise. Do you ever go out and shop in good weather?

(N) No, my daughter does most of the shopping.

(I) Did you ever consider living in the senior citizen development down by the golf course?

(N) Well it is all taken, all taken up all the time. But then. . 

(I) Did you ever ask about it?

(N) Yes I did, years ago. But here I am near the drugstore if I need anything. I am near the bakery if I you know want a loaf of bread or something. I am near sort of a five and ten and things like that, if I need a spool of thread. But there I couldn't go out anywhere.

(I) Do you think that was a good place to put it?

(N) No, because you can't get out unless, they have a car that takes you I guess once a week or once a day, I don't know.

(I) Do you have any friends living in that. . 

(N) Yes, I have Ann, Dr. Salman's wife. Yes.

(I) Does she like it? Do you visit her there?

(N) She likes it very much but the only thing is, she doesn't drive any more. Not that she's so old, she's not so old. She could drive. But, she just doesn't. And it is hard for her to get out.

(I) How long have you been out of your home in Teaneck? 

(N) Well..

(I) How long have you lived in this apartment?

(N) Going on fifteen years.

(I) That's a long time.

(N) Then I stayed with my daughter for a while so . . in my apartment. Wait a minute, how long is mama dead?

(I) Can you tell me about some of the stores that went up on Cedar Lane from the original stores?

(N) The first one I remember is Feible's Bakery, wonderful bakery. 

(I) Is that the same family that does the bowling alley? 

(N) That's right. The son still runs the bowling alley. 

(I) This is the father that had the bakery?

(N) That's right. And then the next one. . Lou Feibel. And the next I remember was across the street from Feibel's was Woolworth's Five and Ten. And we used to go there all the time.

(I) So that's just two buildings in this whole area?

(N) Yeah. But they finally, one by one, they finally got there. I don't remember which one was next. Oh, I remember when the movies came, that was years later.

(I) Well the old Post Office was down. .

(N) The old Post Office was on Palisade Avenue north of Cedar Lane. Just about 200 feet north of Cedar Lane.

(I) When did they build the bridge that went over the tracks? Was Cedar Lane pretty well developed then?

(N) No, I don't think it was well developed but they, I hardly remember when they, it must be 65 years ago, about 65 years ago.

(I) When the stores went into Cedar Lane, did you do all your shopping there? Did you do everything there?

(N) No, we used to go to Hackensack.

(I) Did you ever go into New York for shopping?

(N) Oh, I went to New York three or four times a week. But I wouldn't dare go into New York now.

(I) Was it just for shopping? Why else would you go?

(N) No, just browsing around.

(I) Did you ever go into New York for dinner? 

(N) Not anymore. We used to all the time. My mother had a yearly seat at the opera all the time. We used to go to the opera and I didn't like the opera but she loves it. Because I didn't understand it too well. 

(DAUGHTER) And Carnegie Hall. We always went to Carnegie Hall. 

(I) You'd go into Carnegie Hall to go to the concerts. And would you go by ferry in those days?

(N) Well always. We always went by ferry. We'd either go the West Shore Railroad or we'd go to the trolley to Edgewater and then take the subway or the elevator down to wherever we wanted to go.

(I) And you'd come home at night the same way. 

(N) Yes.

(I) Do you remember when the George Washington Bridge was built?

(N) Yes I remember that, That was before 1928, after 28. 

(I) Around 27. And after it was built, did you use it all the time?

(N) Oh yes, when we went to New York. It was much quicker especially when you had cars.

(I) And how soon did the ferry stop after that, do you remember?

(N) It was on some time before they stopped it. They are going to start it again. 

(I) And what about the trolleys, when did they stop? 

(N) Oh, I don't remember just when they stopped.

(I) Do you think it was cars that forced them out of business?

(N) Yes. I wish they were back. 

(I) Did buses come right away into Teaneck?

(N) No, not at first. I don't ever remember when the first bus was. .

(I) So everyone drove?

(N) Yes.

{I) What train station did you use?

(N) In Bogota, not in Teaneck, that was too far for us to walk. The Bogota station of the West Shore.

(I) Did Teaneck always have a train station?

(N) The Teaneck one, yeah on the West Shore. They always had one.

(DAUGHTER) I can remember going into New York with my grandfather when I was little with flowers and we would go down, we didn't go to 125th Street because we went, we went on the ferry. We went to Weehawken because I remember one time I was with papa and Max when the lady's baby carriage started rolling down when we were going down the big hill and they stopped the car and they jumped out and they got it. Or the baby would have been killed. I remember that so plainly. When you went down to Weehawken, there was the big hill that goes all the way down. If you go through the Lincoln Tunnel, in that area. And they happened to see it and they stopped and they stopped the baby carriage, the brakes were off or something. But they used to take flowers into the market in big boxes, especially chrysanthemums. My grandfather's chrysanthemums were just magnificent and sweetpeas, of course, no one grows anymore. They are too much work. You have to string them.

(I) Could you tell us who Mr. Brown is?

(N) Mr. Brown was a peddler from Englewood. He used to come around once or twice a week with a bag, sometimes with all shoes, sometimes with clothes, and you'd pick out what you liked, if you liked him, for very little money and he'd be off until the next week.

(I) And he'd carry them, you said, over his shoulder? 

(N) Over his shoulder in a big sack.

(I) And you remember, he was a black man? 

(N) No, no. He was Jewish.

(I) And you were saying you don't remember any Jews in Teaneck when you first came.

(N) But he lived in Englewood

(I) And worked out of Hackensack?

(N) No he worked from Englewood, he used to go to different towns with the sack on his back trying to sell his wares.

(I) Do you remember when Jewish people moved into Teaneck?

(N) I just don't remember who it was. Oh well, Dr. Elding, he was a Jew, lived in the old Palmer house and Rothenbergs on the other corner, they were Jews. They were very nice.

(I) They were your age, were they, their children?

(DAUGHTER) No, they were my age. Hilda was a very good friend of mine. They went to Longfellow School too.

(I) Do you remember any black families in Teaneck at all when you. .

(N) None around here, no. I don't remember any of them. None at all.

(I) Not working in any capacity. Where did your neighbors work? Your father worked

(N) I had no neighbors.

(I) When you were describing your neighbors, where you lived, when you were married. Did most of them work in the area?

(N) My one neighbor had an automobile agency and across the street, the Buckmans, he had an insurance business.

(I) In Teaneck or in the city?

(N) No, no, in New York. They went to New York. 

(I) They call commuted.

(N) No, Mr. Chambers, he had it in Bergenfield, an automobile agency. And next door, the Millers, I don't know what he did.

(DAUGHTER) That was when we moved into our house though. Not when you were younger. And Mr. Miller was a masseuse in New York and an artist.

(N) There was no Teaneck High School. My brothers, they had to go to Leonia or Hackensack. My brothers went to Leonia High School. See, there was no high school in Teaneck. Not until years later.

(I) After it was built, then your family was too old. .

(N) Then they were finished.

(I) I would like to ask you about Bright Side Nursing Horne. You knew the family that ran it as a nursing home?

(N) The man, I forget what his name was now. The man, the doctor. And they treated him wonderful.

(I) But you knew the family that ran it?

(N) Yeah.

(I) And what did you say their name was? Simon?

(N) I can It remember. You meant the Amy Simons? No, they used to live in that house, the Simons, Clarence Simon and Amy Simon, they were the Jewish people that I think were the first ones near us and they were wonderful.

(I) Do you remember what the father did? Amy's father did.

(N) When I knew them, I think he was retired. He was a man with a great big beard and Amy was the most beautiful, and I think Clarence, the son, was a lawyer.

(I) And you used to play in that house then with Amy?

(N) with Amy, she used to take me in her room and do my hair and oh Amy was at least, well about twenty five years old. She was a beautiful girl.

(I) And then it became a nursing home.

(N) Then they sold it, yeah, and I think it became a nursing home right after that. 

(I) And your husband went there for the last five months of his life?

(N) Yes.

(I) And what did you think of it as a nursing home?

(N) Well they treated my husband wonderful, wonderful. Very, very wonderful.

(I) Do you remember the year your husband died?

(N) Oh yes. I do. 1910. 58, wasn't it? 1928. 

(I) So it has been a nursing home since then?

(N) Oh yes.

(I) Well, that's interesting.

(N) 1928, yup.



Back to Teaneck Oral History (2)

Back to Township History Main Page