|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:||April 9, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (5/16/1984)|
(I) Did you have any other hobbies or interests as a girl in Teaneck outside of the school activities?
(N) Yes. I liked piano. I studied piano. I started studying piano when I was at the Convent of Mt. St. Ursula in New York before I came to Teaneck and I kept that up, that and my sister and I sued to do part singing, you know, and harmonizing. I studied the violin for a little bit.
(I) Did you have a piano teacher out here in Teaneck?
(N) Yes. he was the organist at Holy Trinity. I studied with him only for about, on less than a year I think, Professor Boland.
(I) Was your family chruch-goers?
(I) And where did you attend church?
(N) Well for a good while we started out by going to Holy Trinity because that was where for the first three years, see I only went two years because my sister and brother continued. They went another year past that then they all transferred to Teaneck but we didn't stop going to Holy Trinity Church for several years after that. I know that it was in 19, well I was already going to St. Anastasia's in 1940, I know that, because I was working for the Carmelite fathers. I edited for a time, a year and a half or two years, edited the Carmelite View which is the magazine for the lay people and also
(I) Where was that published?
(N) It was published in, well the publisher was in St. Minerads and the editorial office was in Tenafly. St. Minerads Abbey in Illinois I think it was. Illinois or Ohio. St. Minerads anyway.
(I) Were you out of school when you were editing that?
(N) Oh yeah. I graduated from school in '34. I also sold real estate for a while. from '34, after high school, then I, the next year I went to Bergen Junior College which is now part of, it was absorbed by Fairleigh Dickinson.
(I) It was here in Teaneck?
(N) No. I was only in the second year and it had two floors in the Y in Hackensack. It was very small and very intimate, small classes, excellent teachers, but I only went for one year and then I decided, because I had gone to try to get a job in the summertime and I found that people with college educations, degrees, were just as out of work as I was so I told my father, I am not going to school for the next three years. I am going to go to work.
(I) So where did you go?
(N) Well, I did some art work in '36 for Alvion School of the Theatre. It wasn't a money deal. They gave me a complete nine month course in dancing, toe, tap, ballet, acrobatics, the whole works, in exchange for I did their advertising art work.
(I) Where are they located?
(N) They were located right off Central Park West on 85th Street. They are no longer in business now. The people who ran it, Fred Astaire studied there, and I can remember the old man, Mr. Alvion, saying, telling me that Fred Astaire's real name is Austerlitz which it is, he was, it is a German name, so that goes up to '36. Then 37 and 38 I wrote a column for King Features.
(I) What was the name of it?
(N) WHAT'S THE ANSWER, then sub-titled A LIBRARY IN MINIATURE. It used to run on the editorial page, in New York, it ran in various other places, but in New York it ran on the editorial page of the Journal American and a number of teachers used to clip it and use it in class. And that sort of thing.
(I) A question and answer format?
(N) Yes, I would take a current news item and then something I would think was interesting. Then I would go to the New York Public Library and research it and get ten interesting facts. You see, if you do a thing like that, you do it in reverse. You get the facts then you write the questions that would be answered by the facts. So it was ten questions and answers a day on one, on each topic at it was a six day a week feature so I did six a week.
(I) Was it hard to manage that every day?
(I) It was easy?
(N) I did it less than, I did it in two days a week. I would read the paper on Sunday and write down the topics that I wanted to research. I would go into New York on Monday, spend the after noon or most of the day in doing research, Tuesday I would type it up and send it into the office.
(I) Would you drive in in those days or also take train and
(N) No, I took the train in. Commutation was, you know, was cheap.
(I) And how would you get across the river?
(N) Pardon me.
(I) How would you get across the river?
(N) I would go and take a train if I didn't take the car.
(I) And that went where? Wouldn't you have to change transportation? The train would let you out where?
(N) Weehawken. Then you would get on a ferry and go across then you would get on the 42nd Street crosstown bus. But the tunnel was opened. The tunnel was opened by the time I was doing that. So most of the time I didn't take the train because the train was great until one of the union deals wouldn't let the conductors go and close the ventilating transoms in the trains and they used to always close those just before they would go into the tunnel in Weekhawken and if they didn't, you wind up with a lap full of soot. So when they didn't close the things any more. I stopped taking the train. I couldn't take that.
(I) What happened after WHAT'S THE ANSWER?
(N) Oh, that brought me up to '39 and then I quit that because I got sick of it and I didn't want to take just any job, just to be employed, because I wanted to wait for something I really wanted. So Lillian Young who was a realtor in Teaneck said, why don't you take a real estate license, take out a real estate license and work for me and she said, you can adjust your time, if you want to go for an interview, go for a job, just take the day off. So that's what I did. I think I sold one house and made two rentals but in those days, it was still the depression, people didn't have any money and on a summer afternoon, you would have somebody say, oh I would like to see this house and this and that. All they wanted was a ride in your car, you know, to get out of the house and see somebody else's house.
(I) Was there any building going on during the Depression?
(N) No but I remember that when you see the way prices have skyrocketed now, to know that I could have sold, if I could have gotten buyers for them, off Washington Avenue up between Bergenfield and Dumont there were these lovely little brick bungalows, one and a half stories, you know, expansion second floor, $4,700 for the house. You can't buy a car for that now, let alone a house.
(I) So you worked at real estate for how long?
(N) Well I kept my real estate license until I started to work for King Features in 1943 but meanwhile, before, at the same time I had the real estate license, I also went to work for The Crown Light Review. I had done a lot of volunteer work over at St. Celilia's for Fr. Albert Dolan and I never charged him for anything. I did art work for a lot of his editing, for a lot of his pamphlets. I did the front covers and I would take his scripts from that were done in sermon style and because it is sermon style, you have to have a lot of repetition. So you take it and you edit out the sermon style, you put it in the straight away book style. I did that work for him and I did that as a volunteer thing and then I went, while I was doing that kind of work. I also worked with from January till May, for America's town meeting of the year, the radio program of George V. Denny, Jr. I was associate editor of their broadcast bulletin.
(I) What was it called again
(N) America's town meeting of the year. George V. Denny. And I would have to attend the broadcasts with the typescript given by the speakers. Then after that there was a question and answer period that was on Friday Night the broadcast, then Saturday morning I had to be there in New York at 7:00 and by 12:00 I would have to have the entire broadcast edited, set up for type and everything else, you know, did you ever work with steno typists stuff, reporters, papers, well they go, they type like the wind and they get every single blessed work but when you, words, there is no punctuation, there is no paragraphing, there is nothing to indicate where the one speaker started and another speaker ended so you have to have been there and know where to end it, where to put in question-answer and that sort of thing. Well that had to all be done in five hours so by noon, that had to be finished and by 2;30, the Columbia University Press would have had it typed and I would have to go over there and proofread it with their proofreader and the way they operated at that time was they'd pay for their own typos but we paid for any other changes that I had missed, office changes anything or that sort. But it was an interesting background. That plus the Carmelite Review were my chief, prepared me for anything. I was monkey on the job on both, I saw it from
(I) And that led into what?
(N) That led into my job at King Features. I went from the Carmelite Review to King Features.
(I) And what was your official title there?
(N) Well when I first went there, I was assistant editor and then I became associate editor and that was my title when I left, when I retired.
(I) As editor, what exactly did you do?
(N) Well I edited the Bridge Columns, I edited Medical columns, Psychology columns, I edited two sets of crossword puzzles, I edited one set of cryptograms and created another set myself. I edited a feature called the Wishing Well. I edited astrology columns. Another feature called Junior Whirl which was a Sunday feature, once a week.
(I) And you must have met people all through your life there.
(N) I met quite a few.
(I) Well, let's get back to Teaneck.
(N) I've lived on Cherry Lane from August of 1928 until now and I still live there. Not very imaginative.
(I) How do you compare Teaneck today with Teaneck when you were in high school?
(N) Well Teaneck today is a large municipality. When I first moved to Teaneck, it had a population of about 16,500 and it is upwards of 45,000 now. West Englewood was mostly woods except for the Ogden and Maitland and the ones the streets that came down to Windsor Road but the rest of it was largely woods. I liked it when it was small.
(I) Was there a different spirit to it?
(N) Well it was more small Townish than it is now. Like now it has became the bedroom of New York rather than a small place.
(I) How would you describe it now besides that?
(N) Well it is much more urban. I happen to like, I happen to have liked it when it wasn't built up. I mean they used to have victory gardens along Queen Anne Road and that sort of thing and I don't think there were any more than about sixteen or eighteen stores on Cedar Lane when I first came here.
(I) Do you remember some of the store names?
(N) Oh yeah. There was Stalders Hardware Store; there was Kuldencans Delicatessen; there was (inaudible) Bowling Alley; Feibels Bakery Lou Feigble and his wife had the bakery and then they still had the bakery when they opened the Bowling Alley and finally they sold the bakery and they just had the bowling alley.
(I) Were they combined in one building?
(N) No. The bakery was out where Butterflake is on Cedar Lane. They had that big bakery and the bowling alley, oh that bowling alley, when they opened that it was absolutely immaculate. They kept that place so clean, you could practically have eaten off the floor. I never saw anything that glistened. They were hard-working. Industrious German people that really did a good job.
(I) Did you say they were the original bakers on Cedar Lane?
(N) Well they were the ones that I remember. Napoli Jewelers was there when, then there was, it used to be a meat market near Napoli's, it was called Finns, I remember that.
(I) Did your family do most of their shopping on Cedar Lane?
(N) We did most of our shopping on Cedar Lane, yes.
(I) Where else would you go for anything?
(N) Well there was no such thing as malls and things like that. If you wanted to go to a department store, you took a bus or a train and you went back to New York, you went to Macys, Gimbels and Saks and Bloomingdales.
(I) Have you been active in any organizations in Teaneck or political campaigns or
(N) Well I was, years ago I was one of the organizers and first solicitors for the Police Athletic League.
(I) How did you get involved in that?
(N) Well I know some man who was active in our church, in St. Anastasia's he was also active in Pal, trying to organize PAL, Bill Born, he is now dead.
(I) This was the very beginning of PAL?
(N) The very beginning and we went, they were supposed to have had 100 people to canvas the town for donations to start PAL and
(I) What year was this?
(N) Oh, late 40s, early 50s, I just really can't remember exactly. In any case just a handful of us brought in most of the money. You know, we did the doorbell pushing and that sort of thing and got the money. so of the ones that did the actual work, the nucleus of the thing started. I wasn't active in it for more than about a year or so because then I got busy doing other things.
(I) Did you, were you into any other organizations?
(N) Well I was in Junior Catholic Daughters. Not excuse me, no Junior Catholic Daughters. Yes I was. I had a troop. I belonged to Catholic Daughters of America. Ii dropped out of that but while I was there I also ran, had a troop of girls. One summer we all went down to Manasquan.
(I) And they were
(N) Junior Catholic Daughters. We went down to Manasquan together. I took my vacation, a week of my vacation, to go down with them. I had a ball.
(I) How old would those girls be? Were they all Teaneck girls?
(N) All Teaneck girls and all teenagers. They ranged from about 13 to 16, in there somewhere.
(I) What activities would you do during the year with them?
(N) oh, I had just supervised their meetings and that sort of thing and we didn't do too much
(I) Was it more of a social meeting?
(N) More of a social thing than anything else and keeping the girls together and busy.
(I) How about political?
(N) I belonged to the Taxpayers League. I was elected I think one term as Republican County Committee Woman.
(I) What dos the Taxpayers League do now?
(N) It is defunct now. It would have done the same type of thing
(I) How did it pass away?
(N) Well that I really don't know. I really don't know. My father died, Walter Jeshurun died, other people who were active in it, either they moved away or something. I just don't know what actually caused its demise but other ones were sprouting up and whether some people went over to the other ones, I don't know.
(I) What do you thing are the strengths and weaknesses of Teaneck? As a town?
(N) Oh I don't really know how to answer that one. In what sense do
(I) Well, let's say what do you, what is especially good about living here now, do you think, in Teaneck?
(N) Well it is nice to be in a suburban town.
(I) Do you go into the city often?
(N) Now I don't. Now since I am retired, I go in as little as possible so I go in about maybe, if I have done five weeks of work, I'll go in then I won't have to go in for the next five weeks unless I want to.
(I) You mentioned your retirement but I know that you also are busy writing books or
(N) Well yes I create three daily and one Sunday crossword puzzle every week, cooking features, I did that, I was working almost seven days a week by the time I was retiring because I was doing, I had a regular full time job and I had these things besides but I took them on because I wanted to take them in retirement. I also do a feature called the Wishing Well.
(I) You still do?
(N) I still do that too.
(I) How do you go about writing a crossword puzzle.
(N) Well the thing is people ask me that. Chiefly you have to have enough sense to stay out of your own way when you, a sense of proportion and order is very necessary to do anything quickly and if you can't do it quickly, it doesn't pay to do them at all, you know. Most of the crossword puzzles today have theme works. I could use the names of states, or I can use double works like PARTIME, PASSTIME, things with TIME, MARK TIME and that sort of thine.
(I) Do you prefer theme work? Is it easier?
(N) Oh I do because once, I put those in, select diagrams where they fit, put them in first, it gives me a jumping off place to work right around them and wang
(I0 Do you have a huge library at home?
(N) No. I don't have too much of a reference library but I have been editing puzzles since 1943 and creating them since 1958 so you get to be a walking dictionary. I say a walking dictionary of facts not worth knowing.
(I) Do you use them for research, the old puzzles
(N) I never look at an old puzzle, no. By not looking at them I
(END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B)
(BEGIN TAPE 2, SIDE A)
(I) How do you describe the changes on your block? You have lived there a long time. Are there any original people like the Paquins?
(N) Aside from the Paquins there are the Bedrosians who came there the same month that we did.
(I) How do you spell their name?
(I) Are they Armenians?
(N) They are Armenian.
(I) Did they had a big family?
(N) Two sons. They had two sons, one was killed in an automobile accident just this last summer. He was a wonderful boy. he was the oldest, he was the older boy.
(I) What did Mr. Bedrosian do?
(N) He had his own tailor shop on Queen Anne Road in Bogota for many years before he retired from that and then he did work for I believe Bloomingdales. Now he is retired; he is in his 80s now.
(I) Is there any other originals?
(N) Until a couple of years ago, there was Mr. Olsen, Rudolph Olson. He was a violin maker an one of the nicest memories that I have when we first came there, then for years afterward, he and his wife Martha would have the musical afternoon. She was a cellist and he was a violinist and they had friends who played the piano and they would have chamber groups and you'd sit on your own porch and the music would just float up the street, you know, and it was just delightful thing to, and then
(I) How many houses were on the block when you first moved there?
(N) Well everything from Queen Anne Road down, well the last two houses towards Palisade Avenue on the north side were built later. Then there were three houses, there was the Olsen Place, it was a little brown bungalow on the south side of the street right up, starting right up the hill. Then they built two white frame houses and a brick and, a brick frame house, the Solomon's live in that one now. But most of the houses were already elected.
(I) Let's get back to the original neighbors then.
(N) The original neighbors were the Tracy's were, the daughters still live there now. The house faces Queen Anne Road but the property backs up, you know, into
(I) Do you remember Mr. Tracy.
(N) He used to own Tracy's Nine Mile House many years ago. The restaurant of his name in Little Ferry.
(I) And how about anybody else?
(N) The Sullivan's lived almost directly across the street from me. One of his daughters, he had been a town poormaster for many years before he retired and his daughter, both of his daughters, were teachers. He had several daughters and they were grown and away before I ever as a girl moved there. But what was her name
(I) What did you say he did?
(N) He was a poormaster. The town poormaster.
(I) And what does that mean?
(N) I don't know what his work was because he was no longer than when, he was already retired from that job.
(I) So they were there before you even moved in.
(N) They were two school teachers, Dale, Mrs. Dale. She was still in school when I was, she is a bit older than I but she was still in school but she taught in Teaneck schools for umpty thousand years all of her teaching career and then she had a sister who taught in Englewood, mostly I believe handicapped or underprivileged children. They are among the, the Christiansens, they were there. he was, he did, what do you call that, he did plastering and
(N) But there was another word that I was thinking of.
(I) Mason. But had two daughters.
(N) He had two daughters, yea. Emily, Ruthie was married and has a couple, has children and she lives up in Mahwah somewhere, I don't know exactly where, Ramsey, Mahwah up the line in Bergen County. Emily lives in the house but she, they sold the house a long time before Mrs. Christiansen died. He live in Cliffside Park, what's in town that borders next to Fort Lee down the south side. She's not far from Anderson Street. Palisades Park, maybe it is Palisades Park but anyhow that's where Emily lives now.
(I) What kind of a turnover do you have on your block? Have you had a lot of new people moving
(N) Well nobody moves in and out that fast on our block but we have had let's put it this way before we turn
(I) It is going. That's all right.
(N) Well, for example, the house just west of me. The original people were called the Griffins and they lived there ten or fifteen years I guess and they sold the house to the Springs who brought up their family there.
(I) What did the Griffins do.
(N) He was a patent attorney.
(I) And the new family?
(N) And the Springs, he worked for Esso.
(I) Do you know most of your neighbors. Do you feel you know almost every person?
(N) Oh, not now, not now I don't. I used to. But after my mother became ill.
(I) She died after your father?
(N) Yes. She died in 1962. But in 1955, she became ill so that she had to have somebody stay with her and so my sister stayed with her. She gave up her job to stay with my mother. But our social life dwindled from there so
(I) So you don't know all your neighbors right now.
(N) No. I know the neighbors on either side. I know quite a few of them. Well I know everybody from my house to, the four houses east of me and two west and the people down at the corner, the Robinsons, but I mean it is not a visiting situation.
(I) did it used to be when you first lived there?
(N) Oh years ago it was. Years ago.
(I) Would you have parties I mean that would take in all the neighbors
(N) No. Not parties. We visited in and out of each others houses as a neighbors do and the kids growing up together but once I went to work, that was it.
(I) Do you have a lot of children on the block now?
(N) Oh yes. I always think that people buy the houses, stay there until their children are grown. Then they move away and another family moves in and they bring up their children. I've seen a number of families, families of children as they grow up and move on.
(I) Just to finish up about your retirement work, you have written books you said.
(N) Yes I have done six books of crossword puzzles. in 1951, 52, 53 and 54 I did one book a year, crossword books for children eight to twelve.
(I) Do they still sell?
(N) No. I don't think so. They are not now. And then I did two, they were published simultaneously in June of 1960, one was a crossword puzzle book of science and a crossword puzzle book of sports. part of those I subcontracted because, as I say, my mother was ill then and I didn't have the time and to finish by the deadline because I was still working in New York and doing my extracurricular stuff there too so I didn't have two heads and two pairs of hands.
(I) How would you get to write. Someone from New York. Someone out here?
(N) Well I got one of the people who worked with me on the crossword puzzle book of sports was very active in local politics and concerns here now, Richard Makall (Machol). He did some puzzles for me. Then a friend of mine in Washington did a few others, Washington, D. C.
(I) Jo, I want to thank you very much for making this tape and spending the time with me this afternoon. Thank you.