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: Edward L. Pearson
INTERVIEWER: Theodore Branch
DATE OF INTERVIEW:    February 8, 1984
TRANSCRIBER: Jackie Kinney 

( I ) How about your grandparents – were they from this area? 

( N )  My grandmother came from Englewood. But she died some years ago. I was in my teens when she died. I liked it very much here. When I was very young there, the horses still pulled the fire engine around and it was like a country town, Englewood. Large with a lot of fields and in the winter, we skated in the ponds and in the summer we swam in the ponds and that type of thing. I lead a life like Tom Sawyer. This is our second time in Teaneck. We moved here, we lived across the street from where my father’s place is and then we went back to Englewood again but then we finally came back to Teaneck because the property that my father had his eye on was finally opened for sale so he bought the lot for about $700. It had part of the building on it. The man was building on until the time his wife died. Then he stopped and gave it up and then man who owned it previously to him took it back. So my father bought it, as I said, for $700 and then we were back in Teaneck again. So after the war, I came to live with him – 1946 – and I stayed with him a while we were building my house here and we started in 1948 with this house. It took us six years to finish it so then finally in 1954, I moved in here. 1948 to 1954, six years it took to building it. 

( I ) It was like a farm, wasn’t it?

( N ) There was a lot of open space and a lot of farm here. In fact this place was all, well sort of had been a farm, it was all over grown and there was a lot of trees growing in here, like a forest. So we cut down just enough trees to put the house in and left most of them up. 

( I ) Interviewer is unclear. Sitting too far from recorder.

( N )  Well my parents liked it here not too much the conditions but because where we had lived in Englewood was being built up and this was still open and he had the amount of acreage here that he wanted so that he finally moved in here.

( I ) 

( N ) No. Not so much the political side of it. My father was a minister. He was busy with his various churches in different towns. Methodist. He started in Englewood and he went from Englewood to New Rochelle. From there to Mahwah and I think he had a small church in Paterson. Then he went to Orange New Jersey.

( I )

( N )  Well I don’t know if they gave it too much thought but this street, Lorraine Avenue where he was living at the time, I think they were all black families. There had been a few white families but they gradually moved up too. On Rosemont Place here, there were all white families along here. And gradually the while families moved on. When I was in high school, one of the last families, it was a white family (unclear)

( I )

( N ) Oh, I had a very happy childhood. My social life was very nice. I belonged to a Boy Scout group over in the houses over in Englewood there. But not for too long but I went on a couple of trips with them.

( I ) 

( N ) No. I was never affected by it. When I grew up, they had no high school here in Teaneck. All of the Teaneck kids went to Englewood but I guess a few of them went to Hackensack but in Englewood, we had students all the way from Fort Lee and up to Alpine. They used to come by trolley. The trolley came from Tenafly. It went down to Fort Lee ferry past Palisades Amusement Park.

( I )

( N ) Well we had.. this street, Lorraine Avenue, earlier it was not paved and I forgot what year they paved it but they finally paved it and …

( I )

( N ) We got the Record, The Bergen Record. You could buy it at the stores.

( I )

( N ) It was a church organist for a number of years. For ten years, from 1960 to 1970. Before that, I played in a band for about thirty years so I have a background in music. In the band, I played piano, trombone and guitar.

( I )

( N ) Yes I helped him a little bit but most of the time I was working in the post office in the day and playing at night in the nightclubs so I didn’t have too much time. Just on weekends. Teaneck. I came here. I worked in New York for about three years and then I came here.

( I )

( N ) It was very interesting and it was all new to me. I made my own drawings and had them blueprinted and we built the house. But I don’t know. I just sort of grew up into it, I guess. And just took it as it came. 

( I )

( N ) Well I graduated from Englewood High School in 1928 and I really had no idea of what I wanted to do and there wasn’t much to be done at that time so I did a lot of gardening with my father and played at the nightclubs at night and married a person about thirty years old named Louise Moore from Englewood. That lasted until I went in to the service and came out. And my second marriage was in 1956 or something like that and we adopted a son. A boy. He was two years old. Two years and four months of age at the time and he is now twenty-seven. He stays here with me. Because my wife, we divorced, but we are always on friendly terms and there is a chance we might get together again, you never know.

( I )

( N ) Yes, I was in the service. I was in the 99th fighter group in Tuskegee, Alabama. I was a clerk typist in the office of the Commandant of Cadets. I did all the reports, sick reports, reports of change, monthly personnel rosters, duty rosters, insurance, day room cleaned and the mail. I did a little bit of everything. I had a choice of staying there or being shipped out but I figured I could get home to be with my wife and at the time every three months. So I figured I might as well stay there. And the officer I was working for was the Commander of Cadets. He was breaking in somebody every month or so that I stayed, I was there three years and three months.

( I )

( N ) Below Forest Avenue next to the, right next to the highway there was a camp. It was an                    Division.

( I )

( N ) Well we found a lot of families coming out from New York City. Of course, they didn’t come out in a rush but one by one, they just came out here. I don’t think they had too much difficulty getting houses. I know that I was going to buy a house not too far from here in Teaneck but my father said we could build one cheaper so I decided to let him go ahead and start building it. And as it worked out, it was cheaper. I built a house for $3,200, over a period of six years. And you couldn’t buy this house for that price now.

( I )

( N ) Well I never heard of any friction, not around here. I know about the white veterinarian over here. He's on Queen Anne Road. And I think everything went fairly smoothly.

( I )

( N ) They had some in Teaneck that I heard but some of the real estate people were trying to get some of the white families to move out so they could put black families in there. Blockbusting tactics. But a lot of the white families refused. One of the last is still up there, on the street right behind the school on Teaneck Road.Do you know where the church, I think the Baptist Church, and the street right in front of it. The school is on the corner of Teaneck Road and there is a light right there by the school. I can’t recall the name of it.

( I )

( N ) Tryon, I think. That’s where the light is, isn’t it? Well, behind the school, they were a Jewish couple, they refused to move. They were always Jewish families and Italian families and Irish families because my wife and I, we belonged to an adoptive group everybody in there had adopted kids and this man that I said that still lives there since the blockbusting era, they had adopted two boys and we used to go to dinner parties and theater parties with them.

( I )(unclear)

( N ) No, I never worked on any committees of that type.

( I )

( N ) Well I don’t have to squawk with them at the present about anything. The only thing I worry about is the taxes seem to be creeping up and up and up and I understand there is another raise imminent next year. That’s my only difficulty with the town.

( I )

( N ) Me? I’m satisfied with it. I don’t go to New York that often. I haven’t been in New York, it’s been about eleven years since I’ve been to New York. 

( I )

( N ) Well I feel all right about it. I feel some of these things are just bound to happen, you know. People have to live someplace.

( I )

( N ) No, except that I remember when I was a kid in Englewood, they banned fireworks just before the fourth of July and at one time they sold them, they started selling them a couple of weeks before the fourth of July but they cut that out. Then it was only I think the day before and that was it. So we used to walk up to Teaneck here on Forest Avenue. I think there was a house on the corner of Congers Avenue and Forest Avenue, southeast southwest corner, and there used to be a store and they sold fireworks there you know. So we used to walk over here. Couldn’t get then in Englewood.

( I ) 

( N ) Just about 1968 I would say, maybe a little later than that. Rev. Thompson was there when I came. I like the congregation. You see the congregation is mixed. It had a mixture to it that I have been used to all my life. I came from a Methodist church here in Englewood which was an all black congregation and I was kind of, well, I didn’t know what it would be like over here but my son had joined the Sunday School here so that he could be a member of the Scout Troop that the Sunday School was sponsoring and my wife had left the church in Englewood and she had joined the Presbyterian choir. She sung in the choir. So I went over there finally just to see what things we like, you know. And I felt very much at home. I found a woman, she was like a classmate of mine from Englewood High School, graduating class, Eva Olson. She was in my Graduating class. So anyway, as I said, I was right back in my own environment. So I like it but I hesitated about joining because my family were founders of the church I had left and I have a feeling that my ties where still there, you know. Gallilee Methodist Church. So finally I was there just as a visitor for three yeas. I had my envelope just like any other member. So finally it just came to me that I was not going back to Gallilee. I am going to stay here. Finally I joined.

( I ) Do you have a hobby?

( N ) Right now my music is my biggest hobby, I would say. But I’ve done my share of photography and I play a little tennis. I don’t play too much, nothing to strenuous. I just go out there and hit the ball up against the backboard, you know. So long as I don’t have to run too much, but I guess that would be about it. 

(End of interview)

 

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