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This is an interview with Ester & Myor Rosen for the Teaneck Oral History Project. April 26, 1984 at their home.
(I) Mr. & Mrs. Rosen, you've been in town for thirty two years now. would you tell us why you chose Teaneck?
(E) We were stuck in an apartment, three rooms with two children. There were no apartments to be had for years and we were looking for a place to live and we chose Teaneck because of the good school system and we brought our family here and from the day that we moved here, the family felt very much at home and loved the town. Our children grew up here and went to school here, graduated from Teaneck High School and we are still here.
(I) When the children were in school, were you active in the PTA in the schools?
(E) In the beginning we were very active because there was a threat of triple sessions in Teaneck and a great need for new schools and it was the one time when the PTA was a vital force in the community. Every home in Teaneck was visited by the people of the PTA and feeling were running very high and we know every one and what they felt about the school. And at that time, I was quite active.
(M) I might add that at the time we decided to move to a home, to a house as against apartment dwelling, this was around 1951, our second child was barely two years old and it was not just that apartments were difficult to obtain, it was the idea of apartment dwelling with two children. It was a prospect that we didn't relish at all. So we felt it was time that we started thinking in terms of a house.
(E) And a piece of grass for the children.
(M) And a piece of grass and the reason we chose Teaneck, not only because of its great school system, it was also a model town by the way. It was one of the two model towns at that time that were internationally. I mean nationally portrayed as such and also we know that we wanted to go out of the city. We wanted to bring up our children in the area where there was some trees instead of just concrete sidewalks and so forth and living in a box of an apartment. So we chose Teaneck because it presented all of these possibilities to us.
(I) You obviously have not regretted this choice.
(M) Not at all. And even though the school system at that time was touted to be among the greatest, there was no junior highs at that time, Both junior highs as we know them now were not yet built. Neither was the Fields school up. The elementary school which fortunately for us was built a couple of blocks from our house so that certainly I think our youngest child, David, went through the Fields school and both our children went through the entire school system from elementary school through junior high and through high school. And of course we as young parents were very active in all the activities pertaining to the PTA and education.
(I) In the schools you were active also in other areas. Mrs. Rosen you were teaching art and volunteering some of your time?
(E) I taught art for many years in the Jewish Community Center. I taught children at that time and volunteered my services to the Teaneck schools. Almost every class that my children were in were classes in which the teachers asked if I would teach and I did. It was a special thing for the children to have an artist teaching them rather than a teacher teaching them. And they enjoyed it.
(M) You used to go once a week. It used to be art day or something. Like they had a French teacher that came once a week and the children used to tell us. they used to speak about this Madam somebody who taught them French once a week.
(E) But she was an employee of the school system. I wasn't. I volunteered Myor and I did it occasionally, not regularly.
(I) What did you actually teach them?
(E) The children? The children that I taught were taught how to draw, how to paint, how to appreciate art. And so many of these young people have followed the field and have become professionals in the field and they, some of them are still in tough with me, and they tell me, Mrs. Rosen, you always taught us how to appreciate art as well as how to do it. Should I mention Nancy Bialler?
(I) Please do.
(E) Nancy Bialler is the daughter of Mrs. Bialler of the Teaneck, she's very active at the Teaneck Library. Nancy is working for Sothebys and very active in the print department Sothebys. Very respected person. Judy Tannenbaum who was another student runs the gallery in Pennsylvania University. I will get you the information exacted on that. She runs a wonderful gallery there and has been on panels in New York City of artists getting together. She is very active and well known in her field and is an art historian. I once went to a show of wearable art up in Massachusetts and was surprised to see one of my other students exhibiting. There are many of them. I can't think right now of all our friends. Also our children had yearly show at the Teaneck Library for many years form the time that Agnes Naughton was the head of the library and then when Hilda Lipkin also became part of that.
(I) When you say our children
(E) I am sorry. I mean the children I was teaching, not ours.
(I) That would be from the community center?
(E) From community center and subsequently I had classed at the Y in Hackensack, many Teaneck people. That was for adults as well as children and the many Teaneck people were in that, classes.
(I) Are you still teaching?
(E) I gave that up just a few years ago so that I would have more time for painting.
(M) I am delighted to say that I was a student as Ester's classes when she used to teach at the YMHA in Hackensack. For seven years, I went to her classes on life drawing and she was my teacher. And a very good teacher I might add.
(I) Was he a good student?
(M) Wonderful. The children used to say, Mrs. Rosen, why are you so hard on him? He's so wonderful. He does such beautiful work. We had an interesting class. We had people of all ages, teenagers, there was a man in that place, Mrs. Warshawsky, Irving Warshawsky, was a very forward looking man. He wanted to have a life class for teenagers but we figured out that it would not be possible to just put one on because all the parents would be up in arms. At that time, it was a very unusual thing for teenagers to be in a life class. And so we agreed to have an adult class with one or two teenagers in it and I told him how wonderful the children were there. That they really wanted to find out how the figure looks. They were not there for any other purpose and so one thing led to another, and we finally has 45 young people in those classes in one night. We had to made three classes. We had to take in new teachers. They sent the Record over to take pictures and it was quite a Hullabaloo and it really started those classes burgeoning in Hackensack.
(I) Twenty five years ago, you were instrumental in forming the guild, Modern Art Guild. Would you tell us something about that?
(E) Yes. There was an exhibition at the Teaneck Library, put on by the Bergen County Artist Guild of which I had taken part and someone came over to me and asked me would I be interested in forming a new group called Modern Artists Guild. The selected a number of people whom we met and we voted up each others work and out of that, eight people became the Modern Artists Guild. It is still in existence today and as a matter of fact, in the autumn of this year, in 1984, the seven people who are members, Teaneck members, will be having an exhibition at the Teaneck Library. The Modern Artists Guild is a very important art organization. It is the one group that represented the state of New Jersey at the New York World's Fair as a group. There were many other Jersey artists but Modern Artists Guild was the only one that showed as a group. They consist of professional people who are teachers, lecturers, demonstrators, most have had one person shows in New York and in colleges and in universities and it is still a very vital force in Bergen County.
(I) Who are some of the founding mothers and fathers?
(E) There was Alexandra Merker, Erna Weill, Jerry Goldman, Marius Sznajderman, Lillian Merzell, Evelyn Wilson and Ben Wilson and Sam Weinik. Evelyn Wilson and Ben Wilson and Sam Weinik. Sam Weinik and Marius Sznajderman and Ben Wilson were the three leaders of the group. I think the others may have come in right after that. They may not have been founders. I know that Erna Weill and Alexandra Merker were and Sam Weinik and Marius Sznajderman and Ben Wilson and Esther Rosen.
(I) Were there any other civic activities that you took part in?
(E) Will I remember going on a Peace March up at State Street. I remember going up there and bumping into some of my students. Cecile Green was there and we were walking. I think that was at the time of the Vien Nam War and we mothers didn't want our boys to go into the war and I remember Matty Feldman coming up and boosting us on. And that's all for that.
(I) Mr. Rosen, although you weren't on the Peace March, you've been active in the town in a number of things.
(M) Well, of course, while my children were growing up, I was interested in most of the musical activities that were taking place in Teaneck. Noteworthy were the concerts at the Teaneck High School under the direction of Don Mairs. And who by the way was our backdoor neighbor. The back of his house abutted ours right here during that time. And then our daughter eventually ended up in Teaneck High School playing the bassoon in the school orchestra and in the marches and so forth and the football games so that we became quite friendly and Don Mairs prevailed upon me very frequently to play harp either as a soloist or with the orchestra when it was difficult to find a local harpist or somebody around who could play in the orchestra and I helped him out many times. I loaded my instrument into a station wagon and carried it to the school and I felt that I was really part of the community and that this was certainly a worthwhile project and in musical terms, it was close to my heart. At other times, as my children went through the lower schools, I remember my son being at the Fields school and it was a back to school night in which he prevailed upon me to carry my harp to the auditorium and I entertained the parents and some of the students there of an evening much to my son's delight of course. He was very proud to have his father come in there and play the harp for them and he delighted us with demonstrations of what they called at that time the new math. And we were fascinated to see these developments taking place in an area that, in my time at school, was as far moved as computers. Let me see, what other activities?
(E) Myor, may I remind you that David as active in the chorus with Mr. Gilmer and he was also in the all state chorus, he made that and Mr. Gilmer came here.
(I) So you are a very musical family?
(E) I would say so.
(I) Have your children gone on to be professionals?
(M) Well not musically although our daughter just before she married had reached a point of proficiency on the bassoon where she was already playing professional engagements with the son of Pierre Monteux who was Claude Monteux who was conduction the Hudson Valley Symphony Orchestra at that time and he was using our daughter Linda in the bassoon section so she was playing professional engagements already but of course she surprised us all when at the age of seventeen became engaged and subsequently married so she dropped all her musical pursuits and since has become a computer person and how she works as a computer specialist in the industrial world should I say.
(I) And your son was not a
(M) Our son sang and took up one or two instrument but I think that our children although they are both what should I say musical in terms of appreciation of music, were a little too overawed by their professional parents who had already made it and I think that when it came to pursuing music as a profession, they sought of steered away from it because I think just the idea of a accomplishing so much in their lifetime was too staggering a goal.
(I) I know you have given other concerts in town besides in the schools.
(M) Well we did have concerts at local residents homes at the Ethical Cultures Establishment in Teaneck. There was a time when the New York Philharmonic was on strike and we were, we enlisted the help of the local citizens to help support us morally and financially and we in turn gave chamber concerts in various people's homes where these concerts were arranged on our behalf.
(I) Were there many of the members of the Philharmonic living here in town?
(M) Well there is quite a contingent of Philharmonic musicians living in Bergen County and probably between six and ten who live in Teaneck itself. So much so that we have formed carpools and we travel together to and from Lincoln Center. As a matter of fact, the carpool I belong to, four people have been the same carpool for twenty four years. And one of the few carpools that was existed for that long a time with the same constituents or participants.
(I) It is extraordinary that you all ended here in Teaneck.
(M) Well many of us actually began in Teaneck and although we didn't bring each other here, it so happened that our mutuality of desire to be close to New York but not in New York brought so many of us into this area and
(I) Who does your carpool consist of?
(M) We have John Ware, trumpet player, first trumpet player, Eldon Bailey, affectionately known as Buster Bailey, who is in the percussion section. Both of these people, by the way, were in the orchestra when I first came into the orchestra in 1960, both of them were already in the orchestra and the fourth member of our carpool, a man who used to live in this area but now lived further north near Mahwah is Edward Erwin, a member of the trombone section in the New York Philharmonic. He travels down from Mahwah, meets us up at the high school, at the Teaneck High School where three of us drive our cars and the fourth one, who ever he happens to be, drives the others into Lincoln Center.
(I) Is there anything else you would like to add?
(M) Well I'd really like to say in retrospect that between Esther and myself, although my life has always been focused on musical activities, it was really my wife's activity in teaching art which has, I think, helped more young people in the direction of art as a way of life than I myself in terms of my music. Perhaps if I were a music teacher, or a harp teacher, as much as I am actively a player, I would be able to say somewhat the same but in Esther's case, she taught so many children who to this day some of them come back to her and tell her of their activities even in professional areas of the arts and mothers who stop her and remind her of the time when she was teaching their children and form a standpoint of inspiration alone, I think that Esther has done more than her share of inspiring the young people to go on and become artists.
(E) Thank you Myor.
(I) Before we leave you and the art, can you tell us about some of your art work. Some of your famous customers?
(E) Yes, the papers had articles recently on the fact that Mr. & Mrs. Alan Alda bought some of my work. They were looking at our work and say one of citrus fruits that I had done. It was still wet and I said, yes, but who in the world would ever buy this. It is so big. It needs a great big hotel to show it. And they looked at each other and they said, well, we are adding anew wing to our California house and it would be perfect there and I said what could be better then my citrus fruits going to California? Well since then they have bought for their daughters as each one graduated college, a picture as a gift for them. I think that is a very beautiful thing to do, to buy your children a gift of a painting when they graduate from college. And they have recently bought some other of my work too. And I'm very happy to have them as customers.
(I) I want to thank you both very much for this interview. It has been a pleasure.
(M) It has been our pleasure June, Thank you very much.
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