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.
Audio recording of the interview with Charlotte Scarbrough

NARRATOR: Charlotte Scarbrough
INTERVIEWER: Ethele H. Brown
DATE OF INTERVIEW:    March 27, 1984
TRANSCRIBER: Jackie Kinney (9/1985)

Hello, I am Ethele Brown. I am at the home of Charlotte Scarbrough on Rutland Avenue. Charlotte, do we have your permission to use this tape for the Teaneck Oral History Program. Answer: You certainly do.

(I) Charlotte, how long have you lived in Teaneck?

(N) I've lived in Teaneck since November 1, 1965 so that would be eighteen plus years.

(I) Where did you live before coming to Teaneck?

(N) I lived for one year in Hartford, CT and prior to that time, I lived in Philadelphia.

(I) Charlotte, how many children do you have?

(N) I have three. I have a daughter, Hillary, two sons, Curtis and Neil.

(I) Did they go through the Teaneck school system?

(N) Basically yes. My oldest was in second grade when we moved to Teaneck and the other two were pre-schoolers so I guess you can say they basically went through the Teaneck school system. My middle son went to prep school for high school so he did not finish Teaneck High. He finished Northfield-Mt. Hermon in Massachusetts.

(I) Did your daughter Hillary, did she graduate from Teaneck High School?

(N) She graduated and my oldest son Curtis graduated from Teaneck High.

(I) What did you think of the school system when you first moved to Teaneck?

(N) I thought the system was a very good system academically. In fact I think it was excellent. Just before we moved to Teaneck, we had gone back to Philadelphia and I grew up outside of Philadelphia in a town by the name of Ardmore, Pennsylvania and it also was known for its excellent school system and when I came to Teaneck, I found that many of the materials which were used in the Lower Marian school system were being used in Teaneck and I felt good that my son was not behind the class, he was ahead of the class. They had the new math and everything and the school system where he had left was basically ahead of the class in the new math that they were doing at the time so considering that school system was supposed to be one of the best in the country, Teaneck was very close to it.

(I) At that time, when you came here, there was a lot of problems as far as race and the issue here. Did you have any problems with your children at that time?

(N) Well, we came right after the integration into the school system. We moved into what you would call a predominantly white neighborhood so a lot of the problems of the busing we did not have because our children walked to the neighborhood school. A number of things occurred in school which my son, my oldest son, he was very quiet, never mentioned until later years. Well I know the first day we went to school and being a school teacher myself, I went into the school to register my son and I said I have a new admit and the secretary looked at me and she says, oh, but before she could say anything, the principal came out and said, did the district office send you? I said, do you have to go to the district office to enroll in a school? And he says, well, uh, in this town, yes, you should go to the central office. And I said, why? And he says, well, uh, uh, and before he could say that, the secretary interrupt him, being a little more knowledgeable about things, and said where do you live Mrs. Scarbrough? And I said, 330 Rutland Avenue. She said, oh, she doesn't have to go to the central office. She lives in the neighborhood. And I was very shocked at that. I didn't really know what was going on at this point. But nevertheless she enrolled us and she also said to me, oh you moved into I forgot the name of the people we moved from, but she knew whose house we had moved into. That's how familiar everyone was with the neighborhood with people moving in and out.

So then I took my son, they were very nice, he was also very nice and he told me to take my son to the classroom. So I took my son to the classroom and right away the teacher says to me, are you going to pick him up after school or are you going to let him go home on the bus. So here she is assuming that I, my son, is bused. So I said, oh he can walk home. She says what? I said we only live down the street. So she says, well, come in and make yourself at home. She was very nice and she introduced him to the class and I looked around the room and I said, oh goodness, my son has not had cursive writing yet. I see you've introduced cursive writing already. She said, don't worry, don't worry about that, she said. We have all levels of everything from pre-primer on up. I said, well I hope my son is not in pre-primer and I left. So my son used to tell me little things like the bus children had to leave early. They told them to get in line early. And I never, I used to notice that my son was home from school before three o'clock but I never thought much about it. I always thought maybe the clock was slow or he ran all the way. That's what he'd tell me. But he was always getting out with the bus kids and when they would dismiss them to go out to meet the bus, he would just leave with them and come on home and nobody, they always thought that he was bused. They never knew any different.

My second son entered in the fall and at that time, the kindergarten children were, went to their neighborhood schools. They were not bused. And he was the only black child in his class. The teacher said she was surprised that he got along so well with everyone because there was one black child in the school the year before in the kindergarten class and she had a lot of problems.  He was a very friendly, outgoing person and I will say the boys in the class were very friendly to him. They invited him to their homes and they took up with him right away and he still has friends whom he met in that kindergarten class. One just left Colorado visiting him, he is in college and one just went out for his spring break to stay with my son. At the end of that year, they had plans for a central kindergarten and it was quoted in the paper that outside of Washington Irving and the Bryant School, there was only one black child in a kindergarten throughout the whole system. That happened to be my son.

My daughter went to the central kindergarten so there was no problem. She also went to nursery school in the town and I worked part time as a supplemental teacher in the Teaneck system and she would go to nursery school a few days a week and she seemed to have no problem. She, from the time she started nursery school, everyone accepted her. She had a lot of friends. There were some people who looked at us rather strangely but we didn't pay too much attention to that because we always seemed to have friends, someone would befriend my daughter and I know for a fact that I used to work from 9:00 to 12:00 at Whittier School, the neighborhood school as a supplemental teacher and the bus came at 11:30 and a parent would always tell me that I will take Hillary home and you can pick her up at 12:00. I had two or three or four friends who would volunteer to do that and I just felt it was great that here I am new in the community and a minority in a neighborhood and the parents would be so pleasant about taking my daughter home and keeping her until I came home. They would meet her with their daughter at the bus. Of course they wanted someone for their daughter to play with too. And there was one parent who lived on Winthrop Road, the prestigious street, and she would pick Hillary up and take Hillary to the office. She helped her husband at his office. He was a physician. And she would take the two of them to the office and keep them and then bring them home so I had really a lot of pleasant experiences in the beginning.

(I) You mentioned that you were a supplemental teacher at Whittier school. What do you do now. Are you still teaching?

(N) Yes, I am still teaching. I went to work full time twelve years ago. That was interesting the way I started working in the school system. I became very involved in the P.T.A. and the League of Women Voters and I don't know, well those two I was very involved in. There was something else I can't think of but I had become involved in the League of Women Voters while I was in Hartford and so when I came here, I saw that they were doing a lot and I got involved with that and I became involved with the P.T.A. because I've always been a person who felt that you should do your share for the community. When I became involved with the P.T.A., I went to a couple of the meetings and they said they had a tutorial system which was a very good program at our school and I volunteered to tutor so in the meeting, I could hear some undertones about certain children were not achieving in school like the others and we wanted to help these poor children and being a minority, I knew just what they were talking about. They were very diplomatic but I figured out just what they were talking about.

I was determined that I was going to come in and I was going to help these children and to show them that these children were not uneducable as they were referring in the meetings. So I volunteered to work with these children and they called me and I went to school three days a week for two children. At this time my child was eight or nine or ten months old, I can't, I am not that good at counting but she was under a year. I left my daughter in the bed and I would open the window, it was sort of towards the spring, and I would open the window and ask my neighbor if she would, while she was in her kitchen doing the dishes, if she heard Hillary cry, would she come over and get her and I would, a couple of times I have, a couple of days a week I would leave and leave Hillary there until my neighbor heard her and she would run over or she would come over and sit and I went to school and I had one girl in particular, I will not call her name, she still lives in Teaneck, and her teacher says to me, she is going to be a high school dropout. Of course the student was black. And she, sometimes she was not very pleasant but at that time, there were about two blacks in each class. I don't know if it was intentionally but that's what the number was. Two in each class.

And this girl was there and she was arrogant and she would show them a hard time and I had her and I started teaching her to read. I do, when I arrived in Teaneck, I had two degrees. I had already acquired a master's degree in reading. But I didn't say anything about that. I just went in and I started working with this student. Well, it wasn't a month later that this teacher came to me and said, you know, she can learn. She's not a high school dropout. I would work with that girl and I would work with her. And as I said, I went up days I shouldn't have gone. Then there was another little boy whose father is a millionaire now and he was in this system and he was the other black in the class and he was having a difficult time so I worked with the two of them. Then another friend of mine who was a Caucasian started working with the boy and we pulled the two of them out of a slump where they had already determined, pre-determined, what these kids would do in the future. And I think both of those kids finished high school but I felt so good that I had helped these kids and the teacher admitted that they could learn and her first opinion was incorrect.

(I) Where are you teaching now? 

(N) I am now teaching at Thomas Jefferson Junior High School.

(I) Do you still deal with under-achievers or . .

(N) Yes, I am still, I went in as a remedial reading teacher but that's a long history of that. I started tutoring. In the meantime, I had a neighbor who was a teacher at this school and she said to me when she found that I was a teacher, she said, you know Charlotte, we have teachers here tutoring and you certainly qualify. She said, I don't see why you can't get paid for what you are doing. So I said what is it. And she said, they are called supplemental teachers. And I said well how do you go about it? So she told me, go down to the Town House so I went down to the Town House and I said, I would like to apply as a supplemental teacher. Can you tell me which department to go to? So the secretary meets me at the front desk and she says, oh, you have to be state certified. Are you state certified? I said, no. But I have a Pennsylvania teacher's certification and I have a New York City. Certainly I can get certification for New Jersey. She says, well, fill out the forms but we will have to send away for your certification. So I said all right. So I sent away for my certification and my certification came back. I said to her in the meantime, well don't you have a reciprocal agreement? No, you have to get certified. So I sent away and I asked for it to be sent there and I called back in a couple of months because I really would have liked the money so she says, oh, first she said your certification didn't come through. First she said to me, are you certified? I said, I've been in there before and I filled out my forms and I sent away and I said I felt she had gotten it by now. Well, she said, let me check. Oh yes, the certifications are here but there are no openings. So that was the end.

So in the fall, the following year, I inquired again and this time my other son was in kindergarten so I went up and I inquired again and they said, oh, well you have to fill out the forms and I said, well I've already filled out the forms. Like this was a routine answer to anyone who applied who I guess they didn't want. So a few weeks later, the principal comes up to me and he says, Mrs. Scarbrough, I understand that you have a master's in reading. I said, that's right. He says well one of the parents told me. He said, I've already called the Town House. He said, we need an extra teacher. I've already called the Town House to ask them to hire you. Well I was going back and forth to Philadelphia and it was a holiday. Maybe it was the Teachers' Convention. So I took the children and I went down to Philadelphia and we stayed maybe an extra day and I came back and the phone rings and I said, hello, They said this is the Town House. I said oh yes. They said, we've been trying to get you for about five or six days. And I said, oh. They said, we have an opening for you at Whittier as a supplemental teacher. I said, oh really. So she says, yes. And I said, well thank you for waiting. And she said Mr. Whitty wanted you and we just waited until you came back. So that's how I was hired.

So from then on, and then at the end of that year, they kept firing all the supplementals as they are still doing now. So the next year, the little bit of money got good to me and that year I tutored, I did home instruction, I went from school to school and had a number of students at Whittier so I went down to the Town House and I met Mr. Shore and I told him that I would like to work if they had any openings so right away, he sent me to Hawthorne and I think I had two of the worst boys in the school system. One was at Hawthorne and the other they couldn't keep two brothers at that school so they sent the other to Eugene Fields so I worked with both of them and after that, they started this Communications Workshop and they hired me to work there as a supplemental almost full time so I was really working almost five hours a day on a part time job so I lost my husband and the same Mr. Shore said to me, Charlotte, you should not continue to work part time. You should work and be salaried and get the benefits. And I said, well the children are young. He said, don't worry about that. That will work itself out. So that's, so then I applied and I was hired as a classroom teacher for one year. Oh, they were going to put me in the kindergarten but interesting now, you know we are having all this enrollment that's low enrollment, they had planned to put me in the kindergarten as a specialist to help the students who were behind at that level. They felt if they got a good head start, they wouldn't have the problems later on.

And when September came, the enrollment was low and they had to drop a regular teacher and that was twelve years ago. So they said they certainly could not hire me in the kindergarten because enrollment was already beginning to show there so they put me in Longfellow. They did save a position and I went into the fourth grade at Longfellow for a year. After that year, they called me and told me they had a reading position in the junior high school. And here again, I told them I had never taught junior high level in my life and they said, don't worry about it. (Which Teaneck system is always like that. If they want you, they'll hire you.) So and I've been there for twelve years and it worked out pretty well. They were right about that. They say if you have teenage children, you can handle that age group and my certification was K through 12. So that's how I was hired.

(I) You mentioned before something about the League of Women Voters. How did you get into that group?

(N) Oh, well when I came here, I had, as I told you, I had joined in Hartford and I said well here's something to get into to meet 'people and I was home. I was not working and I don't like to be idle. And I thought it was a nice way to meet people. So I called or I think I went to a meeting, they had an open meeting I read in the paper and I went to the meeting and I told them that I had joined the League of Women Voters in Hartford and they were very happy to take me in. And a couple of weeks after that, you know, news travels fast in a town at that time. Everyone knew everybody. And they called and asked me would I be treasurer and I said, wow, what a liberal town. Here I have been here for two or three weeks and I am a minority and they ask me to be treasurer, take care of all their money. Well they'd also found out my husband was an accountant and I didn't know the first thing about bookkeeping. That was the reason. I was treasurer of everything, P.T.A. 

(I) Was this a mixed group by the time you joined, were there many blacks?

(N) Not too many. There were about ten. And they eventually dropped out but I stayed in. I was treasurer for about four years and I stayed on the board and then I became secretary and then I was chairman of one of their committees and I did a lot, really very active with the League. I had a lot of friends and we are still friendly together and I learned a lot about the town and that's how I learned a lot. You know I learned and met a lot of people in town. A lot of interesting people in that organization.

(I) Yes, I know that you are very active politically too. What organizations do you belong to or what. .

(N) You know I am really not a political person. I am always, being with the League of Women Voters sort of made me aware of getting out and vote and supporting someone you felt was good. We always, the League always endorses people and so we sort of endorsed people. My husband was very active with Lamar Jones and his campaign, with Jim Jones and his campaign. He was treasurer for all these campaigns and a few other people and so we just seemed to have gotten into the political swing of town between my husband and myself and so that's why we were politically active. And then after he passed, I think I stayed on and I supported a number of political people. I guess maybe the name, the people would just call me to help. But we did stay active in a lot of things in town. And I actively supported Bernie Brooks. I was like one of his campaign managers when he ran, he lost the first time, the second time he won.

(I) Now what about your, do you belong to any social organizations or sororities of whatever?

(N) Well you know social organizations I don't belong to. That's where I said my loophole is. Anything social, no. I like to go to social affairs but I am active with the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Teaneck and I joined the sorority in college and in fact I started the chapter at my college, Penn State, which had no black sororities or fraternities and I was one of the three who organized the chapter and I was the first president of that chapter there at Penn State so I'm active in that when I can be. It is very difficult to be active in a lot of these things when you have children. And I am also in Jack and Jill of America and I joined that. That's a national group. I joined that in Philadelphia when my first son was four, five, just before we moved and they had a chapter in Hartford and they had a chapter here so it was good - another way to meet people. And they had a lot of activities for children. 

(I) Is there anything else that you can tell us about yourself or 

(N) Yeah, about Teaneck, as I've told you, when we first moved to Teaneck, there were like two minority children in each class and I've seen quite an increase of minority in Teaneck. I've sort of enjoyed teaching at Thomas Jefferson. It has been quite a learning experience. Because at Thomas Jefferson it is just like a U.N. and I grew up in a suburban community. There were only six blacks in my graduation class from high school but it was a very homogeneous community. It was WASP, middle class, white and minorities were black. That was the only minority. And I taught school in Philadelphia which was predominantly black or was polarized black. Black in one community, Jewish, but here to see all people living together, harmoniously, when I first came and at Thomas Jefferson they do.

A lot of the teachers at Ben Franklin could not believe one time when I said that they had Hispanics at T.J. They said, there are no Hispanics in Teaneck. I said, what do you mean? So I am so glad I've been able to broaden myself in Teaneck.. I never knew what a Jewish person was. I never lived around a Jewish person. I lived in predominantly, I moved to a predominantly Jewish community and it wasn't difficult for me to adjust. People are people. That's the way I was raised. But for others, it is difficult but my neighborhood seems to be very, very liberal. I've been here for eighteen years, the house next door to me has changed four times and every time a white has moved into the house next door.

The neighborhood has not changed in all the years. When I moved here, we were the first minority. Another one moved down the corner and then another one moved in the middle of the block. The one corner moved. There were two of us here. Then another one came and moved across the street and the three of us have been here for years. Now they are getting ready to move. So I don't know what will come but it has been very stable in our community in all of these years. So I guess I don't know what to say about that. I would like to say when we first moved here, someone told us that Teaneck was a very nice community and minorities, a nice group of blacks, professional blacks, were moving into the community and it would be a nice community to move to when we moved to the New York area. So we were coming up the highway one day and I told my husband that someone told me a friend of ours had moved to Teaneck and that it must be a nice town for them to move there. So he said, can you find it on the map and I said, yes, here it is. It is on this map. So then by chance, we came into Teaneck so when we came in, we came off of Route 4. I guess at Webster Avenue. And we turned left and went into the country club section. Well it was so gorgeous, I said, oh my goodness, what a beautiful town. I said, you mean minorities live here. And I looked all around and there were two or three FOR SALE signs up so my husband said, write down the number. And one said OWNER - INQUIRE WITHIN. He said, well write down the number.

It was late in the day and we had looked in other areas so I jotted down the numbers and I went on back to either Hartford or Philadelphia, I can't remember where I was staying at the time. And he at the time was working here so he came the next day and he called the numbers and they told him to come over to look at the house and one was the owner and the other we went, he went to the real estate office. So when he walked into the house, the owner looked at him and said, oh, Mr. Scarbrough, I wish you told me you were black before you came. I have no qualms about selling you my house but I don't know what my neighbors would say. This was the country club section. The next day, he went to the real estate office. The man again told him the same thing. And the other real estate office told him that the house that they told him to come and see had been sold after he got here. So times have changed. Now the country club section is almost 40% black. I don't think it is 40% black. I was just being facetious. It must be at least 20 or 25% black which is good. Good changes. Also the house at that time that we looked at in the country club section was selling for $35,000. Now I am in real estate, you know, on the side. And now the houses are selling for $165,000 to $195,000. We looked on Columbus Drive and there was one that went up for sale for $210,000 and it has two deposits on it. In Teaneck. Isn't that something.

(I) Charlotte, what about when you got this house here. Did you have a hard time getting this house?

(N) Well now this is the ironical thing about this house. We had looked and we had looked and we really wanted to move on Voorhees Street or Hamilton. We liked that area but there were no houses available (END OF SIDE I - BEGIN SIDE 2) and time was drawing near and the kids had to start school so we, I started combing the newspapers and one day I ran across this house in Teaneck which was advertised in the New York Times and I called and the person answered with a very southern accent. Hello, this is Dr. Crawford and with all the experiences I'd had before; I said uh oh. I don't know where this is. I don't know who he is but if he is a southern white, I might as well forget it. So we told him who we were. We were looking for a house in Teaneck and he says, well, you can assume the mortgage. We are looking for someone who can assume a mortgage. We said, well that is great. We can do that.

We sold our house in Philadelphia. So we came down and, well my husband went to look at the house and Dr. Crawford accepted him graciously and the next day, he called in Connecticut and told me to have my husband call him and we came down and Hillary was about four months old and we came down with Hillary and she, the wife, got out the playpen and put Hillary in the playpen and we looked through the house, we sat down, we had tea or what have you and then they said, well if you want the baby to stay here, we'll keep her. You can go around and look at other houses before you make up your mind. And the house, it was in an all white neighborhood, he said this is the most prestigious neighborhood in Teaneck and you'll be very happy here so we said, well, look, we don't want to be alone in a neighborhood. And he says, and I said, what do you think your neighbors will feel from. all the flack we'd gotten before. And he said, well look, he said, I don't have any qualms about it. And you have the money, your family seems to be the family for the house. He said, the people next door have black friends so 1 don't even care about the neighbors and we settled and here we bought a house from a doctor who was born and reared in Georgia. But the neighbors did turn out to be very nice.

(I) Charlotte, when you moved here, how did you find your neighbors.

(N) I found them to be very receptive. The people next door who he had said had black friends were from Canada so I don't think they had as much prejudice as other people. The people on the other side had six children and needless to say, they were the ministers of the neighborhood. 

(I) Were there any other organizations that you belonged to?

(N) Organizations, well I belonged to the P.T.A., was very active in the P.T.A. My husband was very active in the P.'T.A. And we were on all sorts of committees and he was an officer and I became an officer and you know the whole community sort of was very receptive to each other at that time within this area, in certain areas. Now I understand certain sections of town apparently were not that way. But there were certain people who moved in, I know for yourself, you were active in your P.T.A. right? And this old, old, Teaneck was a very liberal town and I was very pleased about that. I was also active in a number of black organizations. I had been involved with the Urban League in Hartford and I came here and I also seeked out the Urban League here. I had a young baby and my husband was a member, he was on the board of directors, and shortly after he passed and I became a member of the board of directors of the Urban League and we worked to help things, to help better minorities in Teaneck and in the community of Bergen County.

One of the things the League of Women Voters had tried to do, when I first came to Teaneck, was to broaden the minority population into or extend the minority population is the way I should put it, into other towns in the area because they said we can see what's coming to Teaneck, what will happen in Englewood and Hackensack and Teaneck and we feel as though for the enrichment as well as for everyone that we should have minorities in a number of towns and I sat and I listened to them and I said, oh these girls have such great ideas. What happens in Teaneck doesn't happen anywhere else. And they extended themselves and put themselves on the line and asked the other League members in the neighboring towns if they would recruit minorities into their town and make them welcome and they came back and they said, we know what you are talking about. We can see that there might become a problem.

But until we have the problem, I hate to say that minorities in a town is a problem, I am no problem, the other people have the problem and I hate to put it that way, how did they say it, they said until minorities come to our town and seek us out, we would not seek them out and that's just what they said to us. And the League members came back very upset to think that liberal minded progressive women could think like that. Now in Teaneck the school system at this time is 40% black and minority. It might be over 40%. And you cannot blame minority families not wanting to move in an all white community and having their children grow up where there are no other blacks and this is what the League was trying to do years ago was to equalize it so we'd have a number of blacks here, a number of blacks in Ridgefield, in New Milford, in Bergenfield but they told us, nope. And then when you have so many blacks and minorities moving in, then the others want to move out and we did have that. We did have quite an exodus of the Protestant families from our town. And we still have that exodus going on. A lot of the Protestant, the white Protestants I would say, feel uncomfortable in the town. They feel as though their children have no one to play with. So we still have this problem going on. 

(I) Charlotte, you mentioned that you were on the board of directors of the Urban League. Can you tell me something about that?

(N) Yes, well the Urban League has been an integrated organization which goes about to try to improve the job opportunities for minorities. The board is supposed to be made up of business people, community people, minorities and Caucasians. I have seen a change take place in that. You know, when I first moved to Teaneck was in the 60s and everybody was loving everyone and blacks and whites socialized. We were invited to their parties and they were invited to our parties and I've gradually seen a polarization now among the different groups. I don't know the reason but we seem to be going backwards in that area or maybe it was just for a brief pause that we were in the type of area that we were in at that time.

The Urban League board has, in recent years, had difficulty trying to recruit Caucasian board of director members. When a white has, his time is up or his time is terminated, we seem, we go out and we try to recruit more whites to come on the board, it seems as though each year we come in with maybe five minorities and one Caucasian. I personally spoke to some of the board members because I found that some of the white members were bringing in black board members and we looked at them, and sometimes you don't even look at these things because we are a very worthy group and we don" t even look at each other's color which is good but then when you stop to look and you say, hey, what's going on here? It is becoming totally black. And so I said to a white member, listen, why don't you bring in white members and I'll bring in minority members. I said if you are going to bring in minority members then maybe I should try to bring in white members because the way we work here is that we try, each of us, try to go out in our particular community or our organizations and work to help minorities so that they will have better jobs and better opportunities. So this year, under a concerted effort, we did bring on more Caucasians at that time. I have since then not resigned but my time was up and I did not go back on., I felt that the children were all away in school and I should be doing other things with my time.

(I) OK Charlotte, I remember you mentioned some place before that your middle son going to another school. Why didn't he go to the Teaneck High School or was it at junior high school that he stopped?

(N) Yes, he stopped at the junior high school. My little son, as I had said earlier, got along very well with all the students in the school and his cohorts. At that time, they had sort of an accelerated program where you took a test and you were accelerated to start school. He had always been a very smart kid. So at that time, he was under age to start kindergarten unless he was tested so he was tested and he passed the test and went in as one of these accelerated students and each year, he was advanced. They had something like, I guess you remember that program, what was it called, Prototype or something.

Do you recall that Ethele? They had something and they took a certain group of the students and each year they advanced them another year and he was always in this accelerated group. First grade he went to second grade and second grade he went to third grade. Third grade, he was supposed to go to fourth grade but he was also being a smart aleck and he sometimes he would have the class in stitches and try to be a comedienne. Third grade he told me the teacher didn't send him to fourth grade like everyone else. So being the type of parent I am, I called the school and asked why was Neil not accelerated with the rest of the class and the principal said, I thought he was. So he said I'll speak to the teacher. So that weekend, the phone rings and I received a call from the teacher and she said, this is so-and-so and I want you to know that as of Monday, Neil will be accelerated to fourth grade. But I want you to know, Mrs. Scarbrough, that everyone in that, accelerated group is as smart as Neil or smarter. And I said, well I don't know why she would say that to me. But it seemed as though ever since that age group, my son Neil always had a little trouble and he was always aware of the fact or he was treated a little differently than the other students and I had to keep reassuring him that everything was all right. He did have a habit of not doing his work and you'd have to make him but he was very smart and very verbal so he got to junior high school and he was acting up and doing crazy things and he was suspended a number of times.

So I went to the school one day, they had suspended him, and I went up to school to ask the principal or the vice principal if I could look at Neil's records. Maybe there was some problem he had that I don't know about. So he pulls out his records and I see a 150 on his record. So I said, what is that? He said, that's his IQ. I said, that's my son's IQ. Well he sure should be doing better then he is. I said did you know he had a 150 IQ and you have not done anything to call me in to see what we could do to motivate this kid. So I didn't say anything to him. I just left and from then on, I went and I said, my son belongs in a private school. He does not belong here where he is being harassed, he is not getting along. It might be part his fault but I felt there were many other problems. So we took him out and we put him in a private school. He came back to tenth grade. He did not like it here and he himself said he felt that there was a lot of difference between minorities and whites and being a kid with a lot of white friends, he noticed the difference. So he begged me to put him back in private school. So I took him and he went up and he was accepted into every school he applied so he went to Northfield Mr. Hermon and he finished and I just pulled him out and struggled to pay the expenses but that's where he finished. He graduated from that high school and he is graduating from college next month, May.

(I) I think it is good you took him out then. 

(N) Oh yes. He was doing nothing in, Teaneck system and he now has a 3.3 or 3.4 all college average and he had a 3.8 last semester, almost a straight A average. So sometimes you have to do those things.

(I) Yes, I know. Is there anything else you would like to say?

(N) No, I think I've said enough. I really feel that Teaneck was a great town for the kids to grow up in at the time that they grew up and it is changing now but I hope it gets back on its feet. The children had the advantage of everything - basketball, Little League, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, all sorts of activities in the school. And they really enjoyed it. 

(I) Well thanks so much Charlotte. Thanks for sharing this with the Oral History Program of Teaneck. 

(N) You are quite welcome.


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