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: Gertrude Schwimmer
INTERVIEWER: Lisa S. Fattel
DATE OF INTERVIEW:    July 30, 1985
TRANSCRIBER: Jackie Kenney (12/1985)

Previous Interview

Second Interview:

Good afternoon. This is one year later and we just got a chance to listen to the tape and how did you like, we started with your family, we ended up with your family, and we talked about integration in the schools and the community and your role in Teaneck. It is really fascinating. 

(N) Well, I'd forgotten so many things that I said at the last interview that it was really revealing to me to hear it all over again but I noticed that there was one thing that I would like to add. The question, one of the last questions at the interview was, what would you like to see changed in Teaneck, and after the interview was over, I realized that I had left out something that has been bothering me for a while. With all that I think we are a well run town, one lack I think is there and that is that we have no kind of recycling program. It seems to me that if towns like Leonia and Ridgewood can have some kind of effective recycling program, and they are very different by the way, and other towns as well, if towns can have at least a place to take some materials to be recycled, just a place to take them or curbside pickup every other week as Ridgewood has it, these are possibilities. Now if you look at recycling from a dollars and cents point of view, it may not be very productive or if you look at it from the trouble it takes to get it organized, it may not be the thing that is very alluring but I think it is a lack in this town. It is an inconvenience to the individual citizen who tries to recycle and I know I am one of them because I am always bringing papers over to Hackensack and bottles, papers and bottles, lots of them, and it is not effective for what we should be doing because sooner or later, we are all going to have to recycle and it seems to me that the aborted attempt we had a number of years ago with a facility on River Road did not have the kind of attention or thoughtfulness that would make it succeed. Obviously a fenced in place where kids can abuse it by throwing bottles is not going to be satisfactory. Something better could be worked out. It takes a little creative thinking. And I think we have been remiss and I don't mind saying it. Now you can't look at it to make money and you can't look at it to say, it is always going to break even. It may cost money one year and make money another. But you have to work something out in recycling in this town. Even if it is only a depot that is in a place that can be occasionally monitored or monitored in some way or where there are other facilities of the township and as far as pickup, I think there are ways to work it out. Okay?

Now since I heard the tape, a lot of different things have happened and I can make a very, very quick updating on a few facts that I brought up. One of them is that I am not chairwoman of the board of trustees at Bergen Community College and it is even more challenging than it was before. A lot of responsibility but very, very interesting. It is a wonderful college, I still think that. The more I learn about it, the more I think our greatest problem is the people in Bergen County don't know about the kinds of courses, the kinds of facilities and the kinds of programs that we offer there and we have to do a little more of letting the area and the people in the area know what is there. Also since that time, we finished that program and since then we've had, for the Commission on Women, another Women's History Week celebration this year and I was in charge of it and I just want to mention that we had a professor from Jersey City State College with the most marvelous enlarged pictures from a course she had given on generations of women and a discussion that went with it and it was held in the Bergenfield Library but people from all over the county came. There was a standing room only audience. And these were women from all kinds of backgrounds and families, women who worked, women who stayed home and took care of the children, women who were dressed as men because they couldn't be accepted as women to hold jobs and Indian women, black women, Jewish women, Italian women, women from all kinds of backgrounds and the history discussed by this professor was really absolutely fascinating in the picture of women and what they were doing and what they are doing today. Another update, in the League of Women Voters, I've been working this year on the Bergen County League of Women Voters on the charter study and we have as a result of our study endorsed an executive form of government. We hope that the voters will think the same way. Just a little update on some of the things I mentioned before. 

(I) As far as the award that you mentioned,

(N) Oh yes, one more thing, the I think I mentioned in the last one that we were thinking of giving Community Relations awards. We had the first, the Teaneck Advisory Board on Community Relations instituted an award program this year and we had four awards that were given to individuals who've done exceptional work in the field of community relations. And they turned out to be most interesting people. They were Selena Kesekar who's worked with young people on the CROP Walk and in youth groups, has taken youth groups all over and is basically a humanitarian of the broadest type; they were Frank Brown, Jr., a student in the high school who organized a group of musicians with no regard to color or race, only regard to the quality of the music and kept them together from his sophomore year to his senior year; they were the Rev. Bruce Davidson who made his church an open house for every kind of diverse group whether he or the church members approved of the theories or the ideas behind those groups or not, the broadest kind of open house that his church was the place where they were welcome; and the last one was Sen. Matthew Feldman and of course Senator Feldman was a very strong force in the integration of Teaneck schools, in the creation of an Advisory Board on Community Relations and has been a force for good human relations in this township for as long as anyone can remember. So we were honored in honoring them and I thought it might be worth talking about it.

(I) I think you mentioned something you might want to discuss about housing. Was that all discussed already? And anything else in the government. We want to make sure we are thorough. This is one year later, July 30 of 1985 and I am sure as the years go by, people listening to this tape will wonder what else Mrs. Schwimmer is doing. Anything else?

(N) Well I know that all the activities I mentioned before are ongoing. The one thing I think that has taken a great deal of my time this year has been the college, Bergen Community College. But I have been keeping up with all the others. Now the cherub, the Community Housing Resource Board in southern Bergen County is still active but many of its functions have been taken over by the Fair Housing of Bergen County and we are very pleased because we think we gave them a little push in the direction of the southern part of the county. We are still working to educate real estate people as to what their obligations are under the law as far as integration goes and we have a film that is being shown by some real estate people to other real estate people to let them know what they do about selling a house when someone says I DON'T want to sell it to this one or I don't want to rent it to that one or something of that sort. So we are still functioning in that way. But I am happy to say that Fair Housing has taken over some of those functions, some of the other functions in integration in the southern part of the county.

All the other functions are going on. We are still concerned about in the, now I think I may have given it the wrong name, it is the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee to the Superintendent of Schools and that committee is still concerned with adequate representation of women and minority people both in the teaching force and in various classes where there may be a specialized kind of selection and the effort is to see that there is a more even distribution in the classes of minority people and non-minority people.

(I) Thank you very much. I am Lise Fattel and we are continuing the interview that you started with Virginia Stilles. I had the pleasure of seeing you last April at our meeting honoring Dr. Scribner and to see that even though you are not directly involved with education of your children in the school, you still continue paying attention to what's happening. Did you want to comment on that particular evening celebrating the twenty years of integration in Teaneck?

(N) Well I think that evening was what the young people call a love in. Everybody who had worked on the integration it seems the integration question was there or most of the people, I shouldn't say everyone but certainly a large number of those who are still living in Teaneck and it was a very exciting evening. Of course Dr. Scribner was a motivating force and it is interesting to see people continuing their concern for issues that are so important and nobody ever said it was going to be an apple pie. Integration is not easy. It is not easy because people have preconceived notions, preconceived ideas because there are resentments about a lot of different things but I think Teaneck has made a decent effort at it and I think we have to continue it.

(I) I am sure it is thanks to people like you that Teaneck is such a unique town and I want to thank you on behalf of the Oral History of Teaneck for your interest in government and education in local community events and housing and now the project you mentioned on recycling and endless other projects and I wish you luck on the, on being soon a grandmother so that's exciting. I think this will be the end.

(END OF TAPE)

 

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