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Activities Begin To Boom
By Mildred Taylor
Teaneck was a rural community at the beginning of the twentieth century. Only 66 houses existed in this area before 1900. Farmers grew their truck and took it to the New York market. Their wagons were frequently stuck on the long pull up Dan Kelly's hill. Often an entrepreneur with an extra team would pull them out for a fee of 50 cents.
Henry Borden, whose daughter Mrs. Frank Schultz still lives in Teaneck, operated a dairy farm just north of the present Route 4. He leased the property from John Orser, high sheriff of New York, who used the large house on the property as a summer home. The Bordens had about 40 cows, will remembered by old timers. Borden's field, in the area of Bogert, Beaumont and Alicia Avenues, was the town's athletic center where ball games, races and other sports were enjoyed.
A large stock farm was operated by Fiss, Doerr and Carrol on Queen Anne Road south of Cedar Lane. Frank Schultz recalls the horse auctioneers who had a place of business at the Bull's Head Market on 24th Street in New York, Fiss, Doerr and Carrol bought at auction the 400 horses retired by the Fifth Avenue Coach Company when it changed over to mother vehicles.
Progress was coming from every direction before the end of the century. In 1898 the Bergen county Traction Company petitioned for a franchise to operate a trolley line down Fort Lee Road from Leonia to the township line on River Road. Mrs. Lily Thiede Conklin recalls that at Fort Lee and River roads you took a stage coach to the courthouse green in Hackensack. The fare was a nickel.
William P. Degraw, a large property owner who served well as road commissioner, gave the trolley company land on his property in the meadow east of Teaneck Road for turnouts to avoid use of a public road. The trolley was an important factor in Teaneck life until Aug. 4, 1936 when buses took over.
The telephone and the automobile were coming in. In 1902 Wendel Andreas of River Road asked the Township Committee to do something to control the speed of vehicles. An ordinance to prevent immoderate driving was passed soon after.
The telephone company was ignored by the township committee in repeated requests for a 50 year franchise to place wires under ground at De Graw Avenue and Queen Anne Road. After years of controversy, the New York Telephone Company was granted permission in 1913 to put through lines in Fycke's Lane from the corner of Teaneck road 2000 feet in an easterly direction in response to appeals form certain residents. The next year investigation by the town fathers disclosed that a direct wire in Town Hall would cost $63 a year and a party wire $38.25. The police commissioner was authorized to place a telephone in the building and ascertain the cost of four call boxes.
Population was zooming. Between 1900 and 1909, Teaneck saw 256 new homes go up a fabulous increase from the 20 new buildings erected between 1890 and 1990. Population had soared from 768 in 1900 to 2,082 in 1910.
Social life centered in the fire house, the Sunday Schools on Teaneck and Fort Lee Roads and in the Teaneck Social Club at Bogert Street and Teaneck road, today an apartment building. George Ahrens recalls the building of a fire house on Fairview Avenue to replace the one made from a half of a barn brought through the woods from Englewood. Dances were held on the upper floor of the Fairview Avenue firehouse built in 1907.
William Baumont recalls real swinging at the Teaneck Club built in 1906. He has a program from a vaudeville performance given there on election evening Nov. 7, 1910, when his father was president. Other officers were J. H. N. Armstrong, Thomas H. Oliver, J. F. Suppes, W. E. Hazelton, H. G. Lloyd, D. E. Grant, Paul Reynolds, L. C. Armstrong and F. A. Beyer.
Miss Dorothy Fickermann played Beethoven's "Sonata Pathetique," Elmer Hazelton gave a monologue, D. E. Grant and Miss Edna Force presented a sketch called "Dolly's Doublt," Robert Kubie played a violin solo, Fred Coleman gave an Indian club exhibition and Coleman, Seidel, Stio and Denicke appeared as acrobats. There was dancing until daylight!
Baby sitters were unknown in those days. Parents brought their children and put them to sleep on the upper floor of the clubhouse. In addition to an auditorium with a stage, the club had reading rooms and a bowling alley. Membership and activities fell off during the World War I, the mortgage was foreclosed and the building became the four-family apartment house it is today.
Teaneck Public Library
840 Teaneck Road, Teaneck, NJ 07666
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