Dolores Davidson Most

Dolores Davidson Most
Dolores Davidson Most

Photo courtesy of NPS Intern Barbara Krasner

Born in 1929, Dolores Davidson Most has been a devoted Patersonian. She bears the distinction of being the last surviving member of a female police force from the 1950s, a time when police academies did not exist and folks looked down their noses at divorced women. Most made it all work, while raising two young daughters on her own.

In her interview, Most recalls her family's cold-water flat on Lewis Street. She recalls daily life taking cream cheese-and jelly sandwiches to the Acre for her own picnic lunch, roller-skating and sleigh-riding, especially on 22nd Avenue, and marveling at people's homes with actual bathtubs. To this day she can still name her neighbors when she and her family lived on 21st Avenue.

She discusses helping out at the Red Cross, working on a farm, and being a member of the Junior Commando Group during World War II, helping to collect scrap metal and paper for the war effort. She talks about her drive to earn a better living for her family, taking night courses at Central High School to enable her to the next level at her job.

Most's story is one of drive and survival in a time of local and national change.

 
 

Interview Transcript

Interviewer:

So, today is Thursday, November 13, 2014 and it is 2:45 pm. This is Barbara Krasner, oral history intern at Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park and on behalf of the National Park Service, I am interviewing Dolores Most.

Most:

Right.

Interviewer:

How are you today?

Most:

Good.

Interviewer:

Good.

Most:

Good.

Interviewer:

So, since we’ve already gone through the forms, you agree to donate this memoir to the park.

Most:

Yes.

Interviewer:

Yes, okay. It’ll be used for informational and educational purposes. So, let’s just start out broadly. Tell me about your connection to Paterson.

Most:

Well, I was born in South Paterson. I was a home delivery, and lived in Paterson until 1965, about there, then I moved up to Wayne, and although I lived in Wayne, I was working in the downtown, in the center of Paterson, 111 Washington Street, as a police officer. And I worship in Paterson at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Broadway and E. 18th Street. My parents lived on 21st Avenue and East 26th Street, so other than it was just strictly a bedroom community and where my girls went to school, I shopped in, everything was done in Paterson.

Interviewer:

So what year were you born?

Most:

1929, I’m 85.

Interviewer:

Okay, and tell me about your parents.

Most:

All right. Both my parents, my dad was a blue-collar worker. My mother graduated School No. 9, the eighth grade. She never went to high school. My father only went as far as the sixth grade. I don’t know the whole story on my father…

Interviewer:

What was his name?

Most:

James Davidson. When I say the whole story: My dad was born in 1903. His mother, Margaret, passed away in 1909, and his dad, Robert, passed away in 1911. And Dad was the child of a second marriage. He had a half-sister, who was about 11 or 13 years older than him at least. Dad told me that when his mother passed, his father put him in the Paterson orphanage, and I always wanted to check those records. Well, last year, I’m a trustee with the Passaic County Historical Society up at Lambert Castle. We got the records from the Paterson orphanage, and I went through them, and I couldn’t find my father’s name. At one time I went to the public library and I was trying to research my grandfather, but there were two Robert Davidsons and both had sons. I do know that my father’s father came from Glasgow, Scotland and when he immigrated to the United States, he landed in Boston, because I have his bill of lading, or whatever they called it. How he got down to Paterson, I don’t know. My dad’s mother, all I know is that, through his half-sister, my aunt, they had come up from Philadelphia. Now and she also was from Scotland, but I believe she was from Edinburgh. And her maiden name was Sargent and that’s my dad’s middle name, James Sargent, and he had a sister through that marriage. But I never knew what happened to his sister, Margaret, who was named after his mother. Back in the ‘70s, the only thing I knew, she was an adult, she was friends with this gentleman and his sister, and they would go down to Florida in the winter. Part of her going, they’d go to my Aunt Grace’s house to say their goodbyes, and then when she came back in the spring, she’d visit. Well, he came back in the spring without Margaret. And he said Margaret got sick down in North Carolina and passed away and he buried her down there and he continued driving down to Florida. So I, you know, I even checked, because they lived in Morris County, I checked for my dad. I also found the hospital, the funeral director, and the cemetery. What my dad did with those papers, I don’t know. Because when I went through his things, there really wasn’t anything, other than his dad’s, which I have, and a paper with his mother’s date of birth and date of death. The only thing interesting I found out when my dad passed, I was over at Minchin’s in South Paterson, funeral director, talking to Mrs. Fitzpatrick at Holy Sepulchre, because Dad said he wanted to be buried with his mom, and my dad even went out and bought a headstone sometime after he came back from Oklahoma, but that’s another story. And they’re saying, no, we don’t have a Margaret that was, you know, interned [sic] on that date in ’09, and then she goes, oh wait a minute, we have a Margaret that was interned [sic] in ’11. She originally was buried in Laurel Grove. Now she was Roman Catholic. Evidently, Robert, my grandfather, was Protestant, so that when she died, he put her over there. How families go, when she passed away her daughter, who was an adult and married and had a family, had her mother disinterred and put in Holy Sepulchre. So that’s something that we didn’t know, but I found out later on.

Interviewer:

Do you know what your parents did for work in Paterson?

Most:

My dad…I know my grandmother, my maternal grandmother, worked in the silk mills and I think my mother did for a time.

Interviewer:

And what was your mother’s name?

Most:

My mother’s name was Bessie. Bessie Bauman. B-a-u-m-a-n. She was the oldest of four children, and when she was eight or nine years old, my grandfather on that side passed away, so my grandmother, I think, went back to work. My mother, who just graduated grammar school, probably was left to care for the kids. Why Dad only went to the sixth grade, I’m not sure. The only thing I know, and the story he told, is that when he was around eleven or twelve, which would make it sixth grade, his half-sister Grace took him out of the orphanage to live with her and her husband, and I did find that on one of the censuses, but that was for him to watch her children. She had thirteen children in all, but only three survived to adulthood, and she had two marriages, and she was still in contact in Scotland with my paternal grandmother’s relatives, but all her papers were lost when she died. Her daughter didn’t keep them or didn’t pass them on to her brother. So, there’s a lot of loose ends. The only thing I feel is that my grandfather Davidson probably wasn’t a laborer, because any pictures you saw, the one of my dad, a tintype when he looked about three or four, he had spats and very fancy clothes. And even a picture of him when he was a baby with his mother and father, the clothes were fine, they didn’t appear to be workers’ clothes. So I figured he was more than just a common laborer. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. I don’t know.

Interviewer:

There’s no way for you to know.

Most:

Well, I just have to go, you know, start searching. I have to contact Trenton to get his death certificate and I don’t know how much I could learn up in Boston. I think that’s where he came into the States. But you know when you start doing your genealogy, that’s a full-time job.

Interviewer:

I’m a genealogist myself.

Most:

Well, then you know.

Interviewer:

I do know.

Most:

And I don’t know where to start, number one. So I thought, well, okay, I can get the death certificates or that, because I have no information, what his mother’s, my grandfather’s parents’ names were or anything. Other than I say on one census, I did find, but the thing of it was the one Robert Davidson had a son Robert and then the other Robert I believe had a son James, but there was no Margaret, so I don’t know what happened with Margaret. But I’m an only child, so it all ends and stops with me, because my daughters have no interest in searching, you know. But, as I say, I was born over in South Paterson on Eagle Avenue. It was a home delivery. And that house is still standing. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with Main Street, Brooks Avenue…

Interviewer:

No.

Most:

Well, anyway, Eagle Avenue comes off, there’s a little park and that house, it sits right there.

Interviewer:

Do you remember the number?

Most:

No, I don’t. All I had [was] a picture somewhere of my, I guess, it was my aunt and a girlfriend of hers by a fence on Eagle Avenue, and my diaper’s hanging from the line up on the third floor. But then we moved to Sussex Street and I guess we moved there when I was around three. And we only stayed there till I was a little over five, because I started grammar school there in School 9, in Kindergarten, but then I went to School 16, and I was in School 16 until I was promoted from the sixth grade. And then people on this side of Madison Avenue had to go to School 15 and people on the right hand side of Madison Avenue had to go to School 25. And then we were all reunited when we went to Eastside.

Interviewer:

So you started at PS 9…

Most:

Right but only probably a month or two and then…

Interviewer:

And then you went to 16?

Most:

School 16, yes…

Interviewer:

And then to…

Most:

School 15…

Interviewer:

And then Eastside.

Most:

Yeah, then Eastside. I graduated School 15 in ’43 and Eastside in ’47.

Interviewer:

Okay, now, what do you remember about the mills?

Most:

Well, I remember my dad talking about it. See, I guess somewhere along the line when I was maybe six, seven, somewhere in there, and he talked about the strike but that doesn’t make sense with his age (Note: It could have been the 1933 strike), but I’m sure there was more than one strike.

Interviewer:

Yeah, there were.

Most:

You know. He worked in Van Raalte’s mill and when we would go down Getty Avenue, he would, oh it’s that big mill on the left hand side going into Clifton and Passaic, he’d always mention that mill. But he went to work for the Erie Railroad somewhere when I was around maybe seven, eight, and he was the gate man over on Railway Avenue in South Paterson. Just down from what was Chappy’s Diner, because my mother would let me walk over with his lunch. That was when children were allowed to walk the streets, of course. And then with the outbreak of World War II, he went to work for Wright’s as a polisher. And I do remember that when he went to work at Wright’s, the pay was a lot better, the food on our table, like fruit, was there that weren’t there all the time. But then after World War II, then he went back to the railroad again. But we lived on Lewis Street, which was a four-room cold water flat. No front door. Had to go up the back steps.

Interviewer:

Oh, interesting.

Most:

Yeah. There was a, it was a, I guess it was originally coal but then they made an oil stove in the kitchen. There was a kerosene stove in the living room that only got lit when we had company. And I slept in the front bedroom. My parents slept in the back bedroom, so they got heat from the kitchen stove. And I went to bed with a hot water bottle and extra blankets, and many a time that damn hot water bottle would leak.

Interviewer:

Oh, wow.

Most:

Because there was, the way that the window was and the closet, it made an alcove. My mom, I still have my mother’s cedar chest, she had her cedar chest in that alcove for storage, and when things wouldn’t fit in the ice box, it went on the cedar chest to keep it cold.

Interviewer:

Ah.

Most:

But these are the things that you remembered.

Interviewer:

So how long did you live on Lewis?

Most:

I married in ’48 and I moved out of there in the fall of ’48. And we lived in a three-room furnished flat first off at 7-9 Park Avenue. Then we went to 51 Fair Street and that’s where my oldest girl was born in 1952, and then moved out of there in the fall of ’52 over to Martin Street, which was Teshon Village, it was city housing. We were there, that’s when my second child was born. She came 15 months later from Carolyn, and I was there till, we were there, I guess, until ’60. And then I got a flat on East 30th Street and originally the girls were going to School 15, but then when we moved to 30th Street, they went to School 20. And, you know, then I’m going to say, I forget what grade the girls were in, but it seemed when I went for parents’ night, and the teachers would say, you know, you really don’t need to be here. Your daughters, and this came from both teachers, when I say, your daughters are on the A side, and we keep them up to the curriculum level. We don’t get a chance to stimulate them too much, because we’re spending time with this side to bring them up to grade level and also the English language, because there was a lot of Hispanics then moving into town. So that’s why I said, well, to me, I mean, I went to School 15, I thought it was an excellent, my girls are going to school but they’re not getting an education so then I rode up and down the Eastside section looking form rooms, because I knew School 20 was a good…

Interviewer:

Oh, okay.

Most:

…school. We were there till Carolyn graduated eighth grade and then, I guess maybe three or four months before she graduated, we moved up to Wayne and we bought a house.

Interviewer:

And when was that?

Most:

Let’s see. Carolyn, I got to think…’65, I think, the fall of ’65. Somewhere in ’65. And then, you know, as I say, both girls went to Wayne schools.

Interviewer:

What was your mother’s, oh you said, Bessie.

Most:

Bessie. My dad was James.

Interviewer:

All right. What do you remember about the schools? So you said School 15 was a good school when you…

Most:

Yes. School 16. In fact, you know, I read in the paper that School 16 had been demolished, and I noticed it going out one day Madison Avenue and I thought, ugh, 16’s gone. It was a good school. It was a close school. I can remember most of the teachers’ names to this day, and the way the classrooms were, you slid back the doors, they were wooden doors with slate, which made an auditorium, you know, as I say, I think, I’d have to get in my mother’s cedar chest, I think down in the bottom I still have, my mother kept all my report cards…

Interviewer:

Oh.

Most:

…and, yeah. Rosie Grant, who’s president, Paterson Education Fund, when I, she was quoted in the paper about School 16. It won’t, it’ll be dedicated in ’16. I told, I called her and said, guess what, I’m an old student from there and then one of the other young men from church, he went there, so she’s going to put a newsletter piece, PDF, saying it, you know, maybe right through the year, our memories and then she said, I want you to be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, so hopefully I live that long. But anyway, the, if you got sick, the janitor brought you home, walked you home. In those days, a mother sent a child to school and said if you’re sick, let them send you home. That’s what happened. I remember going there. We went for a dental plan, we had to go down to Grand Street, there was a school there, where 401 Grand Street is now, that was the school dentist.

Interviewer:

Oh.

Most:

And I remember walking down there to the dentist. Now that’s quite a jaunt, when you think Madison Avenue to Grand Street…

Interviewer:

…and little legs…

Most:

…and little legs, yeah, climbing over the snow. I remember, you know, the pile of snow and then we kids would walk along the top of it. And I remember on the corner Gray Street and 21st Avenue there was a bar, there’s still a bar there, but they had windows up at the top with glass, stained glass with smaller panes, and I picked up a snowball and threw it, and I broke a glass, and I was afraid to go home. I sneaked home. I wouldn’t go out of the house because the guy caught me and I knew he was going to chase me and I was so scared what would happen, you know, because my mother couldn’t afford, you know, my parents couldn’t afford to buy a new window.

Interviewer:

Wow.

Most:

But, you know, it all worked out. But, you know, I remember, as I say, the kids, we were close, and I remember the boys in their corduroy knickers and high-top black boots and when they walked, they squished. And sleigh-riding down 22nd Avenue, which was Virginia Avenue. From Madison Avenue, we’d go all the down to what was Beckwith Avenue, which is no longer there, you know, because of Route 80…You know, it’s just, you remember all these things. I remember my parents going out. My mother, when I came home, I had to change my clothes and put on play clothes and then she locked the door, because as I said, we were in a cold-water flat. We only had a toilet. There was no bath tub, there was no shower, and she would wash up and then at five o’clock she’d be down at the gate waiting for my father to come home. That was the ritual. And then come upstairs and have dinner. And I had better be around, and I knew by my mother’s call when I had to get there, because of the infliction [sic] in her voice.

Interviewer:

What did you do for bathing then?

Most:

Well, there was a stationary tub alongside of the sink. My mother boiled pots of water and put them in the stationary tub. We had cold water. And then when my legs got too long that they were over the sink, then they bought a galvanized tub and she’d fill that up and then later on, they bought a screen between the kitchen and the living room and my father would go sit in the living room and then I’d stand, I’d sponge-bathe. The only time I got a bath in the tub was when I went to my grandmother’s for the weekend, because it just wasn’t, you know, like when you think about it, it was part of life. We, I wasn’t the only, you know, a friend of mine, who was a little older, they had a bath tub, but other friends of mine, they didn’t, you know, they didn’t have a shower. They just the, in fact, if my memory serves me right, one of my friends, where their toilet was, I think those floors were still dirt, packed-down dirt.

Interviewer:

Oh, interesting.

Most:

Yeah, yeah, on Lewis Street. Yeah. But we played out on the street. Girls played, the guys played.

Interviewer:

What did you play?

Most:

Mumblety-peg. There was a house there that had like a stucco or cement sign. That’s where we’d throw the ball and you threw the ball and you’d yell out somebody’s name and they had to catch it and then you all froze and I don’t remember what they call it, but I even remember roasting potatoes in the fire in the gutter. But as I say, every week either my mother or the woman downstairs went out and swept those gutters and kept the front of the house clean, which is unheard of today…

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

…in most neighborhoods. But now churches go around cleaning up the neighborhoods. I did it at St. Paul’s. The city several years ago provided us with brooms and bags and I’m there cleaning a woman’s gutter and, you know, the sidewalk and she’s sitting there watching me and that was the end of it. I put my shovel down and my minister said, “Why?” And I said, “Why? She’s going to sit here and watch me pick up her garbage? I’m not doing it, I’m sorry.” You work with people, I believe in working with people together, and always have.

Interviewer:

So, your neighbors, your schoolmates…

Most:

They all lived within the block. I remember when I had measles and then they used to post it on your front door…

Interviewer:

…for quarantine…

Most:

…for quarantine. I remember, I’d sit in the window on the cedar chest, crying, because the kids would run on the other side of the street holding their noses. And I remember a young boy up the street having polio and visiting him in the iron lung when I was, I think I still was in School 16 at the time.

Interviewer:

Did you notice any ethnic differences?

Most:

Well, that whole, ethnic? I could name every family on Lewis Street between 21st Avenue and 22nd Avenue. I was the only, my family was the only American. The woman downstairs, they were from Belgium. There were old maids next door to me, they were Irish descent. Their family all lived in Hawthorne. And then next to them was a family, American, I don’t know whether Mr. Noteboom was born, I think he came from Holland, I’m not sure. And then there was an Italian, and an Italian, and then another English family, and English families up to the corner. On that side of the street there were two Italian clubs. One down one end, and one like caddy-corner from my house. And I remember there was one family Verkerke, because I played with the granddaughter, Marjorie, but I think that was the only American family. All the rest were Italian. I can rattle off names, you know, to this day. My best friend was Italian, and at that time, they lived in three rooms with just a toilet. She was the youngest girl and it was three rooms with a cold stove and there was a cot that opened up. The two brothers, an older brother who was an adult and Petey was a teenager. The mother and father slept in one bedroom with the grandchild. And then the other bedroom, four sisters slept. That was the way it was.

Interviewer:

Yup, yup. Absolutely.

Most:

And nobody questioned. People next door was a big family. But their house was two-storey. Their bedrooms were upstairs and that was, I don’t remember whether they had a bath tub or what, I don’t remember that at all. I just remember that the bedrooms were upstairs.

Interviewer:

Did you ever go on family picnics or take trips to the Great Falls?

Most:

Well, my aunt lived at 516 Main Street and I would walk over there…

Interviewer:

Is this Grace?

Most:

No, Aunt Dot, my mother’s sister, Dot. Aunt Grace lived over in South Paterson. You got to realize that my dad was 26 when he married my mom. My mom was 17, really. She married in February, had me in June; in July, she had just turned 18. Aunt Grace and Uncle Frank lived over in South Paterson on Sussex Street. I don’t remember too many outings, because Aunt Grace didn’t want my dad to marry my mother. And the fact that she was Protestant and he was Roman Catholic, and he told me many years later that my aunt had sneaked me to St. Boniface Church, which was down on, not Jackson Street, the next one, Spring Street? Anyway, to have me baptized, even though I was baptized as an Episcopal. Someday I’m going to check that, because that church is no longer there. I’ll check those records sometime just to see. But I mean they taught me all the Roman Catholic prayers. I had my own rosaries as a child. I remember I had the little nun doll. I wish I had kept that, today that would be worth a fortune. But there was a lot of, I mean, I remember my dad taking me to see Aunt Grace and my mother sitting at the table crying.

Interviewer:

Aw.

Most:

You know, but, my mother was very close with her mother. My Grandma Cooper, that was my true grandma. And she came down every Saturday, got off the bus on the corner of Lewis and 21st Avenue, and we would have lunch, and she would take me downtown. But my Aunt Dot, who lived on Main Street, she had three boys, and I’d walk over and we’d walk up to Garret Mountain to Barbour’s Pond to swim and picnic.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. So it was like, and I remember of all places to picnic, I remember, my mother would send me out with bologna sandwiches or cream cheese and probably jelly sandwiches where the Paterson Boys and Girls Club is. That was a little triangle. That would be Beckwith Avenue and 21st Avenue, there was a little park there, and I would go down to the park and have a picnic. I remember that as a kid. But that, it would be by myself or maybe with a girlfriend. But, then you had Circle Pool in the summer when I was in high school and a group of us would go to Circle Pool. When I graduated School 15 and went to Eastside, Flossie quit school. She was about nine months, ten months older than me. She never went to high school, and she wasn’t in my eighth grade class either. So, our friendship kind of waned then. I pal’ed around with kids up the other side of 21st Avenue and they were all Irish or English background. But that’s where, you know, it just, you know, you went to Circle Pool and the guys, the girls and the guys, they, most of the guys, the girls were older and a lot of the fellows were older. Most of the fellows would be like you’re younger than me or almost a year older than me. We all pal’ed around, you know, down to the Feast of St. Anthony’s or they had a feast down on Gray Street, we went down there, that would be alongside of the Boys Club now. There was an Italian Club there. Paterson, 21st Avenue was all Italian. And I never learned to speak the language, although I tried, and with my first husband, he was of Italian descent. And I would read the newspaper in Italian to my in-laws, my father- and mother-in-law and I could get the gist of the conversation, but I never could speak it. I even went to Italian movies with English subtitles, but something between the ear and the brain didn’t match.

Interviewer:

So there was an Italian movie theater in Paterson?

Most:

No, on 21st Avenue was the Capitol Theater, and that’s a clothing store today. But they, once a week, or couple of weeks, they had an Italian film with English subtitles, and I would go to that, you know, with him. But my first husband was Italian, his sisters and their husbands lived in the corner house on 21st Avenue and Lewis Street and his parents lived across the street. So basically, I was always immersed in the Italian, what’s the word I want, not heritage, but customs or ways.

Interviewer:

Culture.

Most:

Culture. In fact, a lot of people used to take my mom for Italian because she had dark, dark brown hair almost black, and brown eyes, where my dad was sort of dirty blond with blue eyes. So they often, and they also, people take me for Italian sometimes. [phone rings]. I had a friend that had surgery this morning, so let me see. [phone sounds] But you know it’s, and I remember when I first started dating, after my divorce, you know…

Interviewer:

How long were you married?

Most:

I was married to George from ’48, eight years. [phone continues to beep]. I’ll do that later. I married him in ’48, we divorced in ’56. And, that’s when I was living in Teshon Village, which is now the Government of Paterson Towers on Martin Street and 20th Avenue. They’re the three buildings that the Catholic Diocese put up.

Interviewer:

Do you remember going to Hinchliffe Stadium for any reason?

Most:

Oh yeah, all the time. I remember my dad taking me there to watch the, there was a football team called the Panthers and our gym teacher from School 16 played for the Panthers or had played. But many times we’d walk to the Falls or, you know, my grandmother lived up in Totowa at the time and we’d go up to Hinchcliffe [sic] Stadium. And of course, you had the Eastside football games, I was there for them all the time. And then, of course, the big Thanksgiving Day. A lot of my recreation as a young teen till I was maybe 16, 17, when I met my first husband, we used to go over to the Paterson Rec for roller-skating on a Friday night. It was movies and roller-skating. You ended up, you know, people don’t realize that I, somebody gave me an argument the other day and I said, no, you’re wrong. You had the Capitol, the Rialto, the Plaza—those were neighborhood movies. Rialto was in South Paterson on Main Street. The Plaza was up on Union Avenue. Then downtown you had the State, the Rivoli, the Majestic, the Regent, the US, the Fabian, and the Garden.

Interviewer:

Wow.

Most:

That’s how many movies we used to have in Paterson.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

You know? And at the Majestic, they would have vaudeville. And when I was in my early teens, my dad got an extra job there as an usher, so he would sneak me in to see it. And my uncle married a woman that was a cashier at the US theater and she’d give me passes to go to the movies. I was quite a movie buff when I was a kid. And I remember, and also, Nancy Drew mysteries. My mother would give me an allowance, I’d get on the bus and I’d go down to the five-and-ten and, which was Kresge’s, and buy the new Nancy Drew mystery book. I was an avid reader. There was a library on 21st Avenue between, I mean, I’m sorry, Madison Avenue, between 21st Avenue and 20th Avenue, and that’s where I spent my summers. My mother would send me to the library. It was cooler there, and I’d bring home four or five books a week to read. And at night we’d play games. We’d play, my dad played solitaire a lot, and I, you know, learned it from him, or we’d match pennies. He’d save his pennies, and we’d each take a handful of pennies. You’re shaking your head, you know how to match them?

Interviewer:

No, I’m just listening.

Most:

Okay, basically you’d have like a roll of pennies. And you’d take odd or even. So, if you had even, and it was two tails, you took my penny and I took your penny and they were gone and we'd put them all back in a roll. We played Monopoly, we played pick-up sticks, we played I learned football from him that he would play with cards, we would listen to the radio, and he would listen to football games on Sunday, he had this board in front of him that he would set up like a football field and he had metal pins and, you know, pins for the goal posts, and pins for the yardage and as they were making the plays, he'd move the pins. And that's how I learned football. That was before I went to high school, I guess, just about.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

Yeah. But I remember my parents had some friends over to play pinocle and I never learned that.

Interviewer:

Was that like a Saturday night thing, or...

Most:

Yeah, yeah, but on Monday night, we would, my mother and Mrs. Noteboom, we'd go to Mrs. Callahan's on the other side of 21st Avenue and the women would listen to Monday night theater and crochet or embroider and then at 9 o'clock the tea pot would come out. The Ritz crackers or saltines and we'd have those Kraft sliced cheeses and plain cookies or pound cake and then Tuesday night they would be at our house, the women, and then on Friday night, we'd be at Mrs. Noteboom's and even after I had my girls, when she'd go to Mrs. Callahan's, I'd get the girls in their pjs and that and I would bring them to Mrs. Callahan's and put them on the bed and they'd go to sleep. They'd help me carry them out to the car and I'd drive home. But that was, you know, very family-oriented [coughs]. Excuse me. Friends were [coughs] a very important part of your make-up.

Interviewer:

You were a single mom, right?

MostL

Yeah. My girls were two and one when we separated.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

And I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't been for my mother and father, you know, my parents lived on 21st and 26th, so she would get the bus and come down to my house in the morning to watch my kids when I got in my car to go to work. Mom had a routine. On Wednesdays she'd go to Totowa to visit Grandma. You know, during the day, and we had a dear friend who passed away in May. He worked with Continental Can on Getty Avenue and he would come over the morning my mother was going up to see Grandma and he would take her in his car, so she wouldn't have to lug things on the bus and, you know, that was very important. And like Carolyn was already in grammar school, in the kindergarten, so this had to be '57. My grandmother was terminally ill with cancer. My mother would take the bus up with my daughter Lori and I made arrangements with, it had to be '58, '59, I made arrangements with Paterson Taxi to meet my daughter by the house and take her up to Ryerson Avenue where my grandmother lived. I would have to pay, it was once a week or once a month, whatever. And then the one day Carolyn said to me, "Mommy, he had another man in the car and he didn't go the way I know." So I reported it and that stopped that, you know. But at three, she was very observant and one day when we were going up to my grandmother's and I'm driving, and we went past the Falls, and I'll never forget this, she goes, "Mommy, Mommy!" "What's the matter, honey?" "Somebody turned the tap off," because there was no water coming...

Interviewer:

Yeah...

Most:

...from the Falls. So I often think I ought to write that to Readers Digest, because I think that just shows you, you know, the minds of the child.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

But, no, we, the, I had, I didn't have a relationship, they didn't have a relationship with their father, but I did continue a relationship with his sisters and my mother- and father-in-law until I remarried and then my second husband adopted the girls. They were twelve and thirteen at the time and I said I don't think we could do it. But I, you know, warned him that when they hit sixteen or so, they may want to find out, so he was prepared for that, but they never did. They never did.

Interviewer:

Tell me about the shopping in Paterson.

Most:

Okay, on 21st Avenue you had an A&P. I can still smell the Eight O'Clock Coffee, when you ground the beans, next to it, there's a little store and that was like a fish market and then next to that was Rosie's produce, you know, vegetables, and then next to that was Schagen's store, it wasn't a shoe store, but then next to that was the meat market, which was the butchers, and then on the corner was Mickiewicz’s dry goods store, that was the corner of 19th and 21st Avenue, and then up the corner was Kings, which was a general store, you know, a clothing store, where I went to work, I guess, when I was fifteen or so. On the other side, you know, we had Giannelli's down the other way. There was a diner, Bill's Diner, that was on 21st Avenue that went 24/7 all during the war and I remember a lot of people going to work at Wright's [Curtiss-Wright], because where I lived two blocks away from the plant and I remember I had a collie dog and my dad and I would walk him, because it was where the test cells (?) are today and those are those square buildings that are now used for storage, and that was during the war when people would come over, they'd say, how do you stand the noise? And we'd say, what noise? Because the engines they tested them so many hours, but if they stopped the engines in the middle of the night, it would wake, not me, but it would wake my parents up, because something wasn’t right.

Interviewer:

Right, right, right.

Most:

But there was a lumber yard there, before they built a lot of that up, Wright’s up, I was only maybe seven or eight and my dad would take the collie over there to run. And somebody took him one day and never did see him again.

Interviewer:

Oh.

Most:

Because there were guys that sat, there was a store on the corner, how about it, mister, want to sell the dog? No, he said, my daughter, you know, would kill me. But, you know, we'd sleigh ride, we rollerskated. I was always on my skates and 20th Avenue was like real nice tar, of course, there weren’t the cars there are today, we'd roller skate there and we'd roller skate on 21st Avenue or even 22nd, because 22nd was for sleighriding.

Interviewer:

And were these the kind of roller skates that had the leather straps?

Most:

The leather strap, and the key, oh yeah. You tighten them. I think my dad bought me skates for the rink for my thirteenth birthday and he, we, took the train into Passaic and there was a sports store, an Army Navy store, and he bought me my first shoe roller skates, and my case was a bright red metallic.

Interviewer:

Hmmm.

Most:

I remember that.

Interviewer:

Do you remember the department stores?

Most:

Well, you know, you had downtown, Conners was like "the" place, so I didn't go there until I was in my twenties, but downtown, I would take the girls on Main Street, I mean on Market Street, right off of Main Street, there was a children's store. I think it was called Grossman's where I bought the girls some if their things. W.T. Grant on the corner of Van Houten and Main was the best store to buy children's things. And then lower Main Street, which was Jacob's 29...

Interviewer:

Uh-huh.

Most:

They had the best curtains in the world. And then at least once a week, the Port Arthur was on that triangle of Broadway, West Broadway, and lower Main. Get on the bus and go down to Port Arthur, then buy a quart of chow mein, get on the bus, and bring it home for dinner. And they opened up the second Chinese restaurant on Market Street and Clark, so it was up on, but that was like really fancy, you didn't go there too often.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

Yeah. There was always a candy store and I remember on the corner of 21st Avenue and Lewis Street was Stassi's drug store and on 19th and 21st was Post's and he had country, he had Country Club ice cream, Stassi's just had drugs, so we'd go there.

Interviewer:

Is that, you know, the kind of store that had a phone booth in it?

Most:

Oh, yeah.

Interviewer:

The counter?

Most:

The counter, oh yeah, the counter, the stools, yeah. And I don't know whether you're familiar with Guernsey Crest ice cream, a lot of people don't remember that, but that small store next to Rosie's, Clark, that owns, the family owns Guernsey Crest, he opened up a little ice cream store and it had two or three stools, maybe one table, but you can got walkaway sundaes, and they were 17 cents. A cardboard bowl and you got scoops, you got three scoops of ice cream with whipped cream and whatever topping you wanted for 17 cents. And my parents said, what do you think, should we have a sundae tonight? And then I'd go down, buy it, and walk it home. With no toppings, it was only 12 cents.

Interviewer:

Did you ever have to run any errands for your parents?

Most:

All the time. I went to the stores all the time and had to go down to the ice house and get the ice with the wagon down on 21st Avenue.

Interviewer:

So the ice wasn't automatically delivered?

Most:

No, no, no. We had to go and get it.

Interviewer:

How big were the blocks?

Most:

I think a 25-cent piece then was like maybe a foot and a half by, maybe about, 15, 16 inches.

Interviewer:

And did that go into a tray...

Most:

It went into the top of the refrigerator that had a tube and then there was a base in the bottom where the water drained. If you forgot to change it, then when you got home, there'd be water all over the floor and you'd have hell to pay.

Interviewer:

How often did you have to do the ice?

Most:

Well, again, probably once a day to be on the safe side.

Interviewer:

Wow.

Most:

You know, you just dump the water down the sink and yeah, the ic-a box.

Interviewer:

Yeah, the ic-a box. Yeah.

Most:

But I remember it was a 25-cent piece and I think for a while there used to be a card that we put in the window for Dubin’s (?) and we'd get bread delivered. And I think even with the ice, there might have been an ice cart that started to deliver.

Interviewer:

What about milk?

Most:

No, don't remember milk. I remember the milk man in '52, '53, because I had him when I living over on Martin Street, but prior to that, we just went and bought our milk. But I remember the junk man with his horses. We had a big yard and my dad used to plant, you know, garden, and I had to come out with the shovel, the coal shovel, and the scoop, and pick up the horse manure and bring it into the yard and throw it onto the ground. My dad would turn it over and I remember the tar trucks that would lay down tar. We'd run after them and grab the tar and chew it.

Interviewer:

Oh, my God.

Most:

But it was supposedly tooth-whitening, you know, it was like gum.

Interviewer:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Most:

These are the things, yeah, that's what you did. And we're here, you know, we're here.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

My dad, you know, he died at 87, 88. He had, I bet you he ate bacon and eggs two and three times a week. And, in fact, everything was fried in bacon fat, you know, when you fried up bacon, you saved the fat in a can or in a jar and that's what you used for your, but I remember my mother would buy a pound of chop meat...

Interviewer:

And that's an old term, because most people today don't know what that is.

Most:

No.

Interviewer:

That's how I know it.

Most:

And her hamburgers were only this big and that thick, but Dad got two, she got two, and I got one. And she would make mashed potatoes and canned vegetables. Not too much on cooking fresh. It was mostly canned and she'd also open up a can of stewed tomatoes and mash them and put butter and salt and pepper. And then slice of bread, Wonder Bread, butter it, never butter, it was oleo, Good Luck Oleo, I remember her mixing it in the bowl and she’d save the wrapper and make it into a block and put it back in the box and put it in the ice box. And people would come to visit us and then they'd say, Oh, Bessie, where did you get the butter? Because what she would do is she’d slice it like the quarters. I'd never eat oleo and I’ve never eaten oleo. But I do remember, too, over where the firehouse is on Getty Avenue now, the building next to it, we used to go buy baked goods and day-old bread. It was, right now the name of the place misses me. But that, you know, when my dad worked for the railroad, don't you ever cross those tracks, because the railroad cops know who you are and if you ever do, they're going to nab you. So we walked across a viaduct, you know, and then where our playground, now it's a parking lot, it was on Getty Avenue just off of Madison Avenue, and it was, we had a box there with a padlock and the person that worked there for the Board of Recreation did the lock, put up the swings, they had a metal sliding pon[d] that got hot as hell, you didn't go in the summer time because you'd burn your butt.

Interviewer:

That's another term that most people don't know today. We called it the sliding pon[d] also.

Most:

Yeah. But we had the swings and then she'd bring out a dodge ball or something like that and it was called the Acre and that's where we went over to play every day. And then the big thing is when the Fire Department would turn on the hydrant and give us a shower.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

These kids today would die. They’d die. But we had fun. Really, we had fun. We were healthy, you had friends, you knew your neighbors, you know. As I say, I can almost name every family. I remember neighbors across the street from me. [] family, they opened a floral shop when Stassi closed his drug store, they made it a floral place there. And then up on the other side of Madison Avenue was People's Park Florist. Vasille owned that, and I think he had some job within the city, too, because a local fellow took my wedding pictures in '48 and then Vasille did a bride thing and he had a picture like this in the window during June.

Interviewer:

Oh.

Most:

Yeah. And of course across the street was Schagen's Shoes, that's where you went for your shoes. And that was a grandfather, father, and then the son had it up until a few years ago and Al Schagen, Jr., he had a sister, Rose Claire, that I was friends with in grammar school and high school, but Al had to be maybe two years older than me and he retired a few years ago. But even, you know, not working or being away from the avenue, that's what we called it, I'd stop in and stand and B.S. with him. But I mean, my kids, everybody's kids shoes were bought at Schagens.

Interviewer:

So which street did you call the Avenue?

Most:

21st, 21st Avenue, yeah, it was the Avenue.

Interviewer:

That's funny. In my hometown, the main street is called the Avenue.

Most:

Yeah, yeah. But, you know, that's all changed now. There was a hardware store that was two storeys. It had a basement and the first floor, that was on the corner of E. 19th and 21st Avenue. And when I was in grammar school, there was a hardware store, because Miss Harshorn was our first grade teacher, her family owned that and that would have been maybe 21st or 22nd Street, the corner. But it's funny how, you know, you stimulated a lot of memories...

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

And School 16 stimulated a lot.

Interviewer:

What got you into police work?

Most:

Well, first of all let me preface: All my life I've been involved in the neighborhood and cities. When I was in School 15, during World War II, I worked at the Red Cross down on Market Street. I brought work home. My mother and I sewed baby booties. And, we knitted and I would go down to the Red Cross building, you know, was up on the second floor, over then, oh God, a coffee shop, I can't think of the name of it now, but I would go there after school and work two or three days a week. And then in the seventh grade and eighth grade, there was a police officer, Mr. Keypers, he was a patrolman, he started Junior Commando Group at School 15, and I was captain of the girls, and Joe Esposito, God rest his soul, was captain of the boys, and once a month, they'd put it in the paper that we would go out and collect scrap paper and the people would put it on their curb. And then another Saturday, that was a Saturday, he would get a truck load to him, another Saturday we'd collect scrap iron. We'd even go into basements and pull out bed springs and then the monies that he made for selling the scrap iron and the paper, he would buy war stamps and each kid that was part of this group got the book, and you put in your stamps, and when you had $18.75, you got a war bond. I never did get a war bond that I can remember. But what I do remember is that you, Libby's, there on McBride Avenue, he would take us to Libby's, and then they had the outside, they used to open up the news old pictures (?), they used to open up this board and they had stools there and we could have a hot dog and a chocolate milk, which was a big deal.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

And that was our lunch. And somewhere I have a picture that Otillio [Carmen Otillio Construction] donated an old bucket loader and the news came and they did an article on it and several years ago, Ed Smyk [Passaic County Historian] was doing something on the homefront during World War II and he ran the picture and I saw it, because he said, I wonder where all these children are now, and I said, I called him and said, I can tell you where we are, you know. But you can't see me, because I was like standing in the cabs, you only see part of my face, because I could name, there was only one boy I couldn't remember his name.

Interviewer:

Did you have a victory garden?

Most:

That was my dad. He grew so many tomatoes, he got, you know, he was giving them out to the neighbors. But he got a rash eating so many tomatoes. Yeah. They put the earthware there, it was like black, it was very fertile.

Interviewer:

But did he do that for the war effort or did he do that just to have vegetables?

Most:

You know probably, it was for, you know, that was the other thing. For a very short time, I worked on a farm. I'd go downtown and they would pick us up by the City Hall with a flatbed truck, took us to a farm on, because it, the house is still standing there, it wasn't Valley Road, it was, I can't remember, but the first day I bunched kohlrabi, I didn't know what a kohlrabi was. I had slacks or jeans on, and then the cords underneath my belt and I came home and my back of my neck was as red as a beet. I got sunburnt. And I remember he let us go sit under a tree to eat our lunch, but we could only have water. He had a cow there and he had milk, but he could only give us water. I remember that. And I can still see the back of it, because when you're going on 46, yeah, the street ran parallel to 46, but I lasted there maybe a week. My mother said, no way, because I was sick. I was throwing up, so that was end of my farmerette business, really. My dad was an air raid warden, you know. I remember him going out with the hat and the whistle, hollering at people to pull their shades down, yeah. We, he, you know, I don't know, you were, because you sat around the radio and listened to the shows, Lux Theatre, with Loretta Young announcing, or when they had the Academy Awards, and they would describe the women's gowns and you'd sit there. They were good times, they were good times, really. As I say, going to my grandmother's, you know, once a week. Grandma coming down by us. My mother's sister, Dot, that, she had three boys. The oldest was three years younger than me, the middle one five, and the youngest, seven. Unfortunately, the oldest and the youngest passed, so I only have one cousin left. But that's when I first, through her I learned about domestic violence, because my uncle would come home drunk and he'd start fighting with her, so many a morning I woke up with the three boys in bed with me, because she'd pack the boys up in their nightclothes, put them in the wagon, and walk down to my mother. You know, but...

Interviewer:

So, you have the distinction of being the first female...

Most:

I'm not, no, see, that's where people will say you're the first. I'm not the first. I'm one, I'm the last one living, let's put it that way. The very first policewoman, Sara Lee, came on Paterson in the late Forties, early Fifties. In '54, they put on two women, in fact, I have a picture. They put on Peggy Easton and Vivian Blackman, who was black, she wasn't there in '64, she had left. They put, they put two on in '56, then in '57, Leona Robinson, who was a this girl [shows picture], came on as a temporary and they called for a civil service exam. You asked how I became, always interested, in, I mean, when I lived in barrack housing, Mother’s March on Polio, even in high school, went downtown to the theatres collecting for the infantile paralysis, they called it then, you know, with Franklin Roosevelt, active in social clubs at Eastside, yeah, that's how we started on this, but anyway, then in '58, oh, I'm getting ahead of myself. Joe Esposito, God rest his soul, was a neighborhood kid and I ran into him. I was working as an assistant bookkeeper over on Getty Avenue. I had left Wright's, because when you get laid off, you have to wait, and I said, I can't, I have to have a job, my ex was not supporting the kids at all. I had to work. So, I went to work for Ellison Terminal on Getty Avenue, which is now all part of St. Joe's, and Joe was a patrolman and he came in, he saw me one day and not only that, but his brother, Angelo, was promoted to sergeant, and it was in those days, they would have big dinners, and it was held at Donahue's on Rt. 23 and my mother said, if you want to go, you can go. So I went to it and I saw Joe there and, well, maybe we dated for six, eight weeks, that was it, but in the meantime he told me, Dolores, you've always been active, you're still active in your church, but you know, you need good commonsense, and being able to talk to people. So, he taught me, instructed me what exercises I would have to do, and he turned me on, there was this gentleman who was doing classes for police and fire civil service tests down in the YMCA and my mother let me go, because I was working, she had to babysit at night. And when I took the test, I came out first.

Interviewer:

Good for you.

Most:

So they ended up, because she was a temporary, they ended up appointing the two of us and so that we both came on in '58, June of '58. But this is me and six
years later. [shows photo]

Interviewer:

Oh, look at that.

Most:

That's Peggy Easton and that's Leona Robinson. She was divorced with two children, too. And morally, you know, in the Fifties, fact that I was divorced, there was a, God rest their soul, that's Petey Ventimiglia and Al Lynch, there were no academies, you went to the base, to the rod and gun store, and I bought my detective special, a fellow that was with the, I met him through the department, he worked up in the county park police, he took me up to Garret Mountain and taught me how to shoot my gun. This gentleman was a sergeant when I went on and then became a lieutenant.

Interviewer:

And this is...

Most:

Petey Ventimiglia, Pete Ventimiglia. This is Al Lynch. Most, you know, first of all, I had an Italian-sounding name. You had squads, Italians and Irishmen. Peggy Easton, Irish. And Pete would take me when he was going to interview and [inaudible] for the interviews, he'd let me sit in on the interviews. He let me sit in on the interrogations, there's a difference. I would type their statements. Because that was the other thing. When I was working in Wright's, I worked in the Garfield plant as a file clerk. I wanted to go up the next step to get more money. I went to Central High School at night to learn typing and then I could apply for the next step, so that when I got laid off, when we all got laid off, you know, but I used to type their statements and on a Friday or a Saturday night if they were working the shift, my mother would watch the kids and I would go downtown and I would ride with them, you know, just so I could learn the job. Although the other guys were nice to me, don't misunderstand me, but see that was the big joke, because you got to realize, in the Fifties, Paterson had a lot of Italians, so if a woman came in and spoke Italian, the guy at the desk would tell them wait, nice Italian policewoman, they'd send her up to me. And I'd have to, I don't speak, my words were [Italian], shush and wait, and I'd go get one of the Italian-speaking detectives. So, basically that's why I went to court to have my name Americanized. When I first met my husband, he told me his last name was Perry. I didn't know till we were quite involved and engaged, that his name was Pericciuoli. So, but, you know, that's, you know, we, I had a bar across my bathroom and when I went by, because then I was living in the barrack housing, I chinned myself, I did sit-ups, push-ups, wall jump, lifted weights, because we had to everything the men did...

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

In the physical, except one exercise. Men [inaudible], because of our pelvic areas, we can't do those Russian kicks. So they modified that one and instead of doing that, we had to stand on, do a deep knee bend, stand on our toes, clasp our knees, and bounce. Men can't do that. So that was the only one. They climbed a rope. I climbed a rope. I mean, everything, I was in good shape, I must admit.

Interviewer:

You're still in good shape.

Most:

Yeah. I need to get more active, though. But you know, it's, I was always, well, when I was a kid, Flossie and I on the street, one of us was The Daily News and the other The Daily Mirror, because we knew everything.

Interviewer:

So when did you leave the police force?

Most:

I retired from there in '84. Yeah. February of '84. And then in the beginning of '83, I had an insurance policy and I contacted the man that had the company and I said, you know, I have to transfer my payments to home and he talked me into becoming an insurance agent. He said you got the contacts in the department, so I sold life insurance and annuities, went to school, got my license, got my notary license later on, and I did that from '84 to '88. When I went back, I went over to the Passaic County prosecutor's office as an investigator. You know, you got to realize, when we went on anything involving women and children, and I would say, when they didn't know what else to do with it, we got it. You know, somebody from down South and from Midwest would say they haven't heard from a brother and this was the last place he lived so then we'd start a missing person's, but we worked straight days, but two of us were on call at night, so that if one got called out and then another job came in that they couldn't handle, the second one would get called out. And even though you got called out at night, you still had to be there at 8:30 in the morning, you know. And luckily, I could get called out in the middle of the night, go back home, put my head on the pillow and sleep again. And you figure, my girls were six and five when I went on, so if I got called out in the middle of the night, I'd call my mother, I'd tell the desk sergeant, send a car to pick her up, she'd get in the car, they'd bring her to my house, then they'd take me downtown or wherever I had to go. But we would respond to children left alone, we responded to sexual assaults, it's a whole new routine in the last several years, but then, I would respond to the hospital with the victim and when she was examined, I would also be in the room, making notes, noticing any bruises, any scratches, you know, of things, things of that sort, collecting her clothes for evidential, go back to the house if it happened in her home, again, taking evidence, and then because nine times out of ten, it was late at night or you're finishing up at three, four o'clock in the morning, I would tell her to come back around 11 o'clock and then we would take a formal statement. When I went to the hospital, basically, I was alone. Maybe a detective would come in, because not normally, they would assist me during the day, you know, they would come in, because really there was nothing they could do at that hour, you know, they responded to shootings, stabbings, and stuff like that. I did it if it was a woman with them, you know. But when we went out to investigate anything, I usually went with a man. Sometimes two women went together. Most times it was with a detective.

Interviewer:

How often were you called out in the middle of the night?

Most:

Quite often.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

Quite often, yeah. You know, there was times I got called out twice in one night.

Interviewer:

Wow.

Most:

There was a lieutenant that used to work nights and I knew him before I went on the job. His brother-in-law lived next door to me, and he was a patrolman then but then he became a lieutenant. This was when I was living in the barracks. I keep calling it the barrack housing, Teshon Village. Ah, were you sleeping? he'd say. With a laugh [laugh]. So I started asking, you know, the five questions: who it was, where it happened, how it happened, and when it happened, because sometimes it happened in another area, but the woman came and reported it in Paterson, I’d have to send, so I mean there’s no sense, no, no, no. You know, you don't ask those five questions first, I'm not coming in. And, you know, but you learn that, you know, when you first started, you're eager. But no, but as I started to say, even to get on the job, you had a police and fire commission and they looked down their noses at a divorced woman, because they just felt you weren't morally fit to be a policewoman.

Interviewer:

Wow.

Most:

You had to prove it by your divorce papers.

Interviewer:

Wow.

Most:

Yeah, you know.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

That was the old days, you know.

Interviewer:

Well, even today there's still a stigma.

Most:

Yeah, there is. The women still have to, you know, I used to say, I think with my upper body, I have upper body strength, because I feel this way, if you don't have to have a confrontation, don't. You know. I mean, I've gone out and picked up guys and had a uniformed man with me [phone rings] and he would start and I'd say to that the defendant, you know, the suspect, I'm not going, they'd get real bravado, and I'd say, look, we can do it two ways. We could walk out of there, I'll handcuff you, but I'll throw your jacket over your hands, and you get in the car with me, or, if you fight us, then I call for another unit, and we take you out of here in handcuffs and ankle cuffs, and you'll go out of here screaming like a pig. Now, it's up to you: how do you want to go out? And most times, again, it was a different era. People were different. They'd walk out with you. They wouldn't give you a problem, because I found no matter how much you might have hated the person for what they did, if you treated them right, you didn't have to fight. Now some people saw that as a weakness, I'm sure. But I didn't care, you know, I said, I'm not a street fighter. Why should I fight, you know, when I can get them out, I mean, in fact, one night when I was over in Juvenile, after our fire in headquarters, they moved us over to the Juvenile at 137 Ellison Street and I have this young girl that went to a house with a young boy and she agreed to have sex with him but then two others jumped in, which she did not agree with. So, I went out to the house, told them they had to come in, brought them in, and I walked and then we had to walk them from Ellison Street over to Washington Street. I'm walking with this kid, he had to be six foot four, I was only 5'6", the desk officer says, what, I don't believe this, I say, well, I called the bureau, there was nobody available, so I walked him over.

Interviewer:

Yeah.

Most:

But, you know, I've had a man in, you know, in for an interview, knowing I was going to arrest him for sexual assault of his step-daughter. That when we went to pat him down, it was after hours, and the night guy was in Juvenile, he was sitting in the back reading a paper, he could care less. I mean, we were separated like from where I'm sitting to the door over there [points] and when I told him to stand up and start patting him down, he had a loaded .22 revolver in his pocket. Now he could have easily shot me and been out the door before that guy even got to me, but I mean, it's just the chances that you take, I mean, he came in, that was the last thing I ever expected, and you just, you know, again, today? I could never do it today, because the people today, you know, the young fellows, mm-mm. Even the young girls are just as bad as the young men today.

Interviewer:

So is that one of the changes you notice about Paterson?

Most:

Definitely. Definitely.

Interviewer:

What other changes do you see?

Most:

Well, I saw the change in neighborhoods after World War II. You've got to realize, with Wright’s going 24/7 and then you had the plant on Getty Avenue, which was Continental Can, but that also you had Morrison Machine on Madison and Getty, that was also doing federal work, that people were moving in from Pennsylvania and from down South, and a lot of the people...I've always gone to St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Broadway and East 18th Street, but what I notice like is a lot of the people that had the big houses on Ellison Street and Van Houten Street, were renting out rooms to do their part for the defense workers, even on East 19th Street, so that's when I noticed neighborhoods change. Not on my block, because of the like small, two-family, you know, houses, cold water flats. But the bigger houses I noticed, because walking over to Sunday school and to church and then friends of mine lived in an attic apartment and after the war, a lot of these people stayed, and the people that owned the houses, took off for the suburbs, and that's when I saw a lot of the neighborhoods, you know, changing.

Interviewer:

Yeah. What do you want today's generation to know about Paterson?

Most:

That's a rough one. I want them to know, it is a good city. It was made by good people, people that were industrious, people that were into the arts, even though, people we call it a factory town, different groups like the German group, they had their German Singing Society on Sussex Street. My dad belonged to the Benefit Association of Railroad Employees (BARE). I remember going to the meetings and to their parties down on Ellison Street. There was a big family. The other thing I notice is after World War II, when young men married, they no longer wanted to live down the street from their in-laws or their parents, and this is when they all moved to Elmwood Park or to West Paterson or the Totowa section. I mean, the Totowa section on the other side of Union Avenue, that's when all those Cape Cods were built, and then up to Totowa Borough and I remember like St. George's in South Paterson, they had a drum and bugle corps and going to the games or the other thing was the Roman Catholics, Knights of Columbus, had a parade in the fall, usually around the first weekend in October, because it was nice, and the drum and bugle corps would march and the men, oh, what they called them, the Rosary Society was the women, was it the Knights of Columbus, maybe, the men from each parish marched, you know. So that was a big thing. You know, you'd go, hi, Uncle Sam. Hi, Uncle Bob. You know. And you would run and you stood in one spot and same people stood there every year and you'd meet neighbors and one thing and another. I think people were more neighborly but today, the kids are closed up in the house with their iPADs, and their TVs or the games, and you know, unfortunately, parents have to work two jobs to make ends meet, you know. The rule of thumb back in the Fifties and early Sixties was one-third of your income would be to take care of your rent. In fact, the reason I had to get out of Tashon Village, was because that property was sold, and we met in what they called the Ducks Club, it was a social hall and they offered me an apartment here. Now when I lived on Fair Street, my parents lived upstairs from me and they moved out into the apartment on 21st Avenue and I said [phone rings], no way am I ever going to any apartment, you know, so that's when I started looking for rooms. But it's a what they'd call it [phone rings], but it's, you know, it's a company. Three and four calls a day, sometimes eight, and you know, it comes up as private callers so you think it's a friend, but then they start this hello, hello, and then they start [inaudible] hang up. And I say, look, I'm giving all the money I can give. I can't give anymore. But it happens. I think neighborhoods have changed. People go their own way. They don't take time, like there's a poem that the old clothesline, you knew if there was a sickness in the house, because the sheets were changed off often or if a new baby, and the neighbors cared. The neighbors would go and bring soup or babysit, it's, I think this is what's changed. I mean, you know, I'm active at church, and I've got a lot of friends there, but I really don't know them like I knew my old neighbors, let's put it that way. I do know them, but they're my church family. And it was interesting, my parents were friends with a couple from church and when my mother passed and then a year or so later, my dad remarried, and that's another whole story, and so that was the end of my father and my relationship, only because of her and there was this couple that they friends I befriended and they went to church, she got sick, it wasn't till the father died that I really knew their history. They were both Irish immigrants. She came over as a nanny. He played some like pro soccer. He came over for the soccer. And that they met through friends.

Interviewer:

Oh, interesting.

Most:

And, you know, as I say, but I didn't realize that until much later, you know. But he was probably in his eighties when I learned that. But you know, and as I say, I've seen my church go, you couldn't get in on Christmas or Easter, you know. At Christmas, the service started at 10:30, you had to get there by 10:00 in order to get a seat. And our church, at one time before they removed some of the pews, held 600 people. St. Paul's was built by our forefathers with the thought in mind that it would become the cathedral of our Newark Diocese. But you know, they made it a jubilee church at least 18 years ago and certain things are held there when it's a big diocesan thing. But our cathedral is that little precolonial church down in Newark by the PAC, by the park.

Interviewer:

Oh, I know that church.

Most:

Yeah, that's our cathedral, believe it or not. So, but I think this is, you know, I say hello and goodbye to neighbors here. But I guess I'm closest to the ones closest to me.

Interviewer:

Sure.

Most:

But even at that, I mean, this young married couple, hello and goodbye.

Interviewer:

But even that is a blessing.

Most:

Yeah, yeah.

Interviewer:

Because that doesn’t happen all the time.

Most:

No, no. Most people will say hello and goodbye. You know, there’s a couple of people like, I was injured, I fell and I fractured my wrist and I fractured my sacrum in my back and I was in for three months. And if it hadn't been for my daughter and a couple of the women I’m close with from church, and my neighbors, you know, you sit here. I'm a person, a people person, I get out. And it was like I had one couple, we became friendly and, you know, we said hello and goodbye and he worked in the ambulances and we knew the same people, because he worked out of St. Joe's. But they’d call me at 11, 11:30 on a Saturday and I'd make out my shopping list and they would go and buy my groceries and bring it by later on in the afternoon, you know. I mean I couldn't use my right hand, it was in a cast, not a cast, but a brace, and I had to keep it on 24/7 and could only move these fingers here, so, would you open up my windows, would you close my windows. This was from June until September. I didn't know what it was to go outside. And the girl next door, she worked, she'd come in twice a week and pick up my newspapers, take out my garbage.

Interviewer:

Right.

Most:

And my neighbor next door, they've all been very, very nice. Very nice. And taking me to the doctor's.

Interviewer:

So, I'm going to end this here. But I reserve the right to ask you more questions later.

Most:

Sure.

Interviewer:

So, I'm sure you have more to say.

Most:

Yeah, I've probably got off on a tangent on things

Interviewer:

So, I'm going to close this out. It is now almost a quarter after four. So thank you very much, Dolores.

Most:

You're welcome. [1:26:58]

END

Last updated: June 16, 2019

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