Sidney and Betty’s Branch

 

 

 

A comprehensive history was written by my father Sidney in 1982/3 after my constantly “chivvying” him to give me some idea of my roots.

 

Sidney (Shalom ben Avram) (20th June 1906 –3rd January 1987), was the 6th of seven siblings born to Abraham (Avram Abba ben Benjamin David) and Leah Sabel (Leah bet Shmuel). He married Betty Rubenstein (5th January 1907 – 4th June1997) on 18th March 1928, and had one child, Peter, born 29th April 1931.

 

Peter was sent to a boarding school in Crewkerne Somerset at the age of 9 for primary education, to escape the bombing during the Second World War and afterwards to a boarding school in Malvern Worcestershire. The school was ironically “evacuated” to Harrow 4 miles from home because the buildings at Malvern were requisitioned by the government for the development of Radar. Peter qualified as a solicitor in 1954 (now retired) and married Sybil Kathlyn Flack on 16th June 1957. They live in Greater London and have two daughters, Sara Naomi born 28th December 1962 and Juliette Lisa born 19th August 1966.

 

Sara

Educated at Haberdashers Askes , Sara is interested in painting as a hobby. She runs her own business creating jewellery from semi precious stones. Sara married Gerald on 26th March 1989, and lives in Greater London. They have two daughters, Natasha Rachel born 19th December 1992 and Chloe Melissa born 15th October 1996. Both are at Haberdashers.

 

Juliette

Educated at Queens College and Leeds University, where she read history of art, Juliette qualified as a solicitor and works in the City. She married Russell on 1st September 1991 and lives in  Greater London. They have a son William Stanford born on 30th June 1996 and a daughter Imogen Bettina born on 11th December 1998. Both are at local preparatory schools.

 

The above is a brief resume of our family now. Set out below is the Sabel Saga as written by my father. There are some minor amendments but the original has been retained in the “hard copy” for those wishing to see it.

 

 

 

 

THE SABEL SAGA

As seen by Sidney Sabel in 1982/3

(PLEASE NOTE: This document was written in 1982/3 and partially updated in 1986, but bear in mind that since then time has moved on and much has happened to the people mentioned and sadly many are no longer living).

I was born on 20 June 1906, sixth of a family of seven. My mother told me that I was born during a blistering heat-wave, and I was a very welcome arrival. My mother's name was Leah (Leah bet Shmuel), my father Abraham (Avram Abba ben Benjamin David) was a master tailor, and had a workshop in partnership with his younger brother Barnet who lived next door. The workshop was built at the end of their two gardens (No's 1 & 3 Gladstone Avenue, East Ham) and there was a right of way adjacent to No. 1 which gave access for the employees into the workshop.

 

My father was born in a small village in Russia named Vidz in Kovna Geberna, and he was the second eldest of a family of nine. At the age of nine, he was apprenticed to a journeyman tailor and learnt his trade in a hard school. The family in Vidz were very poor, and lived mostly on potatoes. My father tells of borrowing his father's boots to go out into the snow and ice.

 

His dream was to get away from Russia with the pogroms by Cossacks, and eventual conscription into the army where he would be treated as a despised Jew. He eventually scraped together and borrowed enough money to bribe his way across the frontier and, at the age of about 16, he left here and, going through Germany, got to a port to embark for London. There was a regular organised route for this journey, and all that was needed was sufficient money to bribe the frontier guards, and cover the fare. In London he had the address of friends who sheltered him until he could earn some money, and become self supporting. This happened about he year 1887. When he had established himself he sent for his brothers and sisters, and with Barnet's help, eventually, his parents- (Benjamin, David and Sarah).

 

 

At this time my mother was making similar plans. She too came from a small village where she was brought up by an aunt following the early death of her mother, and the re-marriage of her father to a younger sister. She was taught to work on fur garments, and I gather she was very efficient. She was able to earn a living in this trade although she had difficulty in persuading her employer that one so young was so knowledgeable. The centre for Jewish immigrants was Whitechapel, and my mother being an attractive young lady (she was about 23) was introduced to several eligible young men until she met my father, and they decided to marry in 1892.

 

They lived in a couple of rooms in Princelet Street where a son named Solly, and two daughters, Katie and Rachel were born.

 

My father was ambitious and opened his workshop together with Barnet, and arranged to tailor jackets for a city firm of bespoke tailors named Watts and Christie who had a high class but conservative clientele. It was on the strength of this that they bought two houses from Sir John Bethel who was the local MP and a building developer. He took them to see the property in his carriage. Barnet occupied No 1 and Abraham No 3. These were newly built, and they had the workshop built at the bottom of the garden of No 1. The firm for whom they tailored arranged to install one the first telephones in the area, the number was East Ham 2501.

 

 

My sister Mary was born here in 1900, and Louis in 1902. My oldest brother who became known as Charles, and later as Chilly was 13¼ years older than me, and approximately 2 years divided each later birth until Louis arrived, and I was 4¼ years later.

 

Trade prospered and an extension to the workshop was built at the bottom of the No 3 garden (No planning permission was needed in those days). The workshop employed father's brother Mark, brothers-in-law Harris Barst and Maurice Rosenbloom as well as a staff of about 9 depending on the season.

 

At this point of our history I can rely more on my own memory, and less on what I have been told. The building of the extension was a great event for me, and I can remember all the adventures I had climbing over the partly built structure when the workmen were away. I can remember various relations arriving from Russia, and being given a home while securing their own accommodation or travelling to the U.S. Many of these were my mother's relations whom she didn't even know. Having been brought up by this aunt, she was unaware of the half brothers and sisters that were born of her fathers second marriage, although of course they had the same surname - Swidler. Nevertheless they were accepted readily and one of these whom I knew as Uncle Harold started a fire, by leaving a lighted cigarette on a chiffonier at night. This was really exciting for me, and fortunately the damage was slight, and confined to the furniture.

 

My brother Harry was born about this time, January 1909, but I have no recollection of his presence until some time later. We had a live-in maid although their wages in those days were a mere-pittance. At this period fathers brother Mark, sisters Eva and Annie lived within an area of 2/300 yards from us, but Barnet lived next door of course. The fence between us was taken down and we had use of the whole area with ready access to each others homes.

 

Barnet and Minnie had five children - Israel (later James), Aby who died in 1919 in the 'flu epidemic at the age of nineteen, Charles, Jack and Hannah.

Mark and Becky had three childen, Hannah, Sidney and Mortimer.

Eva and Harris Barst had four children, Sarah, Jenny, Louis and Alice.

Annie and Maurice Rosenbloom had one son Louis.

We were in almost daily contact so we always had lots of company, and our two houses were the centre for all to come together. All our generation went to Kensington Avenue School, and we were almost the only Jews that attended there.

My father and Barnet were very hard working often starting at 5 am and during the high season I have known them work all night. Barnet had learned to read and write, and looked after the "clerical" side of the business. Father and Mother could not read or write English their education having been solely confined to Hebrew. Father could however sign his name and was naturalised in about 1900. His birthday was on Simchat Torah, but my mother never knew hers, so we celebrated both on that day. My father took a very keen interest in the Shul which he helped to build up, became president, and was eventually made life president. Barnet was for some time the treasurer.

 

Originally our only form of lighting was gas, and the heating was by coal fire although we did have an improved form of fire which incorporated a boiler which heated the water. Eventually we had electricity installed, and had gas fires in the bedrooms and drawing rooms - this was indeed opulence.­

There was no radio in those days and we would amuse ourselves by gathering round the piano and singing, mostly sentimental ballads. Jim and Ray had nice voices. A very vivid memory was of washing days every Monday. This upset the routine of the day, and the meals were very basic. I am on record as having expressed my disgust at this disturbance to our routine. Every Friday morning my mother went by workmans' train (tickets had to be bought and used before 8 am) to Aldgate East, and came back with two huge shopping bags laden with goods from the "lane".

My oldest brother who was now called Charles went to Clarks College after leaving the elementary school and then got a job in an advertising agency. My sister Katie (who is known as Kit) went on to the East Ham Technical College and later became secretary to a firm in Barking owned by Oscar Philips. Ray went into the workshop, and became what is known as button-hole hand, and a very good one. Mary worked in a local dress shop, Koskys. Louis started as a junior in a firm called Budgets who were tea merchants.

I was eight when the 1914 war broke out, and still have remains of a diary to the news of the war, and realized afterwards how much distorted propaganda we were fed with. There was a certain amount of anti-semitism at school but it didn't seem vicious. We were called "shonk" and "sheeny" but there was no violence. I can remember playing around the streets with an iron hoop which I controlled with a "skinner". This was a short hooked iron rod with a wooden handle. We weren't given a lot of toys to play with, but my sisters would fill our stockings at Christmas so that we didn't feel we were missing too much.

I can remember being given a tricycle at quite a young age, and my older cousins (they were only about a year older) being eager to show me how to ride it.

The war didn't affect us too much although Chilly and Jim were expecting to be conscripted into the army, but to enable then to have a choice of regiments they volunteered and opted for the Royal Engineers. There were air raids by Zeppelins, and we all cheered when one was set on fire at Ciffley by a Capt. Leafe Robinson. I recall a daring daylight raid one Saturday morning by about 30 planes. We watched as they flew into the heart of London, and they were not recognised, and challenged until they started dropping bombs on the city of London. I later went to Beckton to see the wreck of a German plane which had been brought dawn. We had rationing of certain foods including sugar, and my sisters decided to give up their ration in order that my grandfather could have the eleven pieces of sugar he enjoyed in his huge mug of tea.

 

It was in the early days of the war that Chilly was courting Millie Sakelovitch and for some reason that I still cannot fathom out he used to take me with him by tram, and I used to play with the boys and girls Sake who were around my age. I was particularly attracted to Dora (later she chose to be known as Doris). Mr Isaac Sakelovitch (later became Sake) was a "Luntzman" of my father, and they had brought Chilly and Millie together. I was given sets of cigarette cards which were included in packets of cigarettes, and which they took (with the customers’ permission) from the packets as they sold them in their tobacconist shop at Poplar where they lived. I had an impressive album of these cards, one of these sets being of recruiting posters. Much to my regret I sold these to the presser - Mr Gipstein who worked for my father - for the princely sum of five shillings. This was a lot of money for a kid in those days, but Mr Gipstein must have known what he was doing; can you imagine their value today. At the age of twelve, I gained a scholarship to a school known as the Higher Elementary. This school was experimental, it was mixed, and the class I was in consisted of the first twenty boys and the first twenty girls. The education was inclined to the commercial rather than the classical as was the East Ham Technical College which Kit and Harry attended. However our syllabus included chemistry, wood and metal work, French, shorthand and bookkeeping.

 

 

I was very keen on sport, but my parents frowned on these activities and I mostly kept my participation on a low key. I did however join with some of my fellow students to form a cricket team, and I was very proud to save twenty five shillings (£1.25) and buy myself a "Jack Hobbs" bat. My parents were not exactly cinema fans and we had to scrounge money from my sister to go to the pictures as we called it. There were Saturday morning matinees for children where one could see the exciting "Exploits of Elaine" with Pearl White and the "Clutching Hand". These were shown in serial form and always finished at the most sensationally dangerous situation for Pearl White, and you were offered the opportunity of paying to see the next episode the following week.

 

Chilly and Jim were duly accepted in the Royal Engineers, and were stationed in billets at Woburn Sands. Jim rose to the rank of sergeant, and had a good office job. Chilly was drafted to East Africa and was trained to maintain telephone lines etc and while there, he caught malaria. Before going abroad he married Millie in a military wedding at the East Ham and Manor Park Synagogue. She continued living at her parents home, and worked at making cigarettes at a small shop her father had in Sidney Street. She also had an allowance as a soldiers wife. Chilly came home after the war in hospital blue still suffering from malaria. When he had sufficiently recovered he was demobilized, and his in-laws suggested he opened a tobacconists, encouraging him to tender for a disused railway goods depot at 10 Commercial Road. They promised to supply the necessary finance. His bid was accepted, but his in-laws let him down . My father came to the rescue, and with the aid of loans from his brothers Barnet and Mark raised the required amount. The shop had to have a front built, and a partition was erected half way down the length to provide living accommodation; the flat above being occupied by protected tenants.

 

Some time later Kit married Jim with a reception at the Elysee Rooms in Bayswater. I have pleasant memories of accompanying one of the Daimlers of the several which were hired to pick up relatives which was the practice at this time; this was a real treat. There were some unusual circumstances in connection with this wedding. After the date was fixed, Becky Deutch arranged her wedding a few weeks before this. Kit and Jim were furious and brought their date forward to a week before Becky's. Jim in his teens was manager of a Letts stationery shop, and went to business wearing a top hat.

 

Ray was the next to get married. She was introduced to Tom Wise, He opened a tailor shop in Clapham, but unfortunately, financially, things were not very good.

 

Mary was a particularly attractive girl, and once won a beauty contest when her sisters sent her photograph to a magazine holding one of these contests. She met Aby Wolfers at a Jewish Club in Forest Gate, and he courted her with great persistence and sophisticated charm. They were married, the reception being held at the East Ham Town Hall. Aby had a shop called "The London Surplus Stores" and they lived in West Kensington. He was doing well, but his main interest was bridge at which game he became a master and represented England.

 

When Louis left his job with the tea merchants he became apprenticed to uncle Ike Weinstein in 1919. Ike was an accomplished cabinet maker who married my mothers half sister Milly and they had a son Mick (Myer) and a daughter Doris. They lived in the East End in very primitive conditions. This apprenticeship was abortive as Ike was out of a job nine months later due to the fall in the demand for handmade furniture, and in 1920 Louis went to the U.S. and stayed with the Berlyns. "Nachamah" Berlyn was my mothers only 100% sister and married "Berrila" (Barnet) Berlyn. They had some seven children and Louis stayed with Charles and Ibra Berlyn. The Berlyn parents came from Russia and went on to Brighton where they lived a hand to mouth existence, the boys selling fruit from a barrow. They all emigrated to Worcester Mass. shortly before the 1914 war.       

 

Their eldest daughter Betsy died at quite a young age from a tumour on the brain during the time that Louis was there. The only one of the first generation still alive is Katie, and she is well cared for by her nephews, particularly Hyman's boys Shelden and Gerry for whom she did quite a lot in the past. Louis returned from the States in 1922 after staying for some time with Rose Pearl Grace's parents. He did a little commercial travelling for a firm making ladies blouses, but eventually opened a shop in the Ilford Pioneer Market selling various items of haberdashery. On 1 January 1928 he married Hannah at our local shul and the reception was at the Town Hall. Initially they lived at No 1 Gladstone Avenue.

 

When I left school in my sixteenth year, I had no inclination to continue studying for a profession although my father would have dearly loved this. I applied for one or two junior office jobs but had no luck as these vacancies were quickly filled. It then occurred to me that it might be a good idea to go into the workshop to learn tailoring, and so ensure that I could earn some sort of living anywhere in the world if needs be. My father wouldn't hear of it so, foolishly I went to the Royal Albert Docks where the Australian ships docked, and tried for a job as a cabin boy. I was told that they only engaged crews in Australia, but if they were short before sailing I might be engaged. I realized that I was probably asking for trouble, but thought it would give me some experience of the world. When I told my parents of this episode I was enlisted into the workshop staff without more ado.

 

Incidentally I had frequently passed the gates to the docks when making for the Woolwich free ferry where I would travel back and forth across the Thames, and imagine I was cruising. I worked under my fathers direction for three years, and although I could hold down a job in any tailoring workshop we agreed that there was little future in pushing a needle. It was at this time that brother-in-law Aby was seeking to expand his London Store business. He obtained premises in Bishopsgate belonging to the L.N.E. Railway. I was made a very junior partner with the little money I had saved and we soon opened up. However Aby was disappointed with the first weeks takings, and as he had not yet signed the lease he just cleared out. Thus for a while I was unemployed, and at that time I was very keen on dancing and one could go to tea dances at the Kit Kat and the Pop in the West End and dance to the bands of Jack Hylton, Harry Roy etc at very modest prices. Later Aby took premises in Chiswick High Road, and I was installed as manager at an appropriately small salary. After about twelve months I looked for an increase but Aby took a poor view of this. My father was the prime mover behind all this, and he suggested that we bought Aby's share, and I took over the shop. Aby agreed with some bad grace, and I became a shopkeeper. All this time I had been travelling by workmans' train to open up by 9 am. At this period of my life I was rather orthodox and I inserted an advert in the Jewish Chronicle seeking kosher lunches in the area. I had a reply from a Mrs Harris in Bedford Park, and that was my first introduction to the Jewish community in West London. One of Mrs Harris's sons Jack told me of the Hammersmith and West Kensington Social and Literary Club which had its headquarters in Brook Green Shul, and one of its activities was the Jordan tennis club in Acton. Being keen on tennis and having played quite a lot with my old school club I jumped at the opportunity and joined. It was here that I met Betty, although strangely enough I met her sister Hetty first and went out to tea with her. Two years later on 18 March 1928 Betty and I were married at the Grand Palais in Whitechapel. We chose this venue as it was the best kosher hall situated between Hammersmith where Betty lived, and East Ham. We were actually married in the hall, and what was unusual at that time, at a time later than 3 pm. I had found out that while Christians were not allowed to marry after this time, Jews and Quakers were exempt. This meant we were all in evening dress and saved the difficulty of having to change.

 

Harry left the "tech" at 16 and went into an office. Later he worked with me in the Chiswick shop, and then represented a firm of trouser makers (J. Temple & Sons) with whom I did business. They agreed to his taking a week off to look after my shop while I was on honeymoon at the East Cliff Court Hotel in Bournemouth which was then kosher. Harry met Gladys at Rose Deutch's wedding, fell in love and were soon married. Harry bought the London Surplus Stores from Aby who was now in the business of installing fruit machines in bridge clubs, and investing the proceeds in property. It was at this time that Aby moved to Princes Park Avenue, Golders Green. Harry lived in a house in Barnes, occupying the ground floor and subletting the first floor - at one time to Ray and family.

My father and Uncle Barnet retired when my Father was around 65, and his brother a couple of years younger. My Father had a small income from two houses he had bought and from subletting the first floor at No 3.

The two brothers with their wives made a grand trip to the US in 1930/1 visiting all their relatives having a super holiday returning on the R.M.S. Berengaria. The workshop stood empty but the brothers still pottered about there doing family jobs and private orders. One of the events which took place there was the Golden Wedding party for my paternal grandparents. This must have been in the early twenties. Louis Ross fixed up some music. He of course played the violin, and he instructed me how to play a couple of notes which served as an accompaniment to the tune he played.

My Mother suffered badly from rheumatism, and her relief was a visit to the local vapour baths (bod) every Tuesday. Father was a great walker, and when he retired he often took a day return to Southend to sun himself. A weekly visit to the local Russian vapour baths was a family routine, and attendance by the Jewish males in the East End to a more basic type called "Sheftsik" was very popular. This operated in similar fashion to what is now known as a Sauna, the heat and steam being created by pouring water on a large heated stone. The hygiene in this establishment left a lot to be desired.

Chilly's son Humphrey was born at the back room of his shop, but they later got possession of the upper part where they lived when the second son Stanley was born. They worked all the hours that God gave and repaid all the loans in due course. Chilly still suffered attacks of malaria, and had to limit the amount of work he could do. Millie was a great help in the business. After Humphrey left school he went to the US and stayed with relatives there. However he never seemed to find a niche, and when America entered the 2nd world war he was conscripted into their army, and served in the Panama zone. Stanley was in the British army but was discharged with Hodgkin’s Disease from which he died at the age of 22. Humphrey returned to England and entered employment with his parents in their shop. He married Betty's youngest sister Lily and lived in a flat at the White House where Chilly and Millie had lived for a while during the war, but had now returned to 10 Commercial Road. Susan was born while Humphrey and Lily still lived there, but they later moved to a house in Harrow. Humphrey contracted Multiple Sclerosis, and while he continued work for some time he was eventually completely crippled and died at the age of 42. Chilly died at the age of 69 from a heart attack while in the shop just before Humphrey's demise. The shop was compulsorily purchased by the GLC for road improvement schemes, and Millie was re-housed in a high rise flat in Maida Vale. Several years later she died in the Middlesex Hospital from lung cancer.

 

Kit and Jim first lived in Clapham, Jim being in turns a cinema manager, shop keeper then again manager of a newly built super cinema for which he organised the grand opening. They lived in Netheravon Road, Chiswick the cinema was known as the Commodore Hammersmith, now an office block occupied by Qantas Airways. Joan is their oldest child, then Clive, and David. After Jim left the Commodore he managed cinemas in Croydon and Southampton simultaneously. They moved to Croydon, and it was during this period (war time) that Jim died from a heart attack at the age of 45 while giving witness at a trial. Kit carried on managing the cinema at Croydon. Before Jim's death they moved for a time to Godstone and on one occasion when Jim was unwell he was visited by his friend and Doctor Ansell Fry. His wife Busha was with him, and John was sitting in the car outside. Busha called him in, and introduced him to the family. He was a student at Guys Hospital at the time and was very shy. However John and Joan did get together and eventually married. Joan did some part time nursing, and later joined the land army (this before she married) Joan and John lived in Thornton Heath and have two children James and Dimity. James is married to Susannah and has two daughters Xanthe and Abigail. Dimity  has two sons, Charles and Oliver. Clive was training to be an actuary but was called into the army and took part in the invasion of Europe being in the tank corps. After the war he joined the atomic establishment at Harwell. He married Sonya Shine and had three boys - Jimmy, Colin and Kenneth. He died from cancer in his early forties. Sonya took the job of teacher/ housekeeper at Carmel College. David married Beryl, and they have two adopted children, Andrew and Rachel. Jimmy died of a rare heart disease in 1984 aged about 30

 

Ray and Tom had five children; Cynthia, Hilda, Margaret, Ruth and David. Tom died from a heart attack aged 53, and following this Ray received some help from our parents, and later got a job in the civil service. They moved to the first floor flat of the house in Barnes occupied by Harry and Gladys. Cynthia won a State scholarship to Oxford and specialized in languages.       Cynthia is married and has two boys. She lives in Tilehurst near Reading and travels to conferences etc as interpreter. She is now a grandmother. Hilda married Ricky Horn and has three daughters, Judith being the oldest, and Helen and Susan are twins. They all married. Hilda is now divorced, and resumed a job with the Post Office. She has a nice voice and sings in the Shul choir. Margaret is not married and has a very good career with the Foreign office for whom she has travelled worldwide. Ruth is married to Don Foley who is a successful estate agent in South London. They have no children and have a house in Sanderstead.

 

            Ruth won a scholarship to St Andrews University, was a lecturer and paints. David was a Colonel in the Australian army; he went there with his mother and Margaret and stayed when they returned to England. He eventually married and has two children. Ray had remarried in Australia to a man named Roger but he died while she was in England. While in Australia she had a serious stomach operation, and was never very robust afterwards. She contracted a disease of the blood but she went with Margaret to several countries where Margaret was posted. Margaret looked after her mother very well, but it was all rather a lot for her to cope with. Ray died in London aged 80 while living with Margaret in Croydon.

                       

Mary and Aby had three children, Philip, David and Louise. They decided to emigrate to New Zealand in 1938 due to the imminence of war. However they found New Zealand was not a suitable economy in which to invest, and they moved on to Sydney in Australia where Aby invested in property and continued his bridge activities. Both sons studied medicine and were very successful. After the war Mary and Aby visited London, Aby still playing bridge, but he now preferred to be known as Bill.  By now he had a serious heart condition, and he eventually died from this when back in Sydney. Before emigrating Aby and Jim started a "Tote" club in Camberwell. This was a place where punters could back horses and dogs legally at tote odds, and there were other club facilities. However things did not go as well as was hoped and the club was closed, the families ending up bad friends. The reason for this break I cannot recall, but I know Aby was a difficult person to get along with. Philip married nurse Rita, while in England doing a post graduate course in anaesthetics. Mary was in London at the time, and was much aggrieved that she was not consulted, and was confronted with a fait accompli. They all returned to Australia, and soon after, Philip was killed in a tragic car accident. They had three children, Anne, Jane and Philip. Rita re-married to Dennis Gentle but remained a very devoted daughter-in-law to Mary, proving Mary's assessment of the marriage wrong. David married Ruth who is a concert pianist and had three children, Miriam, Peter and Jonathan. David gave up a lucrative practice in Melbourne, and came to London with his family to study tropical medicine and population control. However, David and Ruth were not happy, and they were divorced. They both remarried, David to Helen whom he knew in Australia and they have a daughter Aviva, and Ruth married Michael.  David gave up medicine and derived his main income from property in Australia and also writes, and is much of a globetrotter. He held the position of Director of Commonwealth Population Control under the British Government  for a while but found it pointless and frustrating and resigned*. Louise married Henry Kobler who is an engineer and they have two children. Louise lives just outside Sydney.

 

Mary paid regular visits to England but later had severe arthritis, and blood problems. She was unable to look after herself and spent two years in a comfortable Jewish home for old folk but was never reconciled to this. She died at the age of 80.

 

Louis and Hannah moved to Ilford and had three children; Michael, Brian and Gillian. During the war Hannah carried on the business when Louis was called up into the army. The business had changed from it's original style, and specialised in boys wear. Louis was drafted into the Signal Corps and served in Africa. Michael served in the R.A.F. and went into his fathers business when he was demobilised.  However he was never happy there and as he was keen on photography he eventually made that his career. After taking a job in a retail photographers he started his own business in Newton Abbot, Devon. He married Ann (non Jewish) and has four children.

Brian went to the London School of Economics, and studied law, qualifying as a solicitor with an L.L.B. He then left London, and worked in Plymouth where he married a relation of one of the partners. Her name is Frances and she also is not Jewish. They have four children. Brian has now left the profession, and after a course at Exeter University qualified as a social worker. Gillian worked in an office and shared a flat in Town with girl friends. She is a very good tennis player, and won a number of competitions. She eventually went abroad and worked for the United Nations, first in Geneva and later in Rome where she met and married a fellow employee Robert Thomas. They have a flat in Rome but have no children and seem to be very happy. At this time Louis retired and they moved into a modern flat at Newbury Park. They were both very active in the Jewish senior citizens club and made many friends. Hannah died suddenly in 1973 from a heart attack while visiting her family in the West Country.

 

Betty and I lived in Bedford Park for about seven years. Peter was born there in 1931 and soon after, I took a shop in Southall with £300 I borrowed from my Father, but business was tough. We later changed the business of the shop in Chiswick from Men’s wear to Ladies wear with the trading name of Marlene. Betty was thus able to use her talents again there. However the shop was too small to achieve any worthwhile success and we sold it to a tobacconists, and with the premium took a much larger shop in Southall which was actually a double shop and had two self contained flats over it. These premises were newly built and we occupied the first floor, subletting the second. Our expenses were small, and we got along nicely enough. The interior of the shop was quite large and we had table tennis parties there by removing the gown rails which were normally in the centre of the shop. Mary and Aby, Ray and Adolph Sidlow were frequent participants, Ray was a friend of Mary. She was Scottish, her maiden name was Segal and was a school teacher. Adolph was Belgian who came to England after the 1914/18 war. Also many friends who were keen table tennis players. Betty's school girl friend Molly had married Harold Duval who was in the food business, and they opened a delicatessen shop in Southall. He was a keen fisherman and discovered a really "off the beaten track" spot on the Thames at Bablockhythe. Bablockhythe is just west of Oxford and was reached by a ferry on to which you drove your car and pulled yourself across by chain. We jointly rented a converted railway carriage there and went to it every weekend. It was so quiet and peaceful that one lost all sense of a world outside. When the 1939 war began we evacuated there closing the ladies shop while I carried on with the men’s shop. Kit and Jim and family came down in a small coach and Hannah and Louis and family all joined us, although they found  that there  appeared to be no immediate danger in London we re-opened the ladies shop, Betty and her sister Lily commuting in alternate weeks. The railway carriage had primitive facilities and we rented a house at the nearby area known as Botley which was rather nearer Oxford, and Betty's sister Hetty joined us there. The house was called "Linga Longa". All this time I was a volunteer in the auxiliary fire service (A.F.S.) which I had joined prior to the war. There was a period of what was known as the "phoney war" and we all returned to London. When the air raids did start we resorted to a semi underground brick and concrete shelter which we had built, it had mains electricity, and was fitted with bunks and facilities for meals etc. I was doing regular duties in the A.F.S. where as an experienced driver, my services were in demand. I was given deferment from conscription on the grounds ! of being a one man business, and when eventually I had to go I opted for the R.A.F. but due to my training in the fire service I was directed to be a fireman.  Meanwhile my manager was called up into the army, but due to his flat feet they couldn't fit him with army boots, and he was discharged. This was very lucky for me for, as I was making up his pay to civilian standard he felt obligated to return to me, and he was able to carry on my business whilst I was away.

 

When we returned to London we sent Peter to a boarding school at Crewkerne at the age of nine. This was a heartbreaking experience for all of us, but circumstances demanded a move of this sort. After three years we transferred him to Malvern College which at that time was sharing the facilities at Harrow. This was nearer home, and the education was far superior. During the blitz we had raids regularly every night and had several near misses. My parents were still in East Ham and a remarkable incident occurred one night. Most of the local relations were gathered together at No 3 when they heard a terrific explosion quite near. My mother went to the front door to investigate, and found what appeared to be a boiler barring her way on the doorstep. Wandering what crazy person could deliver a boiler on a night like this, she made her way past it and wandered into the street where a policeman grabbed her and led her away. What had happened was that a plane had dropped a pair of land mines (they were dropped by parachute in pairs, being attached to each wing in pairs and had to balance).        One had landed half way down Gladstone Avenue and exploded with devastating effect, the other had it's parachute caught on the chimney stack of No 3 and the actual mine had not made contact with the ground and was swinging free. All the area was evacuated including the persons in the house, and my father, and mother didn't know what had happened to each other until the next day since they were each sent to different centres as the time.

 

During my service in the N.F.S. (this is what we were now known as), I became a discussion group leader and went from station to station promoting and leading discussions on chosen subjects. Prior to the opening of the second front I was transferred to a mobile unit to travel anywhere in the country as a self contained unit in an emergency. When the invasion of France began we were moved to a camp near Southampton. Our job was to give fire cover to the loading of drums of petrol on to ships crossing to Normandy. We had special foam apparatus for dealing with such fires, and as long as nothing happened all went well. One day, I was approached by the officer in charge while at the dockside, and told that I was to be sent back to Southall as all the windows of the Merlane shop had been blasted, and although no-one was hurt, I was needed to assist my wife. Actually Betty had done very well; she had pleaded with our builder that she was "a woman alone" and was given priority in having the windows boarded up. The damage at this stage of the war was caused by flying bombs which were launched from France and Western Germany with sufficient fuel to various parts of S.E. England, but mainly London, and when this fuel was exhausted the bomb fell to earth.

 

Malvern College, which had been requisitioned by the government to house certain "boffins" for radar research, moved back to Malvern in 1946/7 and in 1947 we had one of our severest winters, and best summers. In 1947 Betty and I took a long promised holiday to the US and met our cousins over there for the first time. Betty had aunts, uncles and cousins and I had the Goldbergs, Saybells, Berlyns and the Swidlers. We had contact with some of my mothers relations during the war when they came to England in the services. Some of these half sisters and brothers had given their soldier sons our address, and also the younger generation of the Berlyns had visited us. We were invited to some obscure cousins in Syracuse, and met literally dozens of relations who claimed various degrees of kinship. One of the ideas in making this visit was to consider emigrating, but we decided that we preferred our way of life to theirs. In 1949 Peter was articled to the solicitors, Gouldens. We had hoped he would go to university first, but the authorities there insisted that he did his army service first. Feeling that this might interrupt the rhythm of his studies we arranged that he be articled, and this entitled him to deferment. He qualified in 1954, and was rejected for army service because of previous attack of jaundice requiring a careful diet. He liked to play the piano and had some fine teachers who, whilst they encouraged him to go further with his music assuring him that he would derive much pleasure from it, pointed out the financial precariousness of making a career of it. In 1957, he married Sybil Flack whom he met at a party, and they have two daughters Sara and Juliette. Unfortunately Sybil lost both her parents within the space of six months, and her only brother Julian died of a heart attack two years later.

 

Betty had a coronary thrombosis in 1951 and has had to be careful ever since. The amazing part of this was that our doctor and I decided that it would be better if Betty was not told of the exact nature of the heart trouble as it would unduly alarm her. It was not until some 25 years later that the truth slipped out. When she heard she sat down and cried !  We moved from Southall to a flat in Haven Green Court, Ealing. Betty retired in 1970 and I followed a couple of years later.

Harry had taken over Aby's shop in Hammersmith, and lived in Barnes. They have two children Pamela and Robert. They also started a business supplying and cleaning overalls on a maintenance basis known as Lloyds Overall Service. This went very well, Gladys putting in a lot of work in this venture. They eventually sold out to the Initial Towel Co. for a handsome sum. Harry employed cousin Joe Zolawski in his shop but unfortunately there was some unpleasantness in the manner of his leaving. They moved to Delamere Road, Ealing where they took an active part in the community. When war came Harry joined up in the Intelligence Corps. He had a flair for languages and rose to the rank of captain. While stationed in Cairo he visited Palestine as it was then known on one of his leaves and became Zionistically minded.

 

When my Father died in his sleep in 1942 aged 72, my mother wanted to stay on in East Ham and have Ray living with her. Ray was however persuaded to change her mind in spite of the many advantages which would have accrued. Consequently Mother chose to stay with Gladys who had her sister Bessie staying, and with their children were running a household. Mother stayed with us for a while at our invitation, but she decided that as Betty was in business and there was-no one else around during the day, it would suit her better at Gladys's. Mother suffered from an asthmatic heart condition, and she died in Action Cottage Hospital from cardiac asthma in 1945 aged 77.Gladys was looking after the shop while Harry was away, and when he was demobolised he found it difficult to settle down. When in 1948 the State of Israel was proclaimed, he volunteered to help in its defence against the Arab states. With his army expertise, he was made security officer for Jerusalem. At this time there was a recruiting drive in England for service in Israel, and having previously expressed an opinion that we couldn't buy Palestine and would have to fight for it I felt it incumbent on me to offer my services, but they were not interested in my fire fighting experience or my driving, and suggested I would be more useful fund raising in England. Harry and his family all emigrated to Israel and his invaluable work there is history. He came to London for a year or two to promote Aliyah, and then again as Director of the J.N.F. for three years, during which time Robert went to Carmel College. Harry returned to his job at the Keren Kayemeth between times maintaining his seniority there. He also went to South Africa to promote the J.N.F. work there, and has made friends all over the world. He was very well known and lionised in Jerusalem for his radio broadcasts of the news in English under the name of Aryah Sagall. At the age of 69 he was planning a grand retirement programme when he died suddenly on the operating table following stomach pains. For two or three years before this Gladys was having treatment for cancer which has been very successful.

Pamela married Werner Loval who was in the diplomatic service, and is now in property and is doing well. Pamela was for many years secretary to the President of the Hebrew University, they have four children, Jonathan, Benjamin, Debbie and Daphna. Robert or rather Robbie as he is generally known qualified as a lawyer, married Ruthie, and has two children Danny and Michal. He chose to enter the legal department of the diplomatic service and took an important part in the Camp David, Geneva, Cairo and New York negotiations. He is at present Political Counsellor to the Israeli Embassy in Washington (Robbie now has Cabinet rank as Legal Adviser in Jerusalem).

The oldest son of the Sabel family is Hyman. He went to the US but was denied admission because he couldn't show sufficient money. Whilst still in Ellis Island he changed his name to Goldberg begged or borrowed the requisite finance and was admitted - or so the story goes. He married and had five children, Rose (Silverman) deceased, Louis (deceased), Jack (deceased), Alex who changed his name to Saybell spelling it that way in order to ensure its proper pronunciation, and May Gutmann). Louis married Diane and is a lawyer/accountant and lives in Sioux City. Jack married Mary but had no children. Jack and Alex were partners in a thriving electrical renting business in the heart of New York. May was married to Murray who died quite young, and she re-married Walter Gutmann, and are retired and live in Florida. May had two children, Bill and Irene, by her first husband

My father Abraham was the second oldest and Barnett was the next in age. He lost his first wife soon after they married and he re-married to Minnie. Their family were Israel (Jim), Aby, Charlie, Jack and Hannah. Jim and Hannah, I have already written of as the partners of Kit and Louis respectively. Charlie was a particularly well liked but had a heart condition. He was employed by the East Ham Electricity Co as a clerk (towns had their own electricity supply, some producing their own, others buying it from a central source). At the time I was still at school and he would often treat us to the cinema known as the Queens in Forest Gate which was the only cinema open on a Sunday. He was the first one to have a gramophone - a beauty with a magnificent horn, a crystal set, developed his own films, ran a "bank", and gained a reputation for inventing apt phrases and catch words. He coined the word "dub" for W.C. and came out with phrases like "aussi tot que" - see to the crease. He left the Electricity company when Jim got him a job with Columbia Films, and he was able to provide us with tickets for trade shows. He was introduced to Tilly and they married, and had a son Derek. They were I believe reasonably happy and Tilly adored him, but she and the in-laws did not hit it off, and made things very uncomfortable for Charlie. Derek qualified as a dentist and is also married. Charlie's job at Columbia progressed to a very responsible one and he was very highly thought of. Unfortunately he died at a very young age and Tilly didn't survive him long. Derek was aware of the strained feelings between his mother and the Sabels, and has distanced himself ever since. Charlie was one of the most popular men I know, and was universally liked by the opposite sex. I still cherish a high regard for him and feel I still owe him and his family a debt.

 

Jack was a different kettle of fish. He was good natured and liked by most people outside the family. He was very good at all sports, and his career included a spell in the Merchant Navy and the Army. He eventually married Louise who was a cashier at a cinema in Wanstead which Jim managed. She fell in love with him, and had a very good influence on him. They had one son Clive who was very clever and won a state scholarship to university. He went out to Rhodesia in the capacity of an administrator and married Maureen. They have two sons.  Jack died at the age of 69. Hannah was the only girl, and prior to her marriage worked in an office.

 

Marx was the next brother in line, he married Becky Wright and had a daughter Hannah and sons Sidney and Morty. He worked in the workshop for a while as a tailor, then went to the US where Sidney was born. Somewhere along the line he learnt ladies tailoring, but he wasn't successful in America and returned to the workshop in East Ham. Hannah married Mark Freeman who managed a cinema. They had two daughters Joyce and Marilyn. Mark went to South Africa after having a divorce and died there. Sidney worked in an office for a while, he married Phyllis and had a daughter Valerie. He then had a small menswear shop in Highbury but did not do well. After serving in the Army he joined with Morty in a successful men’s shop in Whitechapel where their father ran the tailoring department. Valerie was a very attractive girl is married with a son and a daughter. Sidney died at the age of 69 while having a bath. Hannah died in December 1982.

 

Morty married Lily Raingold who was a relation of the owner of the menswear shop where he worked. He subsequently joined with Sidney in business. They have one son Malcolm who is married to Sheila, but they have no children. They also have a daughter Marcia who has been married, divorced and remarried and has three children. Morty died at the age of 71 while in hospital and the business including the freehold property was sold, but Malcolm continued with a small adjacent shop which he operated as a boutique.

 

Eva was older than Marx and younger than Barnet, she like the others attempted to leave Russia at night without exit visas and together with a group were stopped at the German frontier and arrested. However the guide was able to supply the necessary bribe and they were released and allowed to cross the border. After a long delay they boarded a boat and came to England to be sent to the shelter in Leman Street where her brothers came for her. She was about 17 at the time and about three years later married Harris Barst. He worked in the workshop for Father and Uncle Barnet but at 36 he suffered a stroke which paralysed him down one side. He was ill for twenty five years, twenty of which he spent in the Tottenham Home for Incurables. I visited him with my parents and remember that he had a very clear mind and took his misfortune very philosophically. He died in 1936. After he had his stroke Eva opened a small grocery shop in the East End but this didn't turn out a financial success and following several moves my Father provided the family with a house in Gladstone Avenue which he had bought and I gather the rent he charged was one they could afford to pay. Harris had belonged to a friendly society which in those days was the usual method of working people to insure against misfortunes of this sort, but the income received was never sufficient. The eldest daughter Sarah married Jack Miller who was a tailor and made a living. She was a very attractive girl and they had one son who did quite well in a local job and was very devoted to his parents. Somewhat late in life Jenny married Marcus who was a widower and had a daughter Rene. He was a hairdresser in the West End and due to trouble with his legs had to give up working. He later died from a thrombosis in the leg, although it was amputated. Louis was introduced to Marie Cohen by Harry and Gladys and he also married rather late in life. They have no children and Marie has a fine voice and sang with the BBC Chorus and the Reform Shul Choirs. Louis being the only son was a great help in keeping the family budget in credit. He had a good job with a scrap merchants. Marie died from a stroke in December 1982. Alice was the youngest and was born with no roof to her mouth. This was a great handicap to her and she was very conscious of her affliction. She did hold down a job in the packing department at Harrods but she began to suffer from constant headaches in later life and died at 69. She had a sad life.

 

Annie was married to Maurice Rosenbloom who worked as a machinist in the workshop, and they had one son Louis. Maurice did not have good health and moved to Southend where he opened a cafe/stall by the sea with the help of many injections of finance from the brothers Abraham and Barnet. Louis was a competent violinist and ran his own band. He appeared on the stage in an Archie Pit revue "Mr Tower of London" in which Gracie Fields who was Archie Pit’s second wife, took the star part. Here Louis met Archie's daughter by his first marriage, and she fell in love with him and they married and had a daughter Jacqueline. The romance soon wore off and they were divorced. Louis had given up his musical career and helped with the family business in Southend. His health deteriorated and although he remarried a lovely person named Dorothy, he died at the age of 69. Maurice died at a comparatively early age but Annie lived to a ripe old age. Louis' family still live in Southend where Jaqueline married Maurice Swain and have two daughter Carole and Janice.

 

Joe married Annie Wright (Becky's sister) and was a tailor and started work in the workshop when he arrived in England from Russia. He moved on to New York and had two sons Mark and Sidney. Although they were there quite a long time they never made out too well. Father and Barnet gave him the impression that he could do better with them in London and he came. I gather that he felt that he had been let down, and apparently had different ideas of a way of life which he had expected to find. He soon returned to New York where he worked as an alteration tailor in one of the stores. It seems that even this type of job offered a better standard of life than that enjoyed(?) in England. Annie had some family in New York and this was a strong attraction for her. However Joe worked very hard and the last time we saw them in 1966 he looked worn out. They both died within a couple of years after.

Sam was the youngest son, but he was never a worker and was regarded as being rather eccentric. He married a rather nice woman, both rather later in life but in time to have two daughters. They are very attractive girls but their mother died while they were still quite young and one of them went to the Norwood Orphanage. I believe they are both now in the US and doing quite well, but we have no contact with them.

 

Hanky (Hannah) the youngest child was born with a slight infirmity of a curved back arid lived with her parents in Philpot Street until she was found a husband. They had three daughters all very attractive and one named Bella contacted me when  Morty died. She is married and is working in the clothing trade, where her husband Manny Penner is a shop steward; they live in the East End. All the girls are married but ,their parents died quite young.

 

My paternal grandparents lived in Philpot Street from the time they arrived in England. Grandfather Benjamin David (Zada) was a tall upright man with a long white beard. He would travel by district train from Whitechapel to East Ham once a week, with a top hat and long black coat, and the staff at East Ham Station got to know him and respected him. Looking back I realize he must have called for his weekly allowance since the only occupation he ever had was to act as "shumas" in a small shul and sell kosher wine on commission. He died in his mid 70s from prostate trouble which had been neglected, and at that time they couldn't treat. My "Bobba" was a small wrinkled lady with a "sheitle" and always had a supply of Russian type sweets known as cherkerkeys to offer us when we visited. She spoke very little English and was always telling us in yiddish that last night she nearly passed out - "a farbyicka", When she was widowed her mind went back to her childhood days in Russia. She spent her latter years in a Jewish old age home and died there in her 70s.

 

Of my Mothers relations in the US, we are still in touch with Katie Berlyn and the younger generation. Hyman and Dorothy have two sons Sheldon and Gerry, Hymie died quite young and his widow lives in Florida in a house owned by Gerry. A cousin of his also lives in Florida; he is Sydney Berlyn* who lost his first wife Lillian and has remarried.  Sydney died of a heart attack in 1983 and Dorothy has since died. Katie visits her nephews during the winter, the warm weather being very helpful in her somewhat frail condition. We have largely lost touch with the others although we did come across a distant cousin named Hammer while in Jerusalem. Their son had emigrated there and had contacted Harry. They are one of the relations we met in Syracuse.

 

Eva Zolowski was a half sister who married Barnet Zolawski and lived in Barking. They had four children, Jessie, Joe, Daisy and Annie. Barnet had a modest menswear cum tailor repair shop with accommodation, but he paid his way. Jessie married Max Jackson (later known as Mark) whom she met through their mutual enthusiasm for dancing. He was a Master Baker having at one time several shops and was prosperous. They have a son and daughter who are both married with children. Max died in 1981.

 

Joe married a cousin Miriam but he died relatively young. They had no children, he held down several jobs including that of a bus conductor, and salesman in Harry's shop in Hammersmith. Daisy spent most of her life in a mental home. Something went wrong at puberty and her mind was affected. Her family tried keeping her at home but she could not cope with the outside world and was happy to stay in the institution. Jessie and Daisy are the only survivors of this family. Annie died in her 20s.

 

 

Milly was the other half sister and she married Ike Weinstein. I remember acting as a page boy at this wedding dressed as a shepherds crook. Ike was quite a character and was renown for pinching the girls cheeks with such a grip that they were bruised for days afterwards. He was a very good cabinet maker and a real tough guy. They lived in very poor conditions in the East End. They had a son Myer (later known as Mick) and a daughter Doris. Mick was an owner taxi driver and did quite well; he is now semi retired. Doris married a man much older than herself but never seemed to have achieved much. Milly and Ike are both now dead.

 

Betty's parents came from Russia in similar circumstances to the others. They were quite a bit younger than my parents, and her father very enterprisingly learnt to read and write. His original name was Lazarus Rubenstein but preferred to be known as Lazarus for his surname. He had the address of distant cousins named Rubenstein who lived in Shepherds Bush and that was where he first settled. A short time after this, his future wife Sarah came to England from Russia where they had known each other. After their marriage Lazarus started a tailoring repair and alteration shop in Church Street Kensington. He did work for many of the "gentlemen" who lived in this area and it was through calling at their houses that he acquired an interest in antiques. He played the violin but was entirely self taught. Betty and her sister Hetty were born here and Betty can remember the suffragettes holding meetings at the street corner and her Father rented them a room at the back of the shop for a few hours where they held some of their- meetings. They moved from Kensington to Hammersmith where Lazarus opened a shop for ready-made clothing with accommodation over it. Lily was born here, 13 years after Betty. The parents visited Russia after the 1914/18 war taking Lily with them at the aged five. They brought some fabulous photographs just like "Fiddler on the Roof". Father-in-law was a very enterprising man, he had a post card size folding Kodak at a time when photography was by no means universal. This camera would have been a collectors item had we kept it. He also had one of the first radio sets with a huge horn loud speaker with valves that lit up the room. I understand that he sold one of his sets to Charles Clore who at that time travelled for his father who was a clothing manufacturer. Mr Lazarus was also one of the first of his contemporaries to have car which was a round nosed Morris Cowley.

Rose Pearl Grace was another cousin from the US who visited England quite often. Her mother was one of my Mother’s half sisters and she had married Mr Grace who had a store in Worcester Mass, and had made quite a lot of money. He had a reputation of being rather a mean person and was rather eccentric, in this latter respect his daughter took after him. She had a very good education and was brilliant. She took a job as a journalist, and married a nice man named Oppenheimer and I am afraid she gave him a hell of a time. She died quite young.

 

ANECDOTES

An episode which stands out in my mind was a trip Louis, Harry and I used to make in the summer. Chilly's bike had been handed down to Louis and we would start out at 5 am to go for a swim in Wanstead Park lake. Louis would ride with one of us on the step at the back for about a mile. Drop him and ride back to pick up the other one who had started walking. We would do this in relays until we reached our destination. It was too early for the trams and in any case we wanted to save our pennies. The funny side of this to me was the fact that I could not even swim !

 

An historic memory of my boyhood was during the 1914/18 war, Dr Chaim Weitzman (he was a doctor of chemistry) discovered a method of making a scarce ingredient of TNT explosives from "conkers" (horse chestnuts). To further this project our whole class at school were provided with sacks and sent to the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park to collect conkers which were to be found there in abundance. You can imagine how we enjoyed this as an alternative to lessons. It was because of this discovery that Weitzman was offered a reward of his choice by Lloyd George and he asked for a home for the Jews in Palestine. Lloyd George was in sympathy with the Zionist cause from a religious angle and the result was the Balfour Declaration.

The first one in our family to have a car was Aby Wolfers. He had a Citroen "Clover Leaf" model which held three, Louis, Harry and I were mad on cars and learned the workings of the clutch, gear lever etc from a Ford manual. When Aby visited us at East Ham he left the car parked outside the house and we took it and drove around the block. In the meantime Aby came out of the house and found the car missing; he nearly went mad, and I don't know bow he refrained from killing us when we returned. Perhaps he was too relieved to have the car back safe and sound.

 

Some years later Louis bought a second hand A.C. car. It was a quality car and we all learned a lot from it. In those days the placing of the control pedals was not standardised. On the Morris which I had driven the accelerator was in the centre but on the A. C . it was on the right. I drove Louis' car being the only one of us who had any experience driving, and promptly pressed the accelerator instead of the brake and finished up across the pavement against a fence. It being very early on a Sunday morning no harm was done.

 

At the start of the 1914/18 war there were two air forces, the royal Flying Corps attached to the Army and the Royal Naval Air Service serving the Navy. The. RFC had a training aerodrome at Fairlop near Barkinside and Harry and I went there to watch these biplanes flying which was very much of a novelty at this time. It was quite a long walk and on the way back we asked an adult couple for the correct direction and when we told them where we were making for they gave us the money to go by tram. However I can still see the tragedy that occurred when a training pilot did not pull out of a corkscrew dive and crashed full tilt into the ground.

 

One of the popular outings in the pre First World War days was to take a paddle steamer from Tower Bridge pier to Margate. On one occasion I was in Margate under the charge of Chilly and Kit, Mary came dawn at a later date Chilly was most concerned however that my parents had not sent any extra money to cover the extra cost. It was not until we got home that we found that Father had sewn a golden Sovereign into the hem of her coat and she had forgotten all about it.

 

After the First World War radio was coming into its own and the station 2LO broadcast from Savoy Hill. I had great enjoyment listening to the Savoy Orpheans and Savoy Havana bands on a crystal set my cousin Charlie had rigged up. He was the one who had the first set and we would run flex from his set next door to our bedroom. Somewhat later there were sets with valves, and a loud speaker. It was a great occasion when we heard Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks on their first visit to London.

 

Betty tells of an event when her Uncle Jack (her Father's younger brother) arrived in London from Russia. He arrived at her parents home when she was about three years of age. Jack was dressed in a very sober Russian style and being of a dark complexion presented an awesome figure. She was so scared, she hid under the bed, and it took all her parents' cajoling to get her out again.

 

In 1926 the only general strike this country has known occurred. I was in business in Chiswick, and realising that I would not be able to commute I rented a room in the locality. All means of public transport stopped but volunteers from the general public drove buses, and same trains with police protection.  On the half day that my business was closed I was able to travel and return by one of these trains to visit my parents in Manor Park. There were many ugly scenes as workers attempted to stop trams and buses but the strike was called off as a failure. It lasted from the 3rd of May until the 12th of May.

 

1923 was the year the first cup final was played at the newly built Wembley Stadium. The newspapers told us that everyone would be able to get into this ground which was the largest in England. West Ham who were my favourite team reached the final for the first time in their existence. Chilly took me along to see this match, and when we got there they were closing the turnstiles but they let a few more in including us. However, they could not stop people climbing over the gates, and getting in - even without paying. It is estimated that 200,00 people got into the ground. Apparently the pitch was so packed with people that there was no hope of getting the game started. In spite of this a policeman on a  white horse gradually edged the crowd off the pitch, and the game started about an hour late. Chilly and I were fortunate in getting to the top of the terrace where we were comparatively comfortable. West Ham lost to Bolton Wanderers 2.0.

 

Soon after we married, we would visit my parents about once a week, travelling by train. On returning from East Ham station the train was quite crowded and we had to strap hang although it was quite late in the evening. Betty noticed two men eyeing her engagement ring, and showing too much interest. I was rather sceptical when she told me of this, but we decided that if the men did not alight by the time we reached Hammersmith we would assume they were up to no good. I had travelled daily by this route when I was single, and never knew any other passenger travel all the way to Turnham Green. We planned that we would not get up from our seats until the train stopped and see that these men did. They did get up immediately after we did, and while we dashed through the ticket barrier they were held up paying excess fare. Luckily there was a taxi at the rank outside the station, and as we drove off we saw these men looking up and down the street wondering where we had gone. There were no other taxis on the rank, and we now felt safe. Since then Betty will never wear jewellery during the day unless travelling by car.

 

One of the worst experience of our lives was when we travelled over land to Israel in 1951. We had with fourteen packages of goods and food most of which had been specially requested, everything being either unobtainable or in short supply. We went via Dover, Calais, Paris and overnight to Genoa where we boarded a ship for Haifa. Peter was with us and we had booked a sleeping compartment which the attendant locked when we arrived at Paris for an hours stop, while we had a walk round. We were told that the train would be transferred to another platform and made a note of which one. We returned within half an hour but found the carriage in which we were travelling was not on the train at the platform which had been indicated to us. We looked around the other platforms enquiring, making ourselves understood in French as best we could and even enlisted a Cooks representative to help. Eventually we carne to the conclusion that our carriage must be on the train which we had originally looked at. As we entered the platform to re-examine it, it drew out in front of our eyes. We were really in a fix, all our personal effects passports etc were locked in our compartment and all we had were our tickets and a little money. We sent a telegram to the station at Modane which is the frontier station between France and Italy requested that they unload our packages and personal items including passports, travellers cheques etc. We were able to catch a slower train, after a rough journey in a couchette we arrived at Modane and found all our belongings had been locked away in a shed, even to the smallest item ! Although we still had to make our way through Italy, changing at Turin we arrived at the dockside in Genoa one hour before the ship sailed. When we changed trains at Turin our packages had to be transferred from the luggage compartment of one train to that of the other at a different platform. After our previous experience we would not let the baggage out of our sight and the porter moving it must have thought "these English are crazy". We often wonder whether the worry and anxiety over these hours affected our health over the long term.

 

My Bobba always looked old to me, nevertheless she must have been in her 70s at this time and rarely went out. She would sit at her window in Philpot Street which was directly opposite a large shul and on Sundays there was a stream of weddings, every half hour. She was heard to say in Yiddish "Doss is allus voss licked za in cop". That is all they have to think about.

 

Our ladies shop in Chiswick was named Marlene and when we sold the lease of these premises and opened in Southall we used the same name. We then had a letter from the solicitors of Marlene of Bruton Street stating that this was their registered name for millinery and threatening legal action. We had the name of the facia in neon and to have replaced this with another name would have been an expense we could ill afford. We had the idea of transposing the "E" with the "A" making the name Merlane. This was agreeable to Marlene of Bruton Street and that was how the name Merlane was created.

 

* Denotes, updated 1986.