London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

Site map of my personal journey through the Jewish East End of London

Jewish East End of London reminiscences of Redman's Road Talmud Torah old boy Dr Harold Fenton


Dr Harold Fenton - Redman's Rd Talmud Torah old boy, now living in Israel, writes of his early days in the Jewish East End of London  - thank you Harold for sharing your wonderfully evocative memories.

Harold writes.........Anna Tzelniker - the 'Queen of Lampedusa' in conversation at Nelson St Shul"The Grand Palais Yiddish Theatre Commercial Rd - now 'Flicks Fashions'Aaah! you mentioned if I recall something about the Yiddish Theatre. I think I was 9 years old when I  first went with my aunts to see the King of Lampedusa. We met both Tzelnikers. We went about once a month. I seem to remember that not only did we sit, stand, walk about, view and laugh but we also used to eat at the same time - I think there was a bar where you could get sandwiches and even a quarter chicken! I read and speak yiddish fluently which I learnt from going to this theatre and then practising with my mother! 
I  heard it was converted into a mosque about 50 years ago but I may be wrong about this.  Hackney Empire was also a 'regular' ; for films we went to the Troxy-Gaumont near Albert Gardens ( where there was a kids club on Saturday mornings) and also to the ABC in Mile End Road. Not far from there my cousins, the Parlons, had both a tobacco and gift shop as well a sweet-shop next door. this was opposite the Fox's grocery store.
IOn the corner of Great Garden St (now Greatorex St) and Whitechapel Rd, 1950's think that dances were held in the People's Palace in the early 1930's and I think that is where my parents met.
Along the Mile End Road mostly Jewish vendors would ply their wares on Saturdays, too, the busiest of all. I will try to remember some details about the (now famous) writer and the yiddish newspaper he sold in the street from about 1940, which became the only one in the UK and lasted the longest.  Does anyone recall Ben Garman's man's shop, the Granards haberdashery shop, Jacobs Ice-Cream parlour, Goldmans ladies' wear, the two pharmacies, Kosky's butcher shop and Percy Dalton's peanut factory  all next to each other along the Commercial Road near West Arbour Street that led into Arbour Square? Anyone recall Goldring's Cakes corner Jubilee Street/Commercial Road and then later in the market (forgot its name at the moment) opposite near the church? In Jubilee Street there lived the Fried family and Mr Abraham who for two shillings and sixpence a week taught me privately three times a week at home how to read fluently. It is to him that I owe my first faltering steps into orthodox Judaism.

Raine's Boys School - Cannon Street RoadIn Raine's School in Cannon St road, about 9 years later the anti-Semitic teacher of German, a Mr Don Lyons, (who was second in his anti-Semitism to a Mr Spooner, teacher of geography, who openly expressed his "dislike' of us) had to admit that my knowledge and pronunciation were far better than all my (non-Jewish) class mates; I was the only one who could pronounce the word 'selbsverstandlich" (umlaut on the 'a'- meantime self-evident or "of course')! This did not prevent being hit on the backside by a rubber gym shoe 5 or 10 times by Lyons if I ever forgot an umlaut. Physical punishment by teachers was encouraged as the norm then - even by our parents......for whom any kind of teacher was a supernatural being second only to a doctor. We  used to dress up in our best or Shabbat clothes whenever we had to see a doctor or dentist!)

Mentioning doctors, the local physician was a wonderful ex-Irishman Dr Jaffe....whom we loved as he loved us. He chain-smoked cigars in the heaviest fog and lived until he was 90!
(I am a pharmacologist-toxicologist and never understood, right up to today, how smokers survived the British climate-maybe they were "tougher" and worked harder....)

That is enough for the moment!  Best Wishes, Harold"

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