All our yesterdays – Lord Olivier and children’s socks

Part 13 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – Summer 1978

Back in 2014-5, KLS Member Howard Webber wrote a series of articles for our community magazine casting a light on days gone by. He had been looking through copies of our publications from the inception of our community in 1967 and throughout the Seventies. We are now re-publishing these articles for a wider audience – we hope you will enjoy Howard’s inimitable style as he accompanies us into yesteryear…….(please note, that where individuals are no longer with us, we refer to them by their initials).

A quiz question: what do a Nazi dentist with a dodgy accent, the encouragement of racial understanding in Kingston and a musical quiz have in common? The answer (of course) is that all featured in the July-August 1978 Kingston News.

No doubt my successor looking back in 2050 (Ed: or in 2021?) on the quaint doings of us in 2014 will be amazed at the range of offerings available at KLS; but certainly that is the key feeling I get as I leaf through the yellowing records of our past. Will that historical nerd of the future conclude that 1978 was more peaceful than 2014?  Where we offer krav maga, they had yoga… Will s/he be amazed and pleased that in 2014 the annual rounders and picnic event was still happening? (Ed: as it was in 2019 – and will be again in 2021 pandemic permitting!) At that time it was the exclusive province of the Young Marrieds (with no suggestion that Unmarrieds or Older Marrieds were welcome). Will the future historian wonder when and how it escaped the Young Marrieds’ stranglehold – and why, 36 years on, it remains at Marble Hill Park rather than at the recreation ground opposite KLS. Some obscure doctrinal reason, perhaps? Only asking…

Meanwhile, what a cornucopia of events: the Summer Fair in aid of the Mavis Robinson Award Fund (White Elephant goods requested), the creditable performance of the Religion School sports squad at the ULPS Sports (‘by a hairsbreadth missing the Sam Ansell Cup awarded to a smaller congregation with the best overall result’), the Special General Meeting to elect KLS’ Board of Deputies representative (was this a hotly contested honour?)…        

And so many notices and adverts. What story lies behind WJ (‘House Committee Chairman’ – what?) seeking to dispose of goods left behind in the building: ‘a beautiful tallit bag, a plastic box and a pair of child’s socks’? How did Religion School pupil MC become an Orbit Club One-Star Member? What was the Orbit Club? Did A Samuels, kosher butcher of Red Lion St, Richmond, twenty years closed, think that he would attract much custom by advertising in KN? Probably as much as Timeg Fashion Overalls and Panic Services.      

But – to return to my opening question – the July 1978 issue did announce the formation of what was then called the Kingston Group for Racial Understanding; it is good to think that this began as a joint initiative of the Kingston Quakers and KLS (our own GW and PF-J). The musical quiz was the Women’s Society’s final meeting before the summer break – an attempt to cope with the feelings of rejection at being excluded from the Young Marrieds’ rounders and picnic. And advertising coming delights, KN reminded everyone to keep 20 September free for a special showing of Marathon Man, with Dustin Hoffman and appallingly-accented Nazi dentist Laurence Olivier. Just in time for the High Holydays.

Truly, all human life was there.           

“Laurence Olivier – in ”The Marathon Man” 1976″ by Movie-Fan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0