Part 2 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community.
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).
I opened at random the impressive, weighty, bound volume of Kingston News August 1967-December 1971. It revealed to me the happenings of the end of 1968 and early 1969.
In December 1968, one Mrs FM was among our new members. And PFJ reported that ‘nine-years-old Jane Ward’ had not only won third prize in the Grand Final of the Weymouth Junior Talent Competition, playing her own composition on the organ, but had come first in the set piece competition at Sutton Music Festival. (Editor’s note: Jane Ward is still very much with us – and you can meet her in episode 6 of (Our Lockdown Stories)
But I really struck gold with the January 1969 issue: this recorded the formation of the Young Marrieds! It began quietly enough, with a coffee evening at the R’s on January 18; but all the warning signs were there from the start.
Exhibit A: The Young Marrieds’ interesting attitude to older people. Prospective members were told that if they could not ‘find a babysitter for the evening… we have “aged” members who have volunteered to help’.
Exhibit B: The determination to be well organised. The first meeting spent much of its time electing Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer and making financial arrangements. (It was decided that each couple would contribute 2/6 per meeting. If you know what ‘2/6’ means, are you now or have you ever been a Young Married?)
Exhibit C: the first of many discussions on a favourite topic. ‘By “young marrieds” we mean a limit of 35-years-old (give or take a year!). We don’t ask anyone his or her age….’. Jolly decent of them.
Exhibit D: A famous rivalry. The Young Marrieds’ second meeting, in February 1968, was a talk on first aid in the home. (The KN report on this was given the somewhat menacing headline: ONWARD THE “YOUNG MARRIEDS”.) They cunningly managed to enter this crowded market before the Women’s Society, whose March meeting was a talk on – yes – first aid in the home. The Women’s Society was forced to offer inducements – a demonstration of the kiss of life – to counter this insidious threat.
But the Women’s Society did have a secret weapon, in the form of KN’s editor, PFJ. P seems to have done everything in journalism at one time or another in her career. According to the Kingston Guardian, P’s time at the Rank Corporation saw her ‘jetting across the UK and abroad to script and produce human interest shorts called Look at Life’. (If you remember Look at Life, please refer to my comment on ‘2/6’ above.) Anyway, in February she gave an illustrated talk about the Look at Life films – had I been excluded from such a talk, I would have felt myself a victim of serious gender discrimination.
And – oh yes – in March 1969 Kingston and District Progressive Jewish Congregation (why did we ever lose this snappy moniker?) had its first Confirmation, at a time when, so my in-house experts tell me, we just didn’t do Barmitzvahs; let alone Batmitzvahs.