All our yesterdays – The past is a foreign country

Part 12 of our blog series taking a retrospective look back at the history of our community – 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).

Back in 1978, according to that September’s Kingston News, we were planning a dinner and ball at Kempton Park so lavish and expensive that ‘the Social Activities Committee is prepared to take payment for the tickets in three instalments’. (Guesses, please, as to how much the tickets cost. The closest guess will receive an honourable mention in these pages: times are hard – I can’t afford actual prizes. Nick O, who chaired the ball fundraising committee in those distant days, is disqualified from entering.)

It wasn’t all glitzy nights at the racecourse. Is there anyone nowadays with the skill and dedication of ARB, able and willing to design and build dolls’ houses three years running, to be given as raffle prizes: a Tudor house, a Victorian four-storey residence and a ‘typical suburban house’ (complete with mezuzah). How large would a dolls’ house mezuzah be? 

Could we nowadays run a summer fair so popular that there would be queues of Long Ditton residents snaking down Rushett Road before the gates opened? Could we successfully operate a cream tea room (‘which looked suspiciously like three of the Religion School classrooms’)? Would we attract visitors who ‘used to go to school in our building and were very nostalgic about it’? Could we find ‘an octogenarian friend of our Congregation’ like Miss EF to knit many sets of dolls’ clothes to sell at the fair?

I suspect that the answer to all these questions (apart from the mezuzah one) is ‘No’.

Some things have continued and indeed flourished. There was and is the annual rounders afternoon at Marble Hill Park (‘The two teams were captained by Paul L and Nick O, and I think, on balance, that Paul’s team beat Nick’s’). Kadimah – though the tradition has now been lost of asking a participant to write about it in KN (‘On Sunday, July 31, large flocks of people gathered outside the Montague Centre’ – they don’t build metaphors like that nowadays). Religion School – though this met on Sundays, involved the mystery of the Orbit Club (with three One-Star members) and included such activities (unexplained in KN) as a Rosh Hashanah Factory.

Annual Rounders match in 2019 – no longer in Marble Hill Park

But much of the past remains foreign to those of us not in KLS at the time. When did we stop loaning synagogue equipment to members, with WJ’s very systematic price list and house rules: ‘No use of Synagogue equipment of any kind may be made unless a request has been made in advance to the Chairman of the House Committee’  – Yes, Ma’am! When was it decided that notices such as ‘LADIES, ARE YOU FREE ON SEPTEMBER 13?’, an invitation to a coffee morning and bring and buy sale at South London Liberal Synagogue, might not be appropriate? And when and why did Golden Lady, ‘the fashion shop with the mostest’, in downtown Teddington, stop advertising in KN. Can we get them back again?     (Ed: no).