Liverpool memories #2

There were four of us. The Fab Four only it was pre-Beatles time in bustling Liverpool. My best friend throughout my childhood and teens was Maureen Lyons who was with me in Belvedere GPDST, school for young ladies in Princes Park.  We did everything together after school and both lived in Childwall.

We were inseparable with Carole Beilin who also was at Belvedere and whose Russian grandparents who spoke Yiddish lived in a big house on Queens Drive where it intersected Woolton Road. It was the first time I had heard the language as our family had been in England for three generations. Carole lived there with her father, a divorced doctor and her uncle Stanley also a doctor but a bachelor. Her mother had remarried and lived in London. I knew via my mother that her father kept his mistress Muriel and had set her up in a hairdressing salon. My mother was one of her faithful clients every Friday without fail and so put two and two together!

Carole's best friend Estelle Irving went to different school and had an older Russian father and an attractive blonde younger mother but I only met them once or twice because they did not live in the Jewish community area which was Woolton, Childwall, Gatacre and Allerton however the main synagogue was in Princes Road in Toxteth  known as the Jungle, Liverpool 8.

We Fab Four got on so well and went to weekly Sunday dances jiving at the rundown community centre in Princes Road right opposite the beautiful Moorish and Gothic Grade 1 synagogue where my father was the Secretary.  I used to be taken to cheder in the centre as a child to study Hebrew with Reverend Abenson which I could read but only with the vowels. I had two left feet so could not jive or rock n roll to Bill Haley's groundbreaking 1955 'Rock around the clock.' I would sit like a wallflower watching and waiting for Prince Charming or even a Jewish Frog Prince to miraculously appear and jive me away over the rainbow!

I was 19 when I was invited by Carole, chaperoned by her uncle Stanley, to spend a long weekend in the Eternal City. I was so excited and impressed by the sophisticated city of Rome that I declared I was going to live there. While I was there eating my gelato from the 'Tre scalini', I threw a coin in the nearby Trevi Fountain and wished very hard. Well I had seen the movie 'Three coins in the fountain.' If you can dream it, you can do it, said Walt Disney and I did!

Italy was the fashionable destination to go on holiday in the 50s and 60s.  First I was taken on a motoring holiday by my parents to the Dolomites. Another year Riccione and Rimini, then Jesolo, near Venice and a year later to Alassio and San Remo. I was either car sick or had an upset tummy!

Italy influenced my teens tremendously. One year we Fab Four, aged 15, were allowed to go to Italy by ourselves. Our parents agreed to sending us on a trial run to Finale Ligure by the sea probably a package deal for a week. I recall posing for a photo where I was wearing a black sleeveless top with orange border, outlining the modest scooped neckline and sporting an orange nautical wheel in the centre. This time I enjoyed the delicious choice of pasta and salads, so different from the conventional cooking my mother made and this time no upset tummy! 

My mother's dishes were different every day but on a 7 day repeat rota. Baked salmon in foil on Friday when the candles were lit and brokhes (blessings) chanted by my father. My non religious mother was always present but silent, watching and waiting for the wine or bread blessings to be over so we could start to eat in the front room, the only evening it was ever inhabited!

Roast chicken on Sunday with home made bread sauce, crispy small roast potatoes and garden peas. Half a segmented grapefruit to start with sugar on top and served with a special serrated spoon. My mother had a handwritten book of recipes for meat balls in tomato sauce, chopped liver, chopped egg and onion and other traditional Jewish Ashkenazi dishes.  She also made the best omelettes ever in a small non-teflon pan only for making them. Delicious!

One day Maureen phoned me in tears to say that her father, who was also a doctor, was dead. He was on the job with his mistress when he had a heart attack at the final moment so it was an embarrassing scandal. Dr Lyons must have led a double life leaving his widow with three daughters and the house in Childwall but no cash in the bank!  What can one say at such a tender age? Poor Mrs Lyons, a sour miserable looking woman, had to go out to work, being of course raised to be a housewife and a mother. A sign of the times, women were the home makers.

After that, a devastated Maureen had to look after Fiona and Shayla her younger sisters, cooking and cleaning. She became fixated on marrying someone rich because she was used to the material things in life and did not want to give them up.  Suddenly overnight she had lost everything and was 'poor.'  I recall she went to New Orleans for the Carnaval and see some distant relatives. Anyhow she didn't come back with a rich husband. In those days there was not much choice for a girl who was not an academic like Maureen and myself for that matter.  Nursing, teacher training college, librarianship or to become a housewife and mother. No advice on more fulfilling careers.  No University of Life for provincial Liver Birds such as myself. No parental guidance either. I had to learn the hard way.

We all went our different ways at 19. Estelle went to Manchester University to study Personnel Management and encouraged me to leave home and join her, which I did. Later she would marry and move to Blackpool.

 Carole defied her father who banished her to London because she fell in love with John who was not Jewish. John immediately upped sticks and moved to London because they could not live without each other. The good doctor changed his mind after John converted and underwent circumcision for the love of his daughter. A hypocrite who had a non Jewish mistress! 

After moving to London in search of a husband, Maureen did marry a rude portly Jewish American banker living in London and it turned out had a house 5 minutes away from mine in Needham Road, London W11. We were to cross paths 20 years later by chance but my ex-best friend is a story for another time.


Wikipedia - Rock around the clock 1955 - blessings
Google - Princes Road synagogue
Wikipedia - Princes Road synagogue
Wikipedia -
Google - Trevi Fountain wish