An exhibtion devoted to the history of the Brady Girls' Club opens in London on October 6. So it seemed a timely moment to republish these reminiscences of an iconic East End organisation originally published in our magazine The Cable in 2010.
My name is Barbara Stevens nee Kaye. Time goes by so quickly and one loses contact with friends from long ago, but Brady Club is ever in my mind. A few years ago I found a long lost Brady friend, Gloria Kranz (nee Clive) through Friends Reunited. We’d last met at age 16. She lived in America, but rang me immediately and we chatted for hours.
About six months after we spoke Gloria came to London and we had a wonderful reunion at the end of 2008 together with some other Hanbury Street Bradians: Barbara and Rosalind Goldstein, Irene and Janice Collins, Marion Delew, Rita Bloom, Ruth Goldberg, Sandra Mildener, Irene Smith, to name a few.
I recently had lunch with Irene Collins when we happened on some long forgotten tales of humour. Enjoying laughing at some tales of old I said “I would love to write a book bringing together as many East End Brady memories as I can”. Irene said “what a brilliant idea”. However, for this project I need as many members of yesteryear to deluge me with their humorous stories, recollections and reflections they could share.
I was born in 1942 and brought up in Brady Street Buildings, E.1. In 1953 my mother, father, brother Norman and I, moved to the other side of Whitechapel Road, Jubilee Street. I went to Deal Street primary school, later called Robert Montefiore, and at age of about 6 or 7, straight from school walked virtually across the road into Brady club. I remember my infants class – the first room on the right on entering. I remember the Succoth festivities and mainly, just having fun with loads of like-minded friends.
I had Hebrew lessons at Brady twice a week and still have my prize of a Passover Haggadah from Mrs Lipman dated 1954. I attended gym regularly at the club and went to sports at Victoria Park (Gloria Clive was gifted with being ‘the fastest runner ever’ at the time). I also ran, and was in the Relay races for Sports Day (it was me that dropped the baton!); but a good High Jumper for which I was awarded a Certificate signed by Miriam Moses dated 24th July 1956.
I also have photos of myself with other girls dancing in the Gym, together with holiday photos. Some remembered names were Pamela and Sandra Perkiss, Barbara Burbridge, Bernice Weinstein, Frances Kutner, Verity Levy, Ruth Son, I went to most Brady club holidays, Seaford, Bracklesham Bay, Deal etc. My aunt was also very involved with Brady, Anne Silverman, as was my mother Miriam Kaye. My dad Alan was an Air Raid Warden and used to pick my mother up from the club – often encountering Miriam Moses! She often appeared ‘fearsome’, and would tell my dad off for something or other but he got his own back by insisting that she turn the lights out and pull the curtains.
Skeet was where I went many weekends during my teens where I have to say I still remember “the very cold” building! But during the day I played tennis, enjoyed countryside walks and picking blackberries along the way, and evenings playing ping pong and listening to the top hits of the 50s, such as “I’ll be Home” by Pat Boone.
Rita and Michael Yershon are still in charge of Skeet – happily newly refurbished - and on Sunday 23rd May 2010, 2.30-5.30 there is going to be a talk on Jewish Youth Clubs in the East End between 1930-1960. Tickets £7.50.
Then there was the canteen at Brady. I remember the Wagon Wheel biscuit, one penny each. They were huge – today they seem as big as a 50 pence piece (though I’ve been reliably told they are still the same size!) I also helped behind the canteen counter and remember “the buzzzzz”, and members lining up for their cup of tea, with sugar, milk. I stirred their cups of tea before handing over. Very occasionally I helped in the office which is why perhaps I was awarded at the Annual Display a Certificate of Merit for “helpfulness throughout the year” signed by Miriam Moses, Claire Jacobs, Elizabeth Benjamin, dated 26 February 1957.
For me, Brady Club was not only my social upbringing, but my second home. In fact, during 2003/4 I was Seniority Liaison Officer at the Brady Maccabi club in Edgware, happily working for Terry Cutner (her husband John Cutner worked in Hanbury St too).
P.S. Hope this poem I wrote will restore some of those memories.
I Believe that Brady had the best crowd
Even when we'd Yakety Yak we were never that loud
No mobiles, but I still told mum I'll be Home
And Miriam Moses always said Smile and use your comb
Waiting for subs the same Broken Hearted Melody song
You owe a tanner, and, you've been away too long
The Day That The Rains Came down
We'd meet for Skeet outside the Rose & Crown
By Whitechapel tube we'd listen to At the Hop
Wearing fluorescent green or pink socks & top
Remember the hoop we wore under the skirt
Being Sweet Little Sixteen we knew how to flirt
The canteen, the socials, the drama class and gym
This is The Story of My Life I wrote on a whim.