We had a great community lunch with Neighbours in Poplar today at St Matthias. Sister Christine and I took a few minutes to discuss and reminisce the life of the recently departed Henry Abrahams who passed away during the Christmas break.
Henry's story is as follows and narrated by himself two years ago when he was in good health. He was born 3rd March 1911, one of 6 brothers and sisters. They had three rooms.
Their gas cooker was in the landing and they used the same bath water every Saturday night, in the kitchen, one after the other. That's how it was if you were poor and the loo was out in the back yard.
Sometimes his dad used to get work and his Mum used to roll cigarettes, by the hundreds for very little money. The family was Jewish and observed the Sabbath weekly.
Henry could remember his childhood playing games safely out in the street. He went to school until he was 14 when he left for an apprenticeship as a Lithographic artist. Henry used to wheel sheets of brass from Clerkenwell to Kingsland Road in a wheel barrow. He received the grand total of one shilling for this and worked a 55 hour week for 7 shillings and 6 pence. He married Bessie on Christmas Day 1935. Sadly they had no children, one of his regrets in life.
He was called up along with all his friends when war was declared, but when the authorities realised his skill in engraving he was sent to the munitions factory where each piece had to be stamped. At night Henry served as a firefighter.
Bessie died some years ago leaving him with nieces and nephews and Johnny, his brother in law.
In the course of the Christmas season, thanks to funders, donors and kind people, Neighbours in Poplar were able to provide:
6 Parties for Over 50s –
Final one January 3rd
45 Parcels of Groceries to
30 Groceries to Families in
28 Toys to Families in Need
70 Turkeys to Families in
- 391 Meals cooked and delivered – December 25th/26th/January 1st