Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Thumbnail sketches – 1950: Hebrew, motzas and ‘Brown Boots’ (2014) by Joy Lennick

Welcome to the  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:

This is the second of the posts from the archives of author and poet Joy Lennick, although certainly not the first post that we have enjoyed here on Smorgasbord from this entertaining writer. Carrying on from Last week Joy and Eric face challenges as does Joy in her jobs!

Thumbnail sketches – 1950: Hebrew, motzas and ‘Brown Boots’ (2014) by Joy Lennick

Banned from my boy-friend’s flat wasn’t good news…So, what happened next? Once I’d recovered from the shock, I mulled things over. Not having committed any crime I was aware of – except for casting covetous eyes on my ‘significant other’ – I tried putting things into perspective. It wasn’t easy, but being young, besotted and optimistic, we continued enjoying each others company, despite overheard whispers like: “It‘s doomed – she’s a shiksa!” and “Mixed marriages never work…” Of course, not everyone thought that way, and a dear lady: Clara Fresco (her son Ruben was Eric’s friend) welcomed us to their fold. ‘Clara’ was a good cook and introduced me to chopped chicken livers, egg and onion, matzo-brown, chicken soup (a must!), salt beef, fishy dishes, plava and apple strudel – Yummy! (Must have a drop of Jewish blood as I love food!)

Meanwhile, there were livings to be earned. In 1949, I ‘pounded the keys’ for ABC (Associated British Cinemas) in Golden Square, London – best friend Sheila Devo worked there and suggested the interview. I became junior secretary to a Mr. Spalding: an attractive, egotistical man at least twice my age. At the grand Christmas ‘Ball’ he danced with me: holding me too close – I held my ground – as, next danced with the new, very shy actor Richard Todd. Imagine! Wow! Heady stuff for a teenager. Back in the office, the next day, my boss manoeuvred me into a broom cupboard and tried to get his hand in my knickers and worse… You, you…cad! I yelled, battling with a mop and bucket to escape from his clutches: crimson, but with my virginity intact. I left in disgust (no law-suits then!) and secured a post as a junior shorthand typist with a well established firm of solicitors Wilde Sapte in the city. I recall it with affection, for Mr Sapte was a dear man.. Vertically challenged, genial, and balding, he had a penchant for sucking an empty pipe. When speaking, he would stand and rock backwards and forwards: stretching on the forward roll to elevate his height. (Shades of newspaper cartoon character Mr. Bristow). His manner was friendly, unlike male secretary, Mr Marvin’s – whom I grew to dislike intensely. Physically, he was small-boned: scrawny-necked as a vulture, fair-haired, with bum-fluff on his chin. When summoned to attend Mr Sapte, he appeared with the speed of a rocket, rubbed his hands in an ingratiating manner like Dickens’ Uriah Heap, and sometimes fell over his own feet in his eagerness to open doors for his boss. I, however, was treated like something on the bottom of his shoe…He was an obnoxious little man; while Miss Pigg (truly) – Mr Sapte’s female secretary – a confirmed Ms – tall, angular and rather unfeminine – was patient and pleasant. I ‘deciphered’ and typed up court notes and Wills – fascinating stuff. However, having grown weary of Mr Marvin’s disdain and attitude, I left to work temporarily for an agency; eventually plumping for a secretarial role for the American Philip Morris cigarette company in Soho. What an eye opener!! At seventeen, I peeped into the dingy window of prostitution. In Soho and down to Piccadilly, they came out of the woodwork! Their mode of dress varied: ‘tarty’ or ‘mock-lady-like elegance.’ Fascinated, I ear-wigged their ‘chat-up’ lines on my way home from work: “’Allo darlin’, fancy a good time!” was popular, or “’Allo ‘andsome, not in a ‘urry are yer?”(The high-class ones were in Mayfair!) Many a bowler-hatted, pin–stripe-suited man, peered furtively around before succumbing to an offer….It was somehow decadent and exciting at the same time. Low-life lessons writ large!

Meanwhile, I had a future mother-in-law to humour?! Not easy…She suggested in a ramblng letter that I was a gold-digger (?!) …and commented that my dear father probably wore ‘brown boots’ (an insult!) His succinct reply had her flummoxed…But then: malleable and idealistic, I started learning Hebrew (parrot fashion) and attending synagogue – and gradually – she thawed.

©Joy Lennick 2014

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current fiction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

A selection of books by Joy Lennick

One of the reviews for My Gentle War

I found this book totally enchanting, not just for the way it was written (which was completely original being unfettered by any rules on writing and therefore delivered with great feeling). It evoked some long lost memories from my childhood, of family forgotten or misplaced by faulty memory. I thought of my grandmother clasping a homemade loaf of bread under her arm, giving it a good buttering, then with a large bread knife, sawing it off and setting a ‘doorstep’ sized slice free for jam or honey to follow. I wasn’t born at the time of the war, which doesn’t spoil any of this account and although I know it from history books and oft heard tales, was not a good time to live through, yet I’m left thinking there was another side to these times, told here with great fondness. Sometimes I think we’ve lost a great deal for all our modern ways. This is a lovely book and worth a read. Pat McDonald British Crime Author.

Read the reviews and buy the books:

And on Amazon US:

Find all the books, read other reviews and follow Joy on Goodreads:

Connect to Joy


My thanks to Joy for permitting me to share more of her wonderful posts from her archives and I hope you will head over to enjoy many more…Thanks Sally.

31 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Thumbnail sketches – 1950: Hebrew, motzas and ‘Brown Boots’ (2014) by Joy Lennick

  1. It is a pleasure to read your memories, Joy. You’ve had quite an interesting life! The name Miss Pigg caught my eye as one of my favorite teachers in high school was Mr. Pigg. Can you imagine going through life with that name? I’m sure nobody teased them.

    I’m looking forward to Sally’s next pick from your writings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nostalgia! Having been brought up in the East End (many decades past), I miss the salt beef bars and Ridley Road Market (which is just as colourful now, but not the same…). Out here in the Fens, Matzos aren’t so easily picked up at the supermarket.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Cathy, Most interesting to read your comments. I love the humour of the East Enders. Not at all surprised I married one…We’ve moved around a lot too! I remember Ridley Road and Pettiicoat Lane’s markets with a smile. Did you ever have a salt beef sandwich opposite The Windmill theatre in London? Yummy. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round UP – | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  5. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round UP – July 29th to August 4th 2019 | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  6. Hi Sally, I didn’t realize you lived in Woodford for a while, and worked for the London Weekly Advertiser…We’d visit Woodford now and then as we had friends living there. Still have…What a small world it is! Hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

I would be delighted to receive your feedback (by commenting, you agree to Wordpress collecting your name, email address and URL) Thanks Sally

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.