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Ivor and Lila

My visual memories

A photo of Ivor and LilaA photo of Lila

Ivor and Lila lived in South Shields before moving to Sunderland. Ivor's parents came from Lithuania in the 1900s. Lila moved from Belfast to South Shields when she was 17 years old. Ivor and Lila owned a music shop on King Street in South Shields.

Ivor and Lila were interviewed by Victoria Rogers on the 9th May 2006, the interview took place in South Shields Museum and lasted for 2 hours fifteen minutes.

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America via Hartlepool

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The strange thing is that although my father was born in Lithuania, he liked to call it Russia because that's what it was. The point is that my father was Jewish in a little village in the country which was primarily Jewish. I mean when we are talking about a village we are talking about maybe 50 people and because of the restrictions on study imposed by the Tsar at the time, Jewish children were not allowed to go to school, not Russian school. What sort of date would this have been? My father came here in 1898. I am not sure if it was 1898 or 1890. It was the back end of the 1800s and he came here, you see he wouldn't talk much about it. I think he was somewhere between eighteen and twenty years old. Although his youngest brother, who is now dead as well, he said they were both, he and my youngest uncle came over together, they escaped. Don't ask me how they did it. At their age I would have been sitting there just like, but they smuggled themselves across the Polish border, through Poland across the German Polish border to Hamburg, where they found their way to the docks. Language wasn't that difficult for them at that point because although they didn't speak very much Russian they spoke a strange language called Yiddish which is not Hebrew. Yiddish is a bastard language. It's made up of many languages, much of which is German so when they got to Germany, they could easily make them selves understood. They got to a ship in Hamburg according to my uncle, because dad just wouldn't talk. Do you know why he wouldn't talk? Even though he was a naturalised Englishman long before I was born, he still had that sneaking worry that the Russians would come after him and get him. Remind me to tell you why he escaped. But let me just tell you what t happened in Hamburg. They saw a ship; they went up to a bloke who turned out to be a mate. He took them up to the captain, they said that they wanted to go to America, so he took all their money off them and let them off at Hartlepool. Now that's not uncommon, it is so common that it's a joke but that's what happened. They thought they were going to America. As luck would have it they were wandering around the streets of Hartlepool apparently quite late at night and a friendly policeman who turned out to be a friendly policeman, asked them where they were going. They weren't dressed like English lads. They were dressed like Russian lads. I don't know how they communicated, possibly the policeman could speak a bit of German. It wasn't uncommon in those days. My father had a piece of paper on which the name, was it ...Pearlman was written and this guy recognised the name because there was a Jewish man in Hartlepool, which wasn't that big, called Pearlman. So apparently in the middle of the night, there was no question of telephones, he knocked on the door and this guy came down and the fellow explained what it was all about, and this guy Pearlman whose name I can't remember explained to the boys that they had an uncle living in South Shields, and from somewhere they got the money to get the train to South Shields.

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