As long as Opa was alive Oma made some effort to take care of her health. After Opa's death, she ceased to take any account of her diabetic condition. In the autumn of 1946, Oma's condiotion became critical. She had no will to live. She died on November 17, 1946; she was 58. Her death had one unexpected consequence. A letter from a firm of solicitors said she had made a will and that to give effect to the terms of the will, it meant selling the Grey House.
The family was stunned. The Grey House had been such an integral part of our life. It proved a blessing in disguise. My parents soon found another house, Brierfield, in Harrow Road. Brierfield was grander, with glorious grounds. [Ed note: see Photo Gallery Page 35 for picture].
At about this time, ten years almost to the day after arriving in England, we finally acquired a nationality. In the formal words of the Home Office, "a certificate of naturalisation…was granted on January 28 1947 to one Jakob Fischbein of 79 Cambridge Road Middlesbrough…"The certificate also extended to include his minor son, Joachim Fred.
We had official recognition at last. My father had waited over 40 years for a nationality.
Not long after our move, television came to the area in 1948. Dad's great moment came when racing began to be televised. Typically, we had one of the first sets in Middlesbrough. He would settle down on a Saturday afternoon, papers on his knee and telephone at his side, with an open line to his bookie.
By now, mother had engaged a housekeeper, Tessie Hudson, whose sisters Winnie and Joan Cunningham, often came to help out. The Hudson and Cunningham families lived in Redcar Road in South Bank. I loved and admired them all.
Tessie's father Tom Hudson was a widower and ardent Boro supporter. He introduced me to Wilf Mannion. I met other members of the team through a publicity exercise to promote the Factory's shirts and the brand name Priory. Among the team was George Hardwick and I also became friendly with Johnny Spuhler, the right winger who provided the cross for the goal disallowed against Burnley because he was allegedly offside. He never was and that goal would have put Boro into their first FA Cup semi-final.
After Oma's death, the differences simmering since Opa's death between Max and the rest of the family surfaced. Max thought it his right as eldest son to be chairman and managing director. The rest of the family demurred but Max eventually became MD.
The business had prospered during the war despite the fire, though Government contracts were soon to end. They were replaced by others equally as good from Marks & Spencer. To be an M & S supplier was a big feather in one's commercial cap.
Max was a man with a cause; he had a vision to become the biggest shirt manufacturer in the country. He was a salesman, but not a disciplined financier. Time and motion experts were called in, conveyor belts were replaced by benches. New methods were experimented without proper foundations being laid or training given. Not surprisingly, this caused total confusion. The workers objected, they were losing money.
Joe, Dora's husband who had joined the business when they married in 1942, could no longer stand the constant disputes and what he regarded as commercial folly. He decided to get out as he foresaw disaster, unless there was a radical change. Early in 1948 they moved to Jersey.
Mother's health also gave way under the strain. Her condition, hypertension, now began to give rise to serious concern. No successful treatment for high blood pressure had yet been developed. Mother was advised an experimental form of surgery was her only hope. She had the operation in 1948 at Guy's in London. She need a long recuperation and without her and Dora things stated to go wrong. M & S began to complain about quality.
My pals, more than ever with girls on their mind, has started going to Saltburn Spa. I started going too with my friend Peter Radford. Soon he suggested I stay at his home overnight. I was glad to do so instead of making a long and inebriated way home.
I was often invited to spend Christmases and New Years too. Those were happy times. The whole atmosphere was immensely pleasurable. For my part I was pleased to reciprocate and have my friends over to Brierfild but I was not able to provide them with the same warmth. My parents did their best but could not relate to them. My parents had no friends who were not Jewish.
As soon as I was 17 I rushed to the Town Hall to apply for my driving licence. Bob Hodgkinson, our wartime taxi diver, had promised to teach me to drive. Once I learned to drive, mother decided she should too. She passed first time.
Through my new mobility the Spa, and the area east of Guisborough where my friends lived, became much more accessible. My popularity seemed to increase.
I decided I wanted to go to Oxford University. I sat the entrance exam to Exeter College and failed. I was devastated. Application was immediately made to enter me for the Balliol scholarship. I got in this time and ran all the way to dad's office with the news. Dad wasn't an emotional man but the look on his face said it all. Work stopped in the office as everyone congratulated me.
I had received my calling up papers when I reached 18 in June 1949. Now that I had my university place I was anxious to get into the army and out again. After some training there was a chance to volunteer for Army Recruiting work. I volunteered for Middlesbrough, to help out. The Major showed an effusion of gratitude, Six months after leaving home for good I was back with the rank of Sergeant, fully paid.