I have one or two indelible memories of the early years. At dusk the lamplighter used to come along Park Lane to light up the street gas lamps. He carried a long bamboo pole and on the end of it were two pieces of equipment, namely a hook and a pilot light. I can only guess but I think the pilot light would be a wick in a can.of kerosene. As he reached a lamp post he elevated the pole and using the hook he turned on the gas tap and then moved the lighted wick close to the gas mantle. When the lamp lighter arrived we knew that bed time was near at hand and it would be time for me to go home.
There were times when our little pranks really were a nuisance to people. For example, one little game was to tie with string two adjacent house front doors, tying the string securely round the door knob, ring the two bells or knock on the door knockers and run away to a nearby back alley to look see two householders simultaneously come to answer the front door. We were never caught.
At the corner of Park Lane was a sweet shop owned by a very gentle lady so she was fair game. We almost never had any money to buy sweets from her so the next best thing was to go in like two angels and very politely ask her a very carefully worded question :- e.g. "Do you keep Pontefract cakes"? and if the answer was yes we would say "Why do you keep them, why don't you sell them?" and run out quickly.
I well remember another day out with Roy in the country. All went well and we returned home, him to his house and me to mine. It must have been summer time and a Sunday, and it must have been late say 7.30 or 8 p.m. when I arrived back at 276 tired and hungry to find the front door locked and no-one answering my knocks. I sat on the doorstep for a while trying to think where the family might be, and I thought perhaps they are at a Sunday night concert at the Synagogue Hall, in the Bet Hamidrash next door to the Synagogue in Brentnall Street. Now that was about one mile away and I suddenly felt tired and miserable and hungry and dishevelled but I set off and eventually arrived there, went in the door and up three flights of stone stairs and through the swing door into the hall. Now the entrance door was at the side of the stage and a curtain separated the lobby and the stage entrance from the audience. I hardly had time to say, "are my parents here please" to the stage manager, when she quick witted said just go up there and up I went on to the stage, not knowing what to expect and the curtains opened and the whole community thought it a great joke, this scruffy little Stock just about crying his eyes out and narked that his mother wasn't at home to feed him and they never said they would be out tonight. To tell you the truth, in our family with parents working all hours we all went our own little ways, without telling what we were doing. I think my mother came and gave me a key and I went home and let myself in, helped myself to whatever food there was and went to bed to sleep it all off.
These concerts were of a high standard. The Choir consisted mainly of the Cantor's children, and there were some professionals and some gifted amateurs in the Community. Ferdy. Josephs, who had a trimmings shop in Linthorpe Road and was an active member of Middlesbrough Operatic Society and spoke with an Oxford accent, quite naturally was invariably the MC. His cousin Jack Adler had spent-some-years in a professional repertory .company did some monologues, A funny little man called Ellis Rubens was a bit of a comedian and a natural stagey type and told funny stories.
Now there were a pair of robust women who lived in Southfield Road and kept a theatrical boarding house and had I believe, trod the boards themselves in their earlier days. Their names escape but one performance of one of them will be with me all my life. She was quite an outstanding figure, large bust and a stage “presence”. I can see her now, striding back and forth along the front of the stage singing 'I cover the waterfront, in search of my love…” I am sure she sang other songs also but that one remains with me. Now it was and still is a good "torch" song. but, and I only thought about it in later years, the only waterfront in Middlesbrough was the River Tees in the Docks in the industrial heartland of the town and the only women who covered the waterfront in those days and for generations after were the prostitutes. I am sure that no-one else ever thought of the song in that way, but who knows?
Although my sister Blanche was developing into a first class pianist, I cannot remember her ever performing in the Community Hall concerts. However, there was an excellent classical pianist, Sidney Lazarus, a Pharmaceutical Chemist, and for years he was a leading light in the Teesside Musical Society. There was also another pianist to accompany some of the vocals but I cannot remember his name. In Kensington Road lived the famous comedian, Dave Morris, who was often on the radio. This was long before the era of television. His sister Beattie Morris was I am told a beautiful girl and a professional stage dancer. Many years later, Middlesbrough Jewish Community had a Cantor from Romania or Hungary called Wulwick and he gave public concerts on occasions in the Opera House on Linthorpe Road.