Love? Ac­tu­ally, they’ve been mar­ried 80 years

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY MICHAEL FREED­LAND

WHEN HE­LEN and Mau­rice Kaye mar­ried at the old Bor­ough Sy­n­a­gogue in south Lon­don, Bri­tain was in the grip of the De­pres­sion, Ed­ward Prince of Wales was be­gin­ning his dal­liance with Wal­lis Simp­son and Oswald Mosley was fill­ing are­nas with sup­port­ers of his Bri­tish Union of Fas­cists.

Eighty years on, their chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren gath­ered at the cou­ple’s Bournemouth home to cel­e­brate a re­mark­able mar­i­tal mile­stone.

Talk to the Kayes and you would be for­given for think­ing that they are very much younger. They dart around their liv­ing room al­though Mrs Kaye, 101, re­luc­tantly uses a walker. Her hus­band, 102, com­plains about no longer be­ing al­lowed to drive his beloved Mercedes, at the in­sis­tence of their two sur­viv­ing chil­dren.

Those join­ing the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions in­cluded mem­bers of the lo­cal Chabad shul, in which Mr Kaye has been a prime mover. Barely a Shab­bat goes by with­out him dav­en­ing there and par­tak­ing of the lav­ish kid­dush.

The Kayes have led a rea­son­ably pros­per­ous life, at one time having five ladieswear shops in the Bournemouth area. But there has been tragedy, too. Two chil­dren died, one, An­thony, a boy of four, who suf­fered a mis­di­ag­nosed burst ap­pendix.

“They said he had measles. I was so bro­ken­hearted, I tried to com­mit sui­cide,” Mr Kaye re­called. A daugh­ter, Les­ley, died in her 30s in 1991 of an in­op­er­a­ble brain tu­mour.

Pho­tos of the two hang in the hall­way of their flat.

When they met, Mau­rice Kaye was a trav­el­ling sales­man for his fa­ther’s women’s cloth­ing busi­ness and 17-yearold He­len was serv­ing be­hind the counter at her mother’s shop. “We could ac­tu­ally be cel­e­brat­ing our 84th an­niver­sary now,” she said. “But I had an older sis­ter and my mother wouldn’t let me be the first to marry.

“What I liked about him was that he had a car,” she re­called.

“Yes,” said Mr Kaye. “A red Mor­ris Ox­ford. I had just bought it. I was sat be­hind the wheel, told by the sales­man how to move the gear stick and blow the horn and in five min­utes I was driv­ing it away. No test. Didn’t have them in those days. I’ve never taken a test in my life.”

He vol­un­teered for the Army — “I wanted to show that Jews needed to

‘What I liked about him was that he had a car’

do their bit” — be­com­ing a phys­i­cal train­ing in­struc­tor, which might partly ex­plain his longevity. He didn’t stay in the post for long. He got into a fight with a sol­dier who made an an­ti­semitic re­mark, prac­ti­cally blind­ing him.

He also took part in the anti-Mosley Bat­tle of Ca­ble Street.

“Peo­ple said I looked like Mosley,” he said. “I had a lit­tle mous­tache and even wore a black shirt with a rolled col­lar. But just be­cause I liked it.”

The luck­i­est thing that hap­pened to him dur­ing his Army ser­vice was when the Luft­waffe bombed their south Lon­don house. He was sent home on com­pas­sion­ate leave at the time of D-Day. He missed be­ing shipped to Nor­mandy as part of a unit that was to­tally wiped out.

They moved to B o u r n e mouth, which they both love, and where Mr Kaye built up his em­pire.

“I was the tough­est busi­ness­man,” he said. They also loved trav­el­ling, and

‘It would be nice to be young but I don’t want to go back in time’

par­tic­u­larly cruises, un­til a cou­ple of years back. But those days are over. “Oh, I couldn’t fly any more,” Mrs Kaye con­fided. “And the air­ports are ter­ri­ble.”

“I don’t see the prob­lem,” her hus­band coun­tered. “They give us wheel­chairs, we are taken to the planes and are quite com­fort­able when we get on them.”

What years they have to look back on. “It would be nice to be young but I don’t want to go back in time,” Mrs Kaye said.

Long-term re­la­tion­ship: Mau­rice and He­len Kaye are cel­e­brat­ing a rare wed­ding an­niver­sary

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