Thoughts from a 100 year old on his 100th birthday

18 Feb 2015

The Jewish News has launched a new monthly interview with a 100+ year old living in the London Jewish community. The interview aims to celebrate the lives of older people and provide readers with a snapshot into an individual’s life. The first interview is Lady Sarah Cohen House resident, Maurice Gordon...

Name:  Maurice and Muriel Gordon
Maurice Gordon

Date of birth:
27 Jan 1915

Place of birth:
I was born at home on Jubilee Street, Stepney in the East End, youngest of four siblings. We had a tough upbringing, an outdoor cold tap and went to the public bathhouse once a week.

Where do you live? How long have you lived there? Where did you live before?
I grew up in Jubilee Street then moved to Stoke Newington when I married, we used to go dancing at The Royal on Tottenham Court Road. In 1962 moved to Muswell Hill and then my wife, Muriel, moved to Jewish Care’s Lady Sarah Cohen House in Friern Barnet in 2007 and I joined her in the next room 5 years later.

Were you married and if so for how long? To whom?
I met Muriel through family friends and we married on 5th September 1954 in Shackwell Lane Synagogue. We have two daughters, Helen and Anne, and both live in North London. I love visits from my family and friends and especially Sarah my granddaughter, who is a fantastic young photographer.

Occupation before retirement
I was a Pattern Grader in a factory for a ladies clothing company, cutting the patterns to size.
During the 1930’s there were fights in the streets of the East End which the fascists started when they attacked Jewish boys in the street. I became an activist, going on Labour Party and anti-fascist marches in London in those times.

I served in the 2nd Battalion, Hertfordshire regiment in WWII, and on D-Day, 6th June 1944 I landed on Gold Beach, Normandy. I was in a beach protection group and we helped to capture the beach, clear land mines and then move supplies off the beach. In August 1944, I was badly wounded in a mortar attack during the battle of Falaise, and spent 10 months in hospital. I still carry multiple shrapnel pieces today.
I continued in the rag trade, retired at 70 and helped Muriel with a small antiques shop selling glass and art deco china, travelling to fairs. I played bridge up until a few years ago.

Maurice Gordon profile shot. Photo credit: Sarah KatzIf you could live your life again would you do anything differently?

Do today’s young people have it easy compared to when you were growing up?
No, I don’t think so, things are very different now.

What national or international news story has had the greatest impact on you over the years?
I don’t know but I have read the papers everyday all my life. When I was 94 at The Whittington Hospital, the nurses said I was the oldest FT reader they’d ever seen.

The secret for a long life is…
Well, I still read the newspaper daily and up until a few years ago I took a walk every day and have always eaten a very healthy diet.