East Ender Henry Abraham marks 102nd birthday on chicken soup
PUBLISHED: 20:50 11 March 2013 | UPDATED: 20:50 11 March 2013
Henry Abraham has just turned 102 and keeps going on chicken soup he makes himself and sometimes popping out for pie'n'mash.
He didn’t even retire from his job as a skilled print engraver until he was 82—and still takes the bus to do his weekly shopping down Whitechapel, heaving groceries back to his house off the Roman Road in London’s East End.
“I am trying to keep my independence,” he insists. “I clean the house and cook—mostly chicken soup, three or four dinners at a time and put them in the freezer for the week. The shopping is a bit heavy, but I manage.”
He pops every week on the bus to a pensioners’ club at St Mathias community centre run by Neighbours in Poplar, who threw a 102nd birthday bash for him.
“I take life day by day,” the philosophical centenarian tells you. “I’ve lost some control of my legs due to wear and tear over the years, but I still get around on the bus and like to be independent.
“I realise as I get older that I’m wearing out more.”
Yet his recollections are as sharp as anyone half his age. Henry was in a wartime reserved occupation as a security engraver, yet volunteered for dangerous fire-watch duty at night on City rooftops during the height of the Blitz.
But his best memory is the day he wed his teenage sweetheart Elizabeth at Stepney’s East London Central Synagogue in Rectory Square in 1935. They were married 65 years. She died 12 years ago aged 87.
His family of nephews and nieces took him to a Turkish restaurant in Mare Street to celebrate—but he wasn’t impressed.
“It was a bit greasy,” he confided. “I’d sooner have my pie’n’mash.”