“Rye’s Own” sadly reports the death of one of our oldest subscribers.
Eileen was born at Camberwell on 28th October, 1916. This was at the height of the First World war It was a sweet tooth that led to a sweetheart when Eileen and a friend were in a shop; they both thought that the toffee apples on display looked delicious, but were far too expensive. Ron Alstin overheard them and offered to buy one for Eileen, which was how they met.
They married when Eileen was just nineteen and settled in Peckham after their honeymoon in Hastings. During the war, Ron worked out of Woolwich Arsenal and Eileen worked at Kennedy’s sausage factory. Ron’s health suffered because of the London smog, so they decided to move out of London, once the war was over. Ron got a job in Rye and they initially lived in the flat above the shop where he worked, before moving to Camber.
The Alstins had two children, Bob while they were in Rye and three years later David, after they moved to Udimore. Eileen worked behind the counter at the post office stores, and also did paper and other deliveries. In the early 1960s Ron bought an old ambulance, which they converted into a mobile cafe. They parked it at the sea wall in Camber and their first customer became a lifelong friend, David, best known as “Luggy”. For a while, Eileen also worked at the Quay Bar in Rye, when the boys were at Secondary School. She enjoyed being there and got on well with her colleagues. The kiosk was built on a plinth to avoid flooding when the tide came in. David and Bob would go there in their lunch breaks from school and on one occasion a high tide stranded them there, which meant they were unable to get back to school; a source of great disappointment for them!
Eileen took over the cafe at Cripps Corner on 23 September, 1967. Unfortunately, Ron was unwell and less than two years later, in February 1969, he died. When he knew that he was ill, Ron asked Luggy to take care of Eileen and the boys, and that’s something Ron’s friend has tried to do ever since.
After Ron’s death, Eileen moved into Salisbury Cottage to be closer to work and at this point, Luggy became the lodger. The cafe went from strength to strength. Although it was, officially, the Cripps Corner Cafe, it became universally known as “Eileen’s” and was a regular stopping point for drivers from Jempsons, Hastings Police and Thomas Transport among many firms, as well as being very popular with cyclists, especially those from the Eastbourne Rovers club.
All good things come to an end and in 1984 Eileen retired. This was a huge event, or rather, a series of events, as there were parties and presentations organised by Jempsons and Hastings Police. Luggy has been a part of the family for a long time. He and Eileen meant the world to each other; He helped to look after the home and cafe and, in the most recent times, it’s thanks to him that Eileen was able to stay at home, something for which her family will always be grateful. Eileen had a big heart and a big personality. She will be much missed and fondly remembered by all who knew her.
“Rye’s Own” April 2012
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