Mary and Jake’s love story is a far cry from Romeo and Juliet’s. They met and fell in love in the 1940s. Mixed-race couples, on the other hand, were not accepted at the time. Their love was pitted against the world. They never gave up, though. They married and lived to experience a time in their lives when their romance was celebrated. Unfortunately, they both died, with Mary joining Jake in the afterlife in July 2020.
“I first encountered Jake when he came over from Trinidad as part of the American forces stationed at Burtonwood, near my home in Lancashire, during the war.” We were both attending the same technical school. He’d been deployed there by the Air Force for training when I was taking typing and shorthand lessons. He was with a bunch of Black buddies who summoned my friend and me for a conversation. We had no idea they knew English, but Jake and I struck up a conversation. I adored it when he quoted Shakespeare to me.”
A few weeks later, Mary and a companion went on a picnic with Jake and his friends.
However, a woman riding her bike passed them and was taken aback when she saw the mixed-race bunch. Mary’s father was informed, and he forbade her from meeting Jake.
Jake had to return to Trinidad after the war finished in 1945. They exchanged letters frequently, but it didn’t take long for Jake to realize he couldn’t live without her. He was back in Britain in a few years, down on one knee, asking Mary to marry him. “When I was 19, he asked me to marry him out of the blue,” Mary recounted. “When I told my father I was intending to marry Jake, he replied, ‘You will never set foot in this house again if you marry that man.’ He was appalled that I was considering marrying a Black man.”
Her Family Rejected Her
“My father threw me out, and I just had a small suitcase to my name when I went.” “In 1948, no one from our family came to our register office wedding,” Mary added. “The first few years of our marriage in Birmingham were hell—I sobbed every day and didn’t eat much.” We couldn’t find a place to live since no one would rent to a Black man, and we didn’t have any money.”
Strangers would stare at them as they walked down the street. The tension was unbearable, and Mary’s pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at eight months. “It wasn’t related to the stress I was experiencing,” she explained, “but it devastated my heart, and we never had any more children.” Raymond, Cindy, and Patty were their three children at the time. “However, living became easier over time. I went on to work as a teacher and eventually became a deputy headteacher. Jake’s first job was at a factory, and then he went to work for the Post Office.”
It wasn’t simple for the pair to make some pals. “Look, I have to tell you this before I invite you to my home—my husband is Black,” Mary explained.
Mary was 30 years old when her father died. They were reunited, although he never approved of her marriage to Jake. However, this did not deter them.
“You have no idea how things used to be.”
“I consider myself really fortunate to have met and married Mary,” Jake stated, “but it saddens me that we were not recognized by society.” ‘You have no idea what it used to be like,’ I tell young Black people nowadays. Every day when I first arrived in the UK, I was treated to abuse. ‘I wanted to check whether the dirt would come off,’ a man stated as he rubbed his hands on my neck on a bus. And you couldn’t work in an office back then because it was assumed that a Black man in an office with all the white girls wouldn’t be safe.”
In an interview with The Cut in 2019, he explained their current lives. “I’m in charge of day-to-day cooking; I’ve always done it, except when we have kosher visitors.” Then my wife takes care of it. We males want to assume we’re always correct, but we’re not. My wife and I have been married for 71 years and are still working on it. Unfortunately, Mary is developing a mild type of Alzheimer’s. The physicians are doing their best, but no remedy has yet been discovered. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed. This year, she will be 89 years old, and I will be 93.”
In April of this year, the couple celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. Sadly, Jake died soon after, and Mary died in July of 2020. Their love story, on the other hand, continues to inspire. It’s wonderful that the pair was able to overcome the odds stacked against them after all of their adversity.