Love truly conquers all.
It sounds c the stuff of romance novels or cheesy movies, but the reality is, if you have love, you can overcome so much.
It’s a story that has seen a great passage of time in a changing world and that remains relevant to this day. Mary was born in Britain and Jake was born in Trinidad. When they fell in love in 1940s’ England, back when being an interracial couple was far less socially accepted than it is today.
They were ostracized socially, and even by their family, but they stayed together – they were fighting a war, of life and love but also an actual war. Jake was serving in the UK during World War II. This is how their love conquered all.
A fateful first meeting
Mary told the Daily Mail that she met Jake when he came over during the war from Trinidad, as part of the American forces stationed at the Burtonwood base near her home in Lancashire.
“We were at the same technical college. I was having typing and shorthand lessons and he’d been sent there for training by the Air Force. He was with a group of black friends and they called my friend and me over to talk.”
We didn’t even know they spoke English, but Jake and I got chatting. He quoted Shakespeare to me, which I loved.Mary
A few weeks later, the couple went for a picnic with friends, but were spotted by a lady cycling past. “Two English girls with a group of black men was very shocking — and she reported me to my father, who banned me from seeing him again,” she continued.
But as fate would have it, they met again
So that was that for the time. Once the war was over, Jake had to leave Mary behind and return to Trinidad. But the two sent each other love letters during their time apart and ultimately Jake realized he needed to be with Mary. He returned to the UK a few years later and asked her to be his wife.
“He asked me to marry him, quite out of the blue, when I was only 19,” Mary recalled. “When I told my father I was going to marry Jake he said, ‘If you marry that man you will never set foot in this house again.’ He was horrified that I could contemplate marrying a black man,” she revealed.
My father threw me out, and I left with only one small suitcase to my name. No family came to our register office wedding in 1948.
“The first years of our marriage living in Birmingham were hell—I cried every day, and barely ate,” she continued. “No one would speak to us, we couldn’t find anywhere to live because no one would rent to a black man, and we had no money.”
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They were ostracized by British society
Even though they loved each other, marriage was not an easy thing for the Jacobs, not when society was nowhere near ready to accept an interracial couple. Mary recalls the difficult memories of their first years.
“People would point at us in the street. Then I gave birth to a stillborn son at eight months. It wasn’t related to the stress I was under but it broke my heart, and we never had any more children,” she revealed.
“But gradually life became easier. I got teaching jobs, ending up as a deputy headteacher. First Jake worked in a factory, then for the Post Office,” she said.
With no family to fall back on, the couple slowly began making friends. However, it wasn’t always easy as they faced a lot of discrimination and prejudice from those who couldn’t accept a white woman and a black man being together.
I used to say to new friends: ‘Look, I have to tell you this before I invite you to my home—my husband is black.
The most painful thing of all, is never having had her father’s approval even after so many years.
“My father died when I was 30 and although we were reconciled by then, he never did approve of Jake,” she revealed.
They celebrated 70 years of marriage
A few years ago, Mary and Jake celebrated their 70th anniversary. “I feel so fortunate to have met and married Mary, but it saddens me that we could not be accepted by society.
Nowadays I say to young black people: “You have no idea what it used to be like.” When I arrived in the UK I was subjected to abuse every day.
Once I was on a bus and a man rubbed his hands on my neck and said: “I wanted to see if the dirt would come off.And back then you couldn’t work in an office — because a black man in an office with all the white girls wasn’t thought to be safe,” said Jake.
Jake and Mary are now entering into 71 years of marriage and they are still very much in love. Unfortunately, Mary has a slight form of Alzheimer’s coming on, so they are making the most of the time they have while they have it. But they’ve had an amazing life together – and they made it happy, despite all the barriers that stood in their past.
More inspiring romances:
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