Mary and Jake’s love tale 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 honored. Unfortunately, they both died, with Mary joining Jake in the afterlife in July 2020.
Love Is Forbidden
Jake was stationed in the United Kingdom during WWII, and the pair met there. He was from Trinidad, while Mary was from the United Kingdom. Mary explained in a 2016 interview:
“I first encountered Jake when he came over from Trinidad as part of the American soldiers 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 classes. 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 recited 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 often, 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 informed 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 kicked me out, and I just had a little bag to my name when I went.” “In 1948, no one from our family came to our registration 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 connected 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 grew easier with 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 establish some pals. “Look, I have to tell you something before I welcome you to my home—my spouse 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 clue how things used to be.”
“I consider myself really lucky to have met and married Mary,” Jake stated, “but it saddens me that we were not recognized by society.” ‘You have no clue what it used to be like,’ I tell young Black people nowadays. Every day when I first came in the UK, I was treated to abuse. ‘I wanted to check whether the dirt would come off,’ a guy stated as he put his hands over 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 females wouldn’t be safe.”
In an interview with The Cut in 2019, he detailed 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.