Jake and Mary Jacobs celebrated 70 years of married bliss last year, but this pair has surmounted all challenges to attain such a marriage milestone.
When Mary, a white woman, met Jake, a black man, it was 1940s Britain, and despite living in a metropolis, Jake was one of very few black males.
Mary might have easily walked away, but she had fallen in love and would do anything to be with her love, even if her father told her to.
“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.'”
Jacobs, Jake and MaryApril 1948Posted on Monday, September 30, 2019 by The Homemade Home
When Jake moved over from Trinidad during the war, the couple met at the same technical institution where Mary was taking typing and shorthand classes and he was training with the Air Force.
Mary, who lived in Lancashire at the time, and Jake struck up a conversation, and he impressed Mary with his Shakespeare expertise.
He and his companion took Mary and her friend out for a picnic, and they were noticed by a lady riding by who was surprised to find two English girls conversing with black males, so she reported Mary to her father. Her father was stunned and forbade Mary from ever seeing him again.
When Jake returned to Trinidad, they wrote to each other, and he moved to the United Kingdom a few years later to find better-paying employment.
What was it like to be in a mixed race relationship in the 1940s and 50s? We meet Jake and Mary Jacobs who got married in 1948 pic.twitter.com/E56ZP6QLbs— BBC Radio 2 (@BBCRadio2) October 13, 2016
Jake proposed to Mary when she was 19 years old; she agreed, but when she told her family, they kicked her out.
“I only had one small suitcase with me when I left.” In 1948, no relatives attended our registrar office wedding.”
While her father was ‘horrified’ that she was considering marrying a black guy, Mary didn’t understand the rest of society felt the same way.
“The first years of our marriage were hell in Birmingham — I cried every day and barely ate.” Nobody spoke to us, we couldn’t find a place to live since no one would rent to a black man, and we didn’t have any money.”
People would point at them as they walked down the street together, Mary told the Daily Mail.
Mary became pregnant, and the couple relished the prospect of becoming parents, but at 8 months, she gave birth to a stillborn child.
“It wasn’t related to the stress I was under but it broke my heart, and we never had any more children,” she went on to say.
With Mary working as a teacher and advancing to assistant principal of a British school and Jake finding a position with the Post Office, their circumstances did improve. They established new acquaintances, but Mary stated that she felt compelled to inform people that her husband was black before introducing them to him.
“My father died when I was 30 and although we were reconciled by then, he never did approve of Jake,” she went on to say.
Mary, 84, and Jake, 89, reside in Solihull, just south of Birmingham, and just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
Jake says he has no regrets, but that today’s young black kids have no concept what it was like for him in 1940s Britain.
“Every day, I am subjected to abuse.”Every day after I landed in the United Kingdom, I was treated to abuse. over a bus once, a guy wiped his hands over my neck and remarked, “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.”
Despite the difficulties, discrimination, and abuse, the pair is still deeply in love and has no regrets about marrying, having enjoyed almost 70 years of marital happiness.
Their love for each other has truly conquered all; they are a wonderful inspiration, and I wish them many more years of happiness.