The Black Middens

A story of love and struggle to bring up three children during the war years.
Joe Donnelly, a coble fisherman from cullercoats meets the girl of his dreams when Emily Rose Higgins crashes into him on her bicycle whilst out with her sister Mary Jane. Joe and his brother George, a captain in the British Army ask the two girls out to a dance at the plaza in Tynemouth and they both fall in love. Alan Donnelly the youngest of the brothers is in the Northumberland Fusiliers. it is not long before they all get married. Emily Rose has two children but there are complications during the birth of her third child and she dies leaving Joe to bring up Marina, George, and Helen the newborn child.
After some attempts to try and hire a nanny come house keeper Joe hires a dutch girl called Alina Classen whose parents were both killed by the Germans in the first world war.
Not speaking much English Alina works very hard and teaches the children to speak Dutch and they in turn teach her English. What dev


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The next day both George and Joe spruced themselves up; Alan their other brother Joked on at them both.

“You take longer than a woman to get ready both of you.

Alan was also in the army he was a sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Alan was already walking out with a girl called Catherine McMullen and he planned to marry her in the summer.

He had asked his oldest brother George to be his best man and he had accepted.

The two men came out and got into the car with clean collars and ties they both wore waist coats and jackets. Their oxford shoes were gleaming after spending over an hour bulling them up. George had shown him how the army shined their boots and shoes.

They reached the park and parked outside. It was nice and sunny and the park was busy with many couples and families either sitting having picnics or feeding the ducks in the pond. The park was well kept by the Gardner’s who cut the grass, tended the flower beds, and shrubs. Joe and George walked down the stairway onto the grass lawn then walked towards the pond.

Joe spotted Emily and waved; she shyly waved back. Mary Jane was with her as the walked down to meet them. Emily was wearing a navy blue dress with a white collar some cultured pearls around her neck and blue coloured earrings and black three inch heeled pointed toe shoes. She carried a blue small umbrella and a black clutch bag.

Mary Jane was dressed in white with little pink butterflies on the dress, white heels and she carried a white bag and umbrella.

“My you ladies look beautiful said George as Mary Jane and Emily Rose came up to them.

“You are early said Emily.”

“Well after last night I thought I better make an effort.” You look beautiful by the way.”

“Thank you and you look very smart too.”

“Just something I threw on he lied; the truth was he had tried every suit on in his wardrobe and waist coat until he settled on the one he was wearing.

They all walked along the park until Joe suggested that they go for a cup of tea.

“Is there anywhere open on a Sunday Joe asked his brother?

“Yes the Seaman’s Mission will be open we can get cup of tea there.”

They all walked up the stairs to the car then George drove them down the bank at speed and the girls held on for dear life until George reached the bottom then he turned right.

How far is this place Joe asked George? “

“Not far now said Joe. “ Look there it is on the right pull in over there next to the quayside.”

Joe jumped down then opened the doors to help the girls out then they went into the café.


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