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


18. 18

Jane tells me that you are a fisherman is this true?

“Yes; I brought you some cod fillet and a lobster.

“Thank you very much; I’m sure I will enjoy the fish for my tea.

“Are you able to work all the year round as a fisherman?

 No Sir we usually put the boat in the shed over the winter.”

“How would you live?

“I can do anything from building work to working in the ship yard.

“Well I can help you there because we can use big fellows like you down there.

“It would only be until the spring tides and then I can get out again in my boat.”

“That’s fine Joe.”

“Look son, I have no objections to you marrying my daughter as long as you take good care of her.”

“Joe stood up and nearly shook Tom’s hand off.”

“How did you get so big?

“I don’t know sir; my two brothers are smaller than me. I guess I kept on growing.

“Let’s hope that you don’t grow any more.”

“Emily Rose shouted her father you can come down now.”

Jane, Emily Rose, and Mary Jane came down stairs and into the living room.

“Well Emily it looks like you are soon to be wed.”

“Oh thank you daddy said Emily as she kissed her father then Joe who picked her up as if she were a little doll; then placed her gently down again. Jane was next and then Mary Jane.

Joe opened a box and placed a ring on Emily’s finger;” now it’s official; he laughed.

“Oh Joe it is lovely; she showed her mother and her sister.

“My little sister is getting married before me.”

Will you be my maid of honour Mary Jane?

“Yes of course as long as you will be mine.”

“Has George asked you to marry him?

“Yes; he wrote me only last week to ask me.”

“Wow! Said Joe; I never thought I would see it.”

“That will be three weddings as my Brother Alan is getting wed as well.”

“Would you like a beer to celebrate Joe?

“Yes sir.”

“You can call me dad once you’re married.”

Jane bring us a couple of bottles in will you and open that bottle of sherry from your sister Margaret as well.

Joe spent the rest of the evening at Emily’s house.

He left at eleven thirty and told Emily that he would pick her and her sister from work tomorrow.

Emily kissed him at the door then waited until he had driven off.

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