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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On Saturday Joe saw his friend Peter and gave him the news. Peter told him that he would attend the funeral with his wife and would help him any way he could.

He drove the children to his in laws house where they were staying over the weekend then came home Joyce had offered to look after Helen for him until he returned.

Joe explained about the women who had been sent by the employment agency.

They had a laugh over Miss Jacobs especially.

“What am I to do Joyce I have to get out to work next week? “ I cannot keep digging into my savings or there will be nothing left.”

Joyce told him that she would ask around for him. There are many foreign families I know with daughters who are looking for work.”

“These are hard working girls willing to work long hours. Would you like me to ask for you?

“Yes, if you would.

“I will ask if they can start as soon as possible and I will explain about your wife and children if that’s alright Joe.

“That would be fine; thank you.”

“Okay then Joe I will be back in one hour.”

Joyce left and Joe knew that Joyce would bring back someone who was reliable.

Joe tidied the place up; he went into his mother’s room and checked it over then the children’s room.

Marina had made the beds.

There was a knock on the door and Joe though that cannot be Joyce back already.

It was the coal man Brian Plummer.

“How much is it Brian?

“Four Pounds ten shillings, I’ve put ten bags in the coal house Joe.”

“Where’s you good wife today?

“She died two days ago Brian.”

“My God said Brian; I’m sorry mate I didn’t know she was ill.”

“She wasn’t Brian; she died giving birth to my daughter.”

“How tragic was that; my condolences to her family Joe; she was a lovely woman.”

“She always made me and the lads a cup of tea.”

“I can make you one if you like said Joe apologetically.”

“No you are alright Joe; next time maybe.”

“I am getting a house keeper so she will pay you next time as I may be out on the boat.

“Okay, you take care of yourself my friend.”

 “I will.”

Brian left through the back door and Joe heard him tell his work mates that Emily Rose had died.

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