‘The Priest Refused To Marry Us’: A Mixed-Race Couple Tells Their 73-Year Love & Prejudice Story

Nobody, including Trudy Menard, could have predicted that Trudy Menard and Barclay Patoir would eventually become a couple. And one to commemorate over seven decades of marriage! Those around them became less appreciative of their bond as they grew to like each other because Trudy was white and Barclay was black. They even clashed with the priest who was to marry them.But their love triumphed, and they remained together until the end, when they died just hours apart in 2020.

Trudy worked at Bryant and May’s match factory in the UK, but when it was bombed during the Blitz, she needed a new job. She was looking for a new job and was told that the Rootes aircraft plant in Speke was looking for female employees.They were assigned engineers who advised her to choose Barclay. She stated that she will not be dating a black man. She’d never seen anything like it before.’But they told her she’d be fired if she didn’t, so she just did it,” she explained.

Meanwhile, Barclay had just arrived in the UK from British Guiana, now known as Guyana, looking for work as an engineer.During World War II, Britain was short on engineers, so young men from the Caribbean offered to help the home country, he explained. Between 1941 and 1943, 345 people went to Liverpool to help with war production. Among them was Barclay.

When he arrived, he was assigned to work on Halifax bombers at the Speke facility. Trudy admitted she was “scared to death of him” at the time. They didn’t talk for long before he started bringing you a cup of tea and then he started bringing her sandwiches.They couldn’t stop talking even though it took some time for them to warm up to each other.

They’ll never come down now, they’re chatting too much, coworkers used to say. During a production break, the two went on their first date. They took the train to Southport and received some strange looks along the way, but they persisted with their date.Despite the fact that Liverpool had one of the country’s first established Black communities, racism was alive and well.

Trudy explained that she didn’t tell her mother she was going to see Barclay. She mistook her for going into town to meet with the ladies. She had noticed Trudy was overjoyed, but she had no idea why. She threatened to kick her out of the house when she found out.Despite the fact that society told them they shouldn’t be together, Trudy and Barclay strengthened their bond by dating openly in public.

They agreed to take the next step in their relationship about a year into it in 1944, despite Barclay’s warning, “It’s going to be really hard.” She realized she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Barclay. However, marrying him proved challenging. The priest refused to marry them when they went to a local Catholic church. “He went on to say, ‘There are so many colored males coming over here and leaving the women with children.'”

As a result, he will not marry you.’ That made us sad.”However, finding housing was difficult because no one would accept a mixed marriage, according to Barclay. They rented a room in a boarding house and eventually settled in Manchester. In a second wedding ceremony, the couple was married by a Catholic priest. The couple, who had two children, noticed a shift in society’s perception of mixed-race families.Not only did Trudy’s mother change her mind, but so did others.

People used to stop and stare at them, or mutter and laugh as they passed, but now they’re not concerned,” Barclay explained. Trudy noticed that people no longer walk across the street like they used to. Trudy and Barclay were married for 76 years before Trudy died in May 2020. Barclay was 100 years old and Trudy was 99 years old when they died within hours of each other.

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