Married at 14 and 17, together for 62 years

Hannah Sparks 7 December 2020 21
Bruce and Dorothy Hubbard standing in their backyard.

Bruce and Dorothy Hubbard – aged 80 and 77, respectively – at home in Bigga, NSW. Photo: Hannah Sparks.

Dorothy and Bruce ‘Bluey’ Hubbard were dealt a bad hand in life, but their marriage – at the ages of 14 and 17, respectively – has stood the test of time.

Today, they are 62 years strong and living happily in Bigga, two hours north of Canberra in regional NSW. They have four children – Lawrence, Jesse, Michelle and Daniel – 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Marrying young was a gamble, but Dorothy and Bluey knew they were better together.

Bluey was just six months old when his father died on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War II. His mother had her hands full with seven children so Bluey, the youngest, was sent into care.

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He spent his childhood between a boys’ home and foster care. No-one came to visit and Bluey had to question if the family he returned to at age 16 was even his.

A year later, he met 13-year-old Dorothy and was accepted into her family – although things weren’t easy there either.

Dorothy’s mum was an alcoholic and the teenager was left to rear her three younger sisters and brothers.

In fact, she stood on the road with one on her hip and the other holding her hand as they watched their first home burn down. The terrace house in Redfern, Sydney – shared by Dorothy’s family and two others – had been set alight by her uncle siphoning petrol in front of an open fire.

Her family eventually moved into emergency accommodation in Sydney’s Hargrave Park, where the couple met. Huts had been built there after World War II to support a booming population during Sydney’s housing shortage.

Bluey’s friend lived in the hut behind Dorothy’s and it wasn’t long before the pair crossed paths.

However, neither family had educated them about sex, and contraception wasn’t widely available back then. Dorothy gave birth to their first child before the couple was married.

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Despite their reservations, Bluey and Dorothy’s mothers consented to their marriage at the local courthouse on 17 May, 1958.

However, it almost didn’t go ahead when Bluey was arrested because of his age. Dorothy’s uncle bailed him out and swore to the police that they would be married shortly.

One can only hope the rest is a love story full of happiness and treasured memories, but Dorothy says the first 15 years of their marriage “were hell”.

People were against their union, but not because of their age. Racism has followed Dorothy – who is part African-American and part Indian – her whole life and it has contributed greatly to her lifelong battle with depression.

“I remember I would get on the bus with the kids and people would move to the other side,” she says. “I’d think, ‘Here we go again.’”

They also had no money and all five of their children were born before Dorothy was 19 years of age. Their second child, a girl, lived for just 22 hours.

“People asked how I did it all by that age, but I had done it by the age of 10 with my own sisters and brothers,” says Dorothy. “And I absolutely loved being a mum. We survived – we were very careful with money and still are because we don’t know any other way to live.”

Dorothy made meals with whatever she had and Bluey took work wherever he could – installing television aerials, working at Homebush Abattoir and chasing chooks at Ingham’s Chicken. Dorothy also pushed to work later on – despite it not being the done thing back then – making showbags for the Sydney Royal Easter Show. However, the couple didn’t get out of debt until 1976.

After their kids had left home, they moved to the northern NSW town of Tenterfield, near the Queensland border, a place they had discovered on their travels. Life was good for a while until the racism returned, this time from neighbours.

So they packed their bags again, still searching for a better life, and found Bigga – a sleepy little place where everyone is welcome that is just three hours from their children in Sydney.

Memories of childhood trauma, racism, poverty and the loss of a child still linger, but Dorothy and Bluey believe you’ve got to talk problems through.

Offering forgiveness and compromise is key to a long-term relationship, says Dorothy.

“It wasn’t until I started going to work and I gained confidence that I spoke to Bluey about the things I didn’t like in our marriage,” she says. “That’s when I realised that if you don’t talk it out, you only hold it in and it makes you angry towards a person.

“Then when they do something you don’t like, you have to be able to forgive and not keep bringing it up, otherwise it will destroy your relationship.”

Original Article published by Hannah Sparks on About Regional.

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21 Responses to Married at 14 and 17, together for 62 years
Sarah Parker Sarah Parker 10:11 pm 15 Dec 20

I bet you hate this two you monster Jessica Ruediger 😂

Karen Sibraa Karen Sibraa 3:54 am 14 Dec 20

A beautiful heartfelt story, a couple with great determination.

Linda D'Arsiè Linda D'Arsiè 10:18 pm 13 Dec 20

Congratulations! What an inspiration you guys are! 💝

Noelle Waugh Noelle Waugh 8:56 pm 13 Dec 20

What a beautiful story 💓

Melda Plenty Melda Plenty 5:26 pm 13 Dec 20

What a wonderful example to the rest of us. A marriage is more that just a civil contract and there has to be give and take on both sides. Well done.

Faye Twaddell Faye Twaddell 3:53 pm 13 Dec 20

Now that’s true 💕

Jo van Meurs Jo van Meurs 1:56 pm 13 Dec 20

What a beautiful story, an amazing couple.. congrats

Patti Wilkins Patti Wilkins 1:42 pm 13 Dec 20

What a beautiful woman. Well done to both of you and every best wishes for happy years ahead.

Rhonda Fulop Rhonda Fulop 1:12 pm 13 Dec 20

What an incredible couple

Penny Hemsworth Penny Hemsworth 1:02 pm 13 Dec 20

Congratulations to them. An inspiration to many who through in the towel at the first sign of a disagreement.

June Nassar Kirk June Nassar Kirk 12:10 pm 13 Dec 20

What a heartfelt story, thank you Dorothy and Bruce for sharing. You have set a wonderful example that shows it is possible to have resilience in difficult times. As an aside we were housed at Hargrave Park when we arrived in Australia from The Middle East 💜

Carol Gainey Carol Gainey 10:13 am 13 Dec 20

Sue Reynolds maybe Mum and Dad would be interested in this story.

Tracy Gorman Tracy Gorman 8:31 am 13 Dec 20

Life isn’t meant to be easy. But this couple have love enough to endure. Congrats on such a long marriage

Ann Edwards Ann Edwards 8:29 am 13 Dec 20

What a lovely story of life, perseverance and love.

Ann Leverton Ann Leverton 8:07 am 13 Dec 20

What an achievement!

Shirley Hadfield Shirley Hadfield 8:00 am 13 Dec 20

A hard life overcome with an enduring love. ❤️❤️

Tina Shooks Tina Shooks 7:57 am 13 Dec 20

A hard life, made harder by ignorance. A beautiful love story 💕💕

Robyn Ahlstedt Robyn Ahlstedt 7:55 am 13 Dec 20

Cant imagine how hard things have been for them. Makes me realise again how blessed I am, how easy I've had it. Thanks for sharing.

Juanita Dawson Juanita Dawson 7:45 am 13 Dec 20

I am glad they shared their story with us. A hard life but inspiring

Janet Sargent-Smith Janet Sargent-Smith 7:30 am 13 Dec 20

Gosh, a hard life. An inspiring story though, and Dorothy's smile is sensational.

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