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Love Story: Woman's would-be maid of honor became her groom

Jim and Dianne Jackman of Manorville celebrated their

Jim and Dianne Jackman of Manorville celebrated their 50th anniversary this year with a family trip. Credit: Jackman family

Dianne Jackman, of Manorville, recalls the friendship with her future husband, Jim, that turned to love.

I met Jim Jackman in seventh grade at PS 146 in Ozone Park, Queens. We were introduced by mutual friends.  

It was 1957. My name was Dianne Steiger back then. I was 12, and he was 13. I lived in Ozone Park, and Jim lived in Howard Beach. We formed a friendship immediately. Jim was different, more mature than the other boys at school. He was honest and straightforward. He was also a good listener.

Jim couldn’t dance, and I remember going to his house to teach him how to dance the cha-cha. Although he tried, he never quite felt the music.

After graduation from PS 146 in 1958, we went on to John Adams High School in Ozone Park. We ate lunch together daily. Jim would meet me after each class to walk me to my next class. I’d watch Jim play baseball on our school team. In senior year, we were both in the school’s production of “South Pacific.” In one scene, I was dressed as a sailor and Jim was dressed as a Polynesian woman in a muumuu.

We graduated in 1962. Jim joined the New York City Police Department while I got a job with the New York Telephone Co. in Jamaica, Queens.

I began arranging blind dates for Jim and my girlfriends. I half-jokingly said to friends that I wanted Jim as my maid of honor. After all, he was my best friend.

I was having a great time, going out on dates or out with friends. Jim often called my house early on Saturday mornings. When my mom would tell him I was out late the night before, he’d say, “Wake her up; she’ll talk to me.” He’d want to know who I was with, and where we went.

In 1965 I had a steady boyfriend. I decided to tease Jim and told him my steady and I were engaged. Jim’s face fell. I began to suspect that he wanted to be more than my friend.

Two years later, Jim joined the National Guard. Ironically, my boyfriend was drafted into the Army and they were stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey, for training at the same time. Jim’s parents took me to the base where I visited with both of them.  

A few months later, Jim and I were out one evening with friends. We were now 22 years old. I had broken up with my boyfriend and decided to take another look at Jim. I asked him out on a date and kissed him!

After a very short courtship, we were married on Sept. 7, 1968, in two separate ceremonies. One at St. Vincent de Paul Parish , in Elmont, which was Jim’s church, then in a ceremony at my church, Ascension Lutheran Church, in Franklin Square. Our reception was at the Villa Bianca in Flushing, Queens.

Jim served with the National Guard from 1967 to 1973. He was a military police specialist.  He retired from the NYPD Midtown South Precinct in 1981, then worked as a chauffeur-bodyguard for U.S. Trust Co. in Manhattan until 2000. I retired in 2005 as a certified teaching assistant with the Valley Stream Central High School district after 19 years.

We are blessed with two sons, two daughters-in-law, four grandsons and two granddaughters. The entire family celebrated our 50th anniversary in June at Woodloch Resort in Hawley, Pennsylvania. 

Jim and I also celebrated with a two-week trip to Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and Germany.  

By the way, I had to choose someone else as my maid of honor since Jim turned out to be my groom.  

—With Virginia Dunleavy

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