Dennis Harrington of Fort Salonga recalls the day he first spoke to JoAnn, his future wife.
In 1961, I was 17 and starting my senior year at Archbishop Molloy High School, an all-boys’ school in Briarwood, Queens. I took the Q5A bus from Rosedale, Queens, to the Jamaica subway station. One day a very pretty girl boarded at Springfield Gardens. Actually, she was beautiful! Each day I hoped I’d see her, and when I did I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. Some weeks later, I noticed her looking back and smiling! Due to severe shyness, I could not muster up the nerve to speak to her.
After graduation, I was working in Manhattan. I was on the same bus going to the Jamaica station, and there she was again. Finally I said, “Good morning,” and introduced myself. Her name was JoAnn Siracuse. She was 16 and a junior at Jamaica Vocational High School, an all-girls’ school. We talked every morning, exchanged addresses and phone numbers, but I still didn’t ask her for a date.
Two months later I got a job with Eastern Airlines at Idlewild Airport [now known as Kennedy Airport], and I broke all contact with beautiful JoAnn. However, I’d drive past her house in my ’59 Chevy Impala filled with regret but lacking the confidence to knock on her door. Then, in early 1964 my telephone rang. It was JoAnn. She asked if I would like to take her to her senior prom in May. I was stunned but immediately said “Yes!” I arranged to pick her up from school the next day and told her to look for a white Chevy convertible. She replied, “I know what your car looks like. I saw it when I would pass your house.” She had been walking to my house with her friends hoping to see me. From that moment on, she has been the love of my life!
On July 4, 1964, I gave her my high school ring. A year later I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, serving as a jet mechanic at various air bases around the country. That November, while home on leave, I proposed to JoAnn at Brookville Park in Rosedale.
We were married at Holy Name of Mary Church in Valley Stream on Aug. 27, 1966, with a reception at Carl Hoppl’s in Baldwin. At this time, I was in the New York Police Department Academy, and JoAnn was working for Eastern Airlines. We had to postpone our honeymoon until the following year and spent it in Puerto Rico and Bermuda.
In 1970 we moved to Melville and I finished my service with the Marine Reserves in 1971. JoAnn received her bachelor of science degree in business management and communication in 1988 from Adelphi University in Garden City, and I received a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice in 1981 from New York Institute of Technology. We moved to Fort Salonga in 2004.
Our love affair resulted in two beautiful daughters. We have two sons-in-law and six grandchildren. I retired from the NYPD in 1992 as a detective assigned to the Queens district attorney’s office. I then worked from 1994 to 2012 as a senior investigator for the New York City Department of Education. JoAnn, also retired, was a human resources manager.
We celebrated our 50th anniversary in Montana and Wyoming with our older daughter and her family. On Aug. 27, we dined at the Mill Pond House in Centerport, with our younger daughter and her oldest daughter.
To this day, I am grateful that this beautiful girl didn’t give up on me, and asked me to her prom. Thus far it has been a wonderful life.
— With Virginia Dunleavy