Diane Grannum of Baldwin recalls her childhood friendship with future husband Michael.
Our story begins with our fathers, who knew each other in the 1940s before we were born. After serving in World War II, they returned home to Brooklyn and each married.
Our families, the Pankeys and the Grannums, lived on Decatur Street. I remember Michael from the early 1950s when I was 6 and he was 9. We went to the same elementary school, Holy Rosary Catholic School on Chauncey Street. We would go to the local candy store, called The Sweet Shop, and sometimes we played together. He had a red bike back then, which he seemed preoccupied with most of the time.
Michael was an altar boy, and I got used to seeing him at Sunday Mass. He also served at my Communion and Confirmation.
In 1960, my family moved to St. Albans, Queens. His family moved to Flatbush in 1964. Eventually, my parents divorced, as did Michael’s, but his father remained a close family friend. One day in the summer of 1970, he brought Michael with him to our house for a visit. We then lived on Dekalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn.
Michael was attending Fayetteville State University in North Carolina on a track scholarship. He had traded in his red bicycle for a motorcycle.
I wasn’t at all interested in him, but he kept coming back to see me. He’d bring my favorite takeout food, jumbo fried shrimp and French fries, from Junior’s restaurant. I kept telling him not to come back, but that didn’t stop him. I did find Michael to be funny, interesting, sincere and intelligent. He was, and still is, very romantic.
Within a few months we became best friends. Before he went back to finish his senior year at college, he proposed and I accepted.
Our parents responded with shock when we told them of our decision to marry. They weren’t happy. We expected the opposite reaction since they already knew each other. I guessed that they were afraid for us since their marriages hadn’t lasted.
They did cooperate with our wedding plans, and on March 4, 1972, we were married at St. Francis of Assisi Church on Maple Street in Brooklyn.
In 1977, we moved from Brooklyn to Hempstead with our young son. We worked full-time jobs while continuing our educations. In 1988, Michael received his master’s degree in human resources and manpower planning from The New School for Social Research, and I received a master’s degree in special education from The College of New Rochelle. I also got a master’s degree in supervision and administration from Baruch College in 1995.
We both retired in 2008. Michael was vice president of global technology at Morgan Stanley in Brooklyn. I was both director of early childhood education and assistant director for Region 9 with the New York City Board of Education.
In 2008, we became Realtors and now work with Exit Realty Premier in Massapequa Park, which we love.
Tragedy struck in 2013, when our son succumbed to heart failure. Losing him was nearly unbearable. We do have a number of surrogate daughters and sons who were his best friends, which helps a lot.
This year, Michael and I celebrated our 45th anniversary with family and friends at our second home in the Pocono Mountains. We also spent some time together at Foxwood’s Hotel and Casino Resort in Connecticut. Michael continues to be my best friend and is an incredible person and husband.
— With Virginia Dunleavy