While I was looking through pictures of my grandparents I came upon these two black-and-whites: Joseph and Minerva “Mickie” Yakowicz, looking dapper in Prospect Park in 1945.
My grandfather, who was born in 1918 in New Castle Pa., was a Staff Sergeant Pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, received his Master’s Degree at Columbia University, his Doctorate in Economics at NYU and was the Senior Vice President Security Analyst for Moseley Hallgarten Estabrook & Weeden Holding Corp. in NYC.
My grandmother, born in 1922 in Miami, Florida was a “grey lady” at a Red Cross hospital in Miami during WWII, went to Pratt for fashion design and then was a housewife and raised three boys.
During WWII, Joe joined the Army Air Corps and rose in the ranks to become a Staff Sergeant Pilot in a hang gliding unit.
The day before his unit was deployed over seas, he crashed during the last training session. He told me that he remembered jumping off a cliff, suspended in his glider when all of a sudden he began to fall.
Someone purposely messed with his glider, a cruel prank. The last thing he remembered, as he told me one day sitting at his kitchen table, sipping his cappuccino, was seeing the tops of the pine trees coming closer and closer and then—darkness.
When he woke up, a priest was reading him his last rights in a hospital, for he was going to die, that’s what the doctors said. He broke every bone in his body and was in a full-body cast. He shooed away the priest, stating, “I’m not going to die, dammit!”
And he didn’t, that was almost 70 years ago.
Instead, he met a very beautiful and smart "Gray Lady," an American Red Cross volunteer (they provided non-medical, friendly and personal services to disabled, injured and sick patients) in a hospital in Miami, and courted her, yes while he was in a full body cast, for an entire year.
They got married, traveled the world and were together for 67 years. They celebrated their anniversary every month on the 19th.
My grandfather , on Dec. 16, due to a long battle of cancer. He was 93.
Joe and Mickie came to Prospect Park many times, either after Mickie got out of class at Pratt, after Joe got out of work, or on the weekends.
My grandmother cannot remember what month this picture was taken, but she did say Prospect Park was “paradise” and one of their favorite places to walk and hold hands.
Walking was one of their favorite pastimes. While Joe was in a body cast after his accident, their first date was a nice walk (he refused to use a wheelchair, so he used crutches) around the hospital’s grounds, sitting on benches whenever he needed a break. That first date was the first time they held hands.
So this picture represents to my grandmother a typical date of any day of the week throughout their long, romantic relationship.
Will Yakowicz is editor of Park Slope Patch.