SCHENECTADY — Ann Graham likes to joke that she broke her back last year so she could move to Schenectady Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing to spend more time with her husband, Arthur Graham, who already was living there.
Ann Graham is 93, and Arthur Graham recently turned 100. The couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary last September, and Tuesday they will celebrate Valentine’s Day. Arthur ordered Ann a special heart-shaped box of candies.
The box is filled with dark chocolates, Arthur said, because dark chocolate is Ann’s favorite. The couple explained their secret to a long happy marriage is laughing a lot.
“We’ve always laughed a lot,” Ann said. “We’re very humorous to each other.”
As Arthur took his time opening the package containing the candy for his wife, she joked that if he took any longer he could give it to her for her birthday next month.
“He always calls me dear,” Ann said. “My friends used to make fun of him, saying ‘oh yeah dear, yes dear, no dear;’ we were all younger than him, I married an old man.”
Arthur and Ann met at an American Legion dance when Ann was 17 and Arthur was 24. Ann had been friends with Arthur’s sister. They were married Sept. 11, 1949, when Ann was 20, and Arthur was 27.
“We went down to the shore and it rained for a few minutes when we were getting married,” Ann said. “That’s supposed to be good luck.”
Arthur first liked Ann because she was the “funniest girl he ever met,” with a great sense of humor. Ann said she fell for Arthur because he was “so smart.”
“I liked you because you have a brain,” Ann said to Arthur. “People would say ‘Oh he was so cute.’ I always say I never noticed because I was so interested in what he could teach me.”
The couple lived in Brooklyn after the war. There was a housing shortage at the time, so the couple lived in Navy barracks for a time.
“There was a shortage because there was no building during the war,” Ann said. “Remember that Art? We had to go up all those stairs. It was where they used to put the sailors when they were training, in Manhattan Beach.”
The couple moved to Mamaroneck, Westchester County, where they raised two sons. In 1991 they moved to Clifton Park to help their son with their grandchildren. Arthur and Ann now have five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“Behind every good man, there’s a woman, telling him he’s wrong,” Arthur Graham said. “But seriously, Ann is such a great support. She was my child-bride. She was 17 the first time I met her. I was 23 and just home from the war [WWII]. So we had a long life together.”
Arthur was in the Ninth Army Airforce as a medic behind the front lines during WWII. Arthur worked as an insurance agent for most of his life. He had been studying biology in school and was planning to become a veterinarian, which was why he became a medic in the war, his son explained. He met someone in the Army who was in insurance who asked Arthur to look him up when he got home.
Ann worked as a reporter in Brooklyn in the 1940s. At the end of WWII she was turned down for a job at the New York Times and was told it was because the jobs were going to go to GIs.
“They’ve been happily married for 73 years,” Richard Graham said. “I think in 73 years you have ups and downs, but they keep trucking along.”
Ann and Arthur loved to square dance most weekends when they were younger. They learned the Minuet Dance, and traveled throughout the state dancing for the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. Ann sewed costumes the couple danced in and won a prize for their outfits.
“I’ll never forget Ann’s words the first time we danced,” Arthur said. “I danced the jerky pre-war swing-type and she was dancing current smooth dancing, and as we finish she turned her back on me and she says, ‘Do you pick ’em up off of the floor when you’re finished?’ So it was not love at first sight. I tell people it was love at third sight.”
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