This two part series highlights a selection of the diverse love stories in the 9/11 Memorial Museum's audio collection. Drawn from longer oral histories, an edited portion of audio is selected to play in the memorial exhibition. Below are the stories of two 9/11 victims as described by their loved ones.
Howard & Granvilette Kestenbaum
Newark native Howard Kestenbaum lived in Montclair, N.J. with his wife Granvilette. The two had a grown daughter. He worked as a senior vice president at Aon Corporation. On Sept. 11, he was at his office on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower.
Granvilette Kestenbaum remembers special moments in their marriage:
"Howard, at heart, was always an astrophysicist. He got his PhD in astrophysics but then, some years later, switched to business. There is a site on the Internet where you can find out what’s happening in the skies at any given moment. And for Howard, what was happening in the skies was always in the dead of winter when it was cold. Whatever he wanted was there at three o’clock in the morning. Howard wanted to share this with me, so usually we would be out there from about one thirty, one forty-five, until three o’clock, in the freezing cold, waiting for this phenomenon. I learned not to say I could not see the phenomenon through the telescope, because then I had to stand there until he adjusted this telescope until I could see. I learned, after the third time, that what I should do is to say, 'Yes, I see it! It is wonderful! Oh, yeah! I can see the cloud of those! I can see it shooting! I know that’s a planet. I know that’s Jupiter,' and we got to go inside much quicker, and we stayed married."
Dorothy and Nicholas Chiarchiaro
Dorothy Chiarchiaro grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. A date on a street called Love Lane led to 37 years with her husband, Nicholas. They lived in Glenwood, NJ, and raised two children. Chiarchiaro was an administrative assistant at Fred Alger Management, where her niece, Dolores Costa, was a vice president. On Sept. 11, the two were at work on the 93rd floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower.
Nicholas Chiarchiaro remembers when he fell in love with his wife:
"I’m on my way to my girlfriend’s house to give her her Christmas gifts, and I stopped in to give my cousin, Rose, a kiss for Christmas, and I did so, and Dorothy was there, and—stunning as you are, my dear, with those beautiful legs. And you asked me for a kiss, and I said, 'Sure,' and my face went one way, and yours went the other, and our lips met. Well, honey, you know what happened to me. I fell so deeply in love in moments, it was just unbelievable—I don’t know how I was able to stand. I drove to my girlfriend’s house, gave her her Christmas gifts, and said, 'I’m sorry. I have to leave. I just fell in love with someone,' and all I left was a stunned young lady at the doorway. Well, for three months, I drove my cousin, Rose, crazy, and all she kept saying, 'Dammit, would you please call her?' And you know, honey, what happened. I finally did. And when you got on the phone, and I asked you if you’d like to just go for a ride, or say 'hello,' and you very calmly said to me, 'Hey Nick, what took you so long?'"