Saturday, September 10, 2011

My memories of the World Trade Center.

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 can never be minimized or forgotten. I did not personally know any of the thousands who lost their lives but I still feel the loss.

I have a different memory of the World Trade Center. The complex was built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. My mother was a purchasing agent for the PA and was the supervising buyer. It was her responsibility to buy every nut, bolt, lighting fixture, piece of furniture, etc. that went into those buildings. She awarded the contracts for those who did the construction. I watched those structures as they were erected with awe and fascination. I remember when the PA moved into the towers. The elevators were a unique experience. The view from my mothers office was breathtaking. I would visit often. I remember the opening of the Windows on the World restaurant... my mother had enough clout to secure a reservation the first week... after all, she bought everything in the place. We sat next to Walter Cronkite that evening and were graced with the spectacular view of twinkling lights and stars. It was a magical night.
My mother retired in the mid 80's and other than using the PATH, I no longer spent much time there. There were a few visits back to the restaurant.. it went through several incarnations, and sometimes just a visit to the bar to wait for friends or have lunch. My mother passed away in 1995 and in 1997 I moved to Arizona.

A little after 6:00 a.m. (local time) on September 11, 2001 my phone rang. No one calls me that early so I knew something bad happened. My ex called me and told me I had better turn on my TV. ... a plane flew into one of the towers. Not long after that my daughter called me as well. She worked in lower midtown and her office faced the south tower. She could not see the north tower but could see smoke. While I was on the phone with her, all of a sudden I heard her gasp and scream. She said she could see another plane and it flew into tower two. She was 22 years old and like most of us, naive to such hatred and violence. She walked more than 50 blocks to get back to her apartment.

I felt like I had lost a best friend.... memories. I was glad my mother was not around to see this. It would have killed her. These were her children.
For many years we lived in a condo on the Jersey side of the Hudson river. The view from our windows was a sweep from the Verazano bridge to the GW bridge. I saw the lights of the towers every night.
I remember my next trip back to NY and driving across the George Washington bridge from New Jersey into NY. I always loved seeing the towers in the distance. This time, there was nothing but a huge gap where they should have stood. I started crying. I had to pull off the road when I got off the bridge... I could not contain my tears. For years I averted my eyes when I made the crossing. My daughter and friends have moved and I no longer take that route into NY.

To memories.... of people and places.


deanna7trees said...

interesting to read your relationship with the towers and how the loss effected you. i remember that day as if it was yesterday. such a sad memory. i had a friend in NY who worked in the north tower and was able to get out safely.

Rayna said...

Sherryl - the pain of the connection to your mother...I can't even imagine! I am so sorry.

Through the shock and horror (and not being able to contact my daughter, who worked in NY) I was dry-eyed. But I lost it completely when Howard Lutnick, chair of Cantor Fitzgerald, cried on tv. I knew Howard when he was a teenager and not only did his brother die, he lost more than 500 employees that day. He had taken his daughter to her first day of school and was late to the office.

I wept for that empty sky every time I was on the helix to the tunnel, drove on the turnpike, or walked in NY - it went on for a few years. I remember having been at Windows on the World with Marty for brunch and dinner -- and I wanted to get married there, although it turned out not to be feasible for some reason. I had called on clients in that building. And since the PATH was my route into the city for years, my heart was broken. All I could see was the Hudson News stand at the bottom of those big escalators - no longer there. The shops and the top of the escalator where I met Marty so many times in the years before we were married. Gone.

I cried the first time I was able to take the PATH back to the WTC and was happy that they did not change the name of the stop.

Terri Gold said...

I felt the same way about the empty skyline when first going over the GWB after 9/11. I've been back to NYC very few times since. It's too painful.