Sunday, September 11, 2016

On 9/11, 'We are OK; our city is not'

We had Passover once at Windows on the World, the spectacular restaurant on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center, with views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. It was a big treat.

Sometimes we went out on Jewish holidays to give my mother a break from doing it. Our apartment was small. Sometimes we extended the dining room table with a bridge table or made a children's table in our bedroom. It could turn into a large group including our extended family. I remember getting dressed up to go to Windows on the World, and then the long ride up in the elevator.

Ben was in kindergarten, Joe still a tiny little thing.

Ben had been fascinated (OK, obsessed) with presidents. On his bookshelf, books about sports and books about presidents. We read presidents' biographies. He had a presidents placemat, which I have kept all these years.

When we passed Greenwich, Connecticut, on the way down to New York, he was so excited: President George Bush was from there. He even wanted to detour and drive around. I actually can't remember if we did. It would have been difficult because the parkways would have been jammed with people going to "the old country."

Ben could recite the presidents in order. My mother had him do it for the occasion. I can see him in his little bowl cut with bangs. If it was these days I might have made a Youtube video and turned him into a star. He was a star anyway.

My parents were at doctors' appointments on 9/11. They were walking up Fifth Avenue when a Good Samaritan got them a cab. My father had gotten unsteady at this time a little more than a year before his death. It was a minor miracle.

When I went to The Republican to do my part in the stories that we were all feeding to one reporter, I (also miraculously) got through to my cousin Bruce in New York. He told me that my parents had gotten home to the apartment on upper Fifth Avenue, from which you could see the smoke downtown.

"We are OK," Bruce said. "Our city is not."

My father sat on my living room couch months later in the spot near the window where he liked to read The New York Times in the morning sun.

"The bastards," he said.

What they had done to our city. It was, and is, a living thing to us. I haven't lived there for a long time, but it is still my city. I wasn't there, but yet I was.

Compared to all the tragedy, this was, and is, incredibly minor. But I was so sad that he saw the destruction and he never saw our city repaired. At least my mother had that.

On 9/11, 79 employees of that spectacular restaurant in the sky lost their lives. They were among 2,753 who died in New York, out of a total of 2,996 in the country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another Note -- many people circulated Auden's poem, September 1, 1939, after the WTC -- since it was eerily prophetic...Also, E. B. White's Essay, Here is New York -- by the way, you gave my Mother a collection of his essays, which made her very happy...