SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 6, 2011

READERS' MEMORIES: SEPT. 11, 2001


I was home sick from work on 9/11. I was chatting online with my best friend and we both were watching the "Today" show. We saw Matt Lauer interrupted with the news bulletin of the first tower crash. I remember commenting that it was so surreal that it sounded like a movie being staged. Then the second plane hit and all that was dispelled.

Michael P. Reilly

Salem

I live in North Carolina now, but on 9/11, I was in Salem, which is where I was born and raised. My mom had just passed away and I was there because I was the executor of mom's will, taking care of attorney business and trying to get the will settled. I was up early and had turned on the TV to listen to the morning news until my sister got up. While making breakfast, the newscasters went crazy and I sat down to watch. I couldn't believe my eyes! I did watch while the second plane went into the building. It sent chills up my spine and I was very saddened by watching the people with fear on their faces running for their lives. Then when I saw those that jumped out the windows I was mad! By then we knew it was a terrorist attack. I had plane reservations to go back to Florida where I lived and by midday I realized I would not be able to get out of Boston airport, as it was a crime scene and was closed. I walked down to Canal Street and rented a Hertz car immediately and was lucky I was there early and was able to secure a car for the trip home.

Arthur Goddu

Franklin, N.C.

On 9/11, my husband and I were on vacation in Williams Junction, Ariz., visiting the Grand Canyon. We had just put our home on the market in Danvers, left the marketing of the house to our real estate agent, and had gone on a long-planned vacation.

Early in the morning of 9/11, Arizona time, we called our Realtor to see how the marketing was going and got "OMG, aren't you watching the terrorist attack in N.Y. on TV?" Of course, we were stunned and immediately turned on the TV. We discussed going home, but transportation was scarce and there was nothing we could do by going home, even if we found a way to get there.

Luckily we had pre-booked rental cars, hotel reservations, etc., in advance, so we drove on to the Hoover Dam (which was closed to tourists) and then drove on to Las Vegas, which was a ghost town. The airports were closed, so no one could fly in or out. People were actually buying cars and driving them to L.A. to get out of town. All the outdoor neon signs and billboards had been cleared of advertising, and American flags and "God Bless America" signs were everywhere. All the outdoor and indoor shows were canceled.

We drove on to Anaheim and visited Disneyland. It, too, was mostly deserted. The few people that were there were in a somber mood. It was not "The Happiest Place."

We left there and drove up to Sacramento and took the train back home.

When we arrived back in Danvers, where we both grew up and went to school, we could not have been prouder of the people of our town. American flags were flying everywhere and there was a feeling of companionship with friends, neighbors and everyone. For we all had had our homeland attacked and were not going to let this horrible event tear us apart. It made us stronger and closer and more happy to be Americans.

David and Carol Lord

Danvers

Sept. 11, 2001, was my first day at Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton. I was on campus with about 100 or so new students, and most of the faculty, for orientation. We had enjoyed a morning worship service together, and we gathered to be addressed by the school's president when someone came in and handed him a note. He made the announcement about the first plane hitting and we were all in shock. All the original activities were suspended and we were allowed to leave. However, I couldn't imagine a better place to be to deal with my confusion and so I stayed. After watching some of the coverage on TV and having a quiet lunch together, the remaining students and faculty gathered in the Meetinghouse and we led in a service of grieving. The beautiful hardwood floors of the room were covered with dirt and rocks, broken bricks and glass, and a single red rose. The worship leader taught us how to wail from the bottom of our hearts and we were encouraged to express what we were feeling in word and in song. That experience cemented my call to ministry at a time when I wasn't sure God was truly calling me. It was amazing, to say the least. If I had to be anywhere, I was glad I was there.

Cindy Antonuk

Beverly

On that Tuesday morning I watched, in horror, this most tragic event, on a TV at work. It was so hard to imagine that just the day before, just 17 hours earlier on the 10th, we had enjoyed probably one of the last lunches served in the Windows of the World Restaurant located on the top two floors of the North Tower. As we were leaving we noticed the crew from a yacht, docked in the nearby marina, come into the restaurant. While waiting for the ferry, we noticed the beautiful yacht the crew was from, Symphony. Three weeks later we were in a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. While waiting for a table for our group, we had a conversation with a man there thought to be "a familiar face from up north." Imagine our surprise to find we were talking to Hugh, the captain of the yacht Symphony. He told a frightening tale of getting Symphony out into the Hudson, clear of the marina as the towers crumbled and being put into service for water rescues, getting the rescued over to New Jersey and getting emergency responders from New Jersey back across the Hudson to New York. With Symphony in the safe waters of Florida, Hugh was just then, three weeks later, finally able to sleep.

Jane Ferguson

Salem

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a freshman at Beverly High School. I actually stayed home from school sick that day. I remember waking up and looking at my TV and seeing the first plane in the first tower hit and the smoke coming out of the building. When I saw that image on the TV I thought it was a movie or TV show and I just went back to sleep. Then my mom came in my room and woke me up just before the second plane hit. My heart just sank when I realized what I was really watching on TV. It was the Fox 25 Morning News. It was so horrible yet I still couldn't look away. What a day to stay home sick. I remember spending the rest of the day in front of my TV in the living room cuddled under the blankets with my mother. Something like that sticks with you forever. I will always remember where I was that day.

Emily Tsiopanas

Salem

I just happened to be setting up the community room at Fairweather Apartments in Peabody for an ecumenical gathering of local religious leaders. The theme of the day: forgiveness. Ironic. The gathering, needless to say, was intense. Fairweather is an elderly community. We all watched the TV together along with religious leaders that had arrived. Thank you for asking. God bless the USA.

Eric Wilkins

Salem

My wife's eldest sister worked two blocks away from the World Trade Center but was stuck about 20 blocks north after the first plane hit. Verna could distinctly see material falling from the burning towers. Only later did she realize that she had witnessed people jumping to their deaths.

Roxanne and Verna were on the phone for about an hour until the first tower collapsed, taking their only means of communication with it. It was six hours of anxiety for her safety until she had a chance to get through again.

I was participating in a labor meeting when a manager interrupted with news that the World Trade Center was on fire. I went to my truck to retrieve a portable TV. Within 15 minutes, we all watched as the second plane struck and we intuitively knew that this was no accident.

Our second daughter had just left the Air Force and her family was living with us for their transition. Her husband — still on active duty — was with us while between assignments. We all knew what this horror would mean for the country.

Our youngest granddaughter at the time was due to have her first birthday party in four days. We managed to put aside thoughts of destruction for a few hours that Saturday - fully aware that so many good families no longer had such a luxury.

Dan Flathers

Peabody

 

I saw it on TV in my living room while making arrangements for the funeral of my brother (57 years old) who passed Sept. 9. Yes, I did see the second plane hit.

Judi Ortiz

Salem

I was inside a kitchen; saw boss putting hands on head in disbelief; came out and saw second plane hit, then asked. Boss said not movie, really happening, yes; couldn't believe.

Jim Pauls

Salem, lived in Lynn on 9/11

I was in Boston. My husband had an eye injury and needed to go to the doctor. His mother was coming to pick him up because I had depositions at a law firm in Boston. She called and told us to put on the television. I thought, "How awful!" and kissed my husband goodbye and told him to call me later. As I drove into Boston the news got worse and worse. Think I must have been one of the last people let up into the building. As we watched the news on television in the conference room, all eyes continued to glance out the window as the building overlooked Logan airport. Finally, the attorney who called the deposition agreed to reschedule (which only made sense since the witness was stuck in the lobby as security wasn't letting anyone up) and we all gathered our things to go home. As I drove out of the parking garage I was terrified at the empty, quiet streets. I said a silent thank-you that my husband was not in his office in the John Hancock Tower and made my way home. I spent the rest of the day watching television and praying for those at the centers of the tragedy.

Leslie Salter

Beverly