SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 20, 2013

City uneasy, its streets deserted

(Continued)

“I just want to eat,” Tom Nguyen, 32, a healthcare company analyst, said as they passed the normally raucous Big Apple Circus big top at Government Center. “I’ve never seen a city shut down like this for one person. This is very bizarre for us.”

One place that did not shut down was the Union Oyster House, which bills itself as “America’s oldest restaurant.” But it was definitely easier to find a table than during your typical lunchtime.

Several people hunched over seafood and beers around the semicircular bar, and only a few tables upstairs were occupied. Manager Troy Thissell said that didn’t matter.

“The city of Boston said do the best you can do. Our choice. So we chose to open,” said Thissell, who was sporting a “Boston Strong” button on his shirt. “We’ve always in the past. During blizzards and other things, we do open. And we’re going to continue to do so.”

For people accustomed to the bustle of this “big small town,” the quiet was unsettling.

“We just went to get a cup of coffee, and there’s no line at Dunkin’ Donuts,” said electrician Joe Gore, who was sipping his java on a picnic table near Rowes Wharf, where he was helping wire a new Starbucks. “So it’s pretty scary quiet.”

Many people seemed to understand the drastic measures. But others considered it ridiculous.

Miller recently moved to New York after spending the past five years in Israel. As the 29-year-old in the black yarmulke strolled through the city’s Holocaust memorial, he couldn’t help feeling that officials here were overreacting.

“You know, when Israel gets one rocket attack, let’s say it injures three people,” he said. “It’s terrible. This event, thank God it only killed three people. And it injured a lot of people. If a rocket attack injures five people, 10 people in Israel and kills one person, we think, ‘Oh, thank God it only killed one person, it didn’t kill 50 people.’”

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