The town in New Jersey where I lived, where my girls went to high school and on to Rutgers and Monmouth University, where I buried a son in 1973, lost 37 people in the attack. Just folks going to work who caught the 7:11 AM train that day from Middletown – kissed their spouses goodby, drove down the Kings Highway or the Lincroft Road, parked their cars in the station parking lot, bought their coffee and newspaper – took their usual seats – read or snoozed.
The express train makes two stops before rumbling into Newark where they crossed the platform to catch the PATH train to NYC. Many had to stand for this leg of the daily journey. Never enough seats during rush hour crush.
They arrived at the WTC station, rode the gigantic escalators or if young and fit, jogged up the stairs to the underground promenade.
At the top of the escalator they turned right and right again – passed the Duane Reed drug store, shops, flower stalls, coffee carts and the old Chemical Bank branch toward the Tower’s revolving doors. Maybe they bought another coffee as part of their morning ritual.
They walked through the doors to the elevators which whisked them to the sky where Death was waiting in their chairs.
I made that trip for years walking past the Tower doors to the bridge to the World Financial Center with its lobby of indoor palm trees.
Original Lobby of the World financial Center adjacent to the WTC – destroyed on 9/11
How many days did I spend in the towers on business? Lots.
Not that day.
That day I was in Cranford NJ.
I worried about my brother, working in the Deutsche Bank building, The Deutsche Bank Building was heavily damaged after being blasted by the avalanche of debris, ash, dust, and asbestos that spread from the collapse of the South Tower.. And for my friends at American Express in the adjacent World Financial Center. My brother would walk with thousands of others, covered in dust and soot to the Brooklyn Bridge, crossing it on foot to safety. Thousands in the World Financial Center, trapped between the Towers and the river, were evacuated by hundreds of non-descript watercraft to the opposite Jersey shore.
Several months before we had a goodbye party at the office. A young man, born in Russia but here since childhood was leaving for a new position. He was an astute forex trader, earned his spurs with us and was moving on. He was so happy and we were happy for him. His immigrant parents joined us – so proud that their son had “made it” in America.
He went to Cantor Fitzgerald.
I thought of him today.
Navesink River – Middletown
Our town lost more people than any other small town in America outside of New York’s 5 boroughs. Only the much larger City of Hoboken, directly across the river from Manhattan, losing 57, lost more.
Middletown became a funeral pyre; church and synagogue doors opened wide filled with sobbing spouses, parents and teens, praying to hear from loved ones. Lonely cars sat in the vast railroad station parking lot that night waiting for owners who would never come home.
A memorial was built to remember the 37. A path through the woods with a stone memorial to each of the 37 with benches to sit and contemplate.
Appropriately it was built where they said goodbye. At the railroad Station.
Did you kiss her on the cheek?
say good by to your two kids
have your coffee lite no sugar
on this beautiful September morn?
Then fly with me now
for the sky is a color of blue
you’ve never even seen
in the eyes of your lover.