The Ghost of September Past: My 9-1-1 Notes


Below: Ladder 8 Firefighters (Twin Towers in Background, photo by Jeanne) Click Images to Enlarge (all photos 1998 copyright Jeanne)

Ladder 8 lost one man, Lieutenant Vincent Halloran, in the Twin Towers. These three heroes survived (photo 1998 copyright M-Jeanne).

newyorker_oct_29_2001

Above: Gratitude Was Roundly Expressed to the Heroes of 9-1-1, Many of Whom Climbed the Stairway to Heaven that Day, on Behalf of Their Fellow Citizens


My Local Paper Obits, The Princeton Packet, September 18th, 2001 (click to enlarge) Features Local Victims of the 9-1-1 Massacre.

The Todd Beamer obituary continues on the second image. And then there is the obit of my old friend whom I worked with in the English-Speaking Union, Henry Chace Tatnall. I’d gone to his wedding, and would go to his memorial service. The 9-1-1 experience was such that everyone was on needles and pins at the church. We still expected anything to happen, for months on end afterwards. Now, people forget, and conspiracy theorists around the world,who hate America, even in Russia, are making 9-1-1 their plaything. Real people saw the planes crash into the towers, and real people died in them.

The tiny Ivy League town Princeton Borough had a heavy cloud of yellow-gray smoke hanging over it at 5:00 a.m. on September 12th, 2001, as I picked up my very truncated issue of the Wall Street Journal from my front porch. The WSJ had moved their HQ during the night, to North Brunswick just up the road from Princeton. The air smelled like burning metal, among other unidentifiable odors. I had been at Princeton Racquet Club the morning before, and one of the owners/coaches (Colleen Cosgrove & Judy) whispered something to the other one, who expressed shock. When I asked what was wrong, they said they’d tell us after class in fifteen minutes. I asked if another building had been blown up in nearby Manhattan–I had been waiting for the second shoe to drop since 1993, when the first bombing of the World Trade Center* was done, orchestrated by the “Blind Sheik” of Jersey City, which was why his followers celebrated on Sept. 11th. (I was in Manhattan that day in February, 1993, and sat in the Plaza Athenée lounge that evening with friends who had been in the WTC when six people were killed by the bomb in its garage. It was total chaos as people tried to leave the tiny island of Manhattan.) Our tennis coach said, “Yes–something like that…”, refusing to give details lest we all panic on their watch. I told my tennis colleague, Cynthia Miner, that this was going to be the news story for a long time to come. I quickly drove home and saw, on television, another plane fly into the Twin Towers. All phone lines were down for hours, giving way to speculation that other places in our area had been hit. I sat on my Nassau St. porch listening to John Gambling, Sean Hannity and Bob Grant on NYC radio , watching for cars. There were none. The town was dead silent, a very unusual occurrence. Later, I found out that one of my neighbors had been killed in the towers, and my next-door neighbor, an attorney for the Guggenheim, could not get home to her children until the next day.

The next day, Wednesday, I hung on my huge tree the Wanted: Dead or Alive New York Post cover, depicting Osama bin Laden, and a sign pleading for unity. I was an elected Republican official in the borough, and made special calls to our Arab Republican Association members, inviting them to our annual Princeton-Harvard tailgate party. We never saw them again.

I had a red and white sign produced by the Times of Trenton: “U.S. Attacked by Terrorists”, which had fallen from the newspaper box on Nassau St., walking distance from my place That was a very strange collectors’ item. I don’t have it anymore, accidentally left it behind when I came west in 2003.

Going into Manhattan three days a week to do freelance work at the Museum of Modern Art and a couple of other art world venues was my usual routine. The sights, sounds and smells of that period are indelible on the minds of everyone who lived and/or worked on the island of Manhattan during that period. Many are nauseated just thinking about that day and its long, gruesome aftermath. One of the photography lab owners I worked with for twenty years closed his business because of the death-stench from the scene downtown, more than twenty blocks away. His business was on West 27th St., and was fortunate enough to have had a country home in the Tri-State Area. He sold his flat in Manhattan, and his lab never opened again.

On January 9th, 2002, 9-1-1 hero Todd (and wife Lisa) Beamer’s baby, Morgan Kay Beamer was born at Princeton Medical Center.

~~Jeanne de St. A, 2005

*Addendum: Here’s a quote from the CBS News page article on “Where the 1993 World Trade Center Twin Towers Bombers are Now”:

Nidal Ayyad, an alleged Rutgers University graduate, is apparently serving his life sentence in a federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.–EDITOR JEANNE’S NOTE:  No, he was a student of my ex-husband in the Chem. Eng. department. This terrorist had been a very poor student, uninterested, unsociable, with very unevolved English skills. He was soon out of the program, disappearing altogether from the university–of course, without graduating. That was some months before he bombed the World Trade Center garage. There was none of the usual palaver when it came to the bomber, such as “He was a nice guy”. Apparently, he had been in the chemical engineering course to learn things that enhance the destructive life of one who hates humanity. I think you know where I’m going here.~~M-Jeanne

Abdul Yasin was tracked down by “60 Minutes” in May of 2002 in an Iraqi facility outside of Baghdad. He had successfully fled the U.S. after the 1993 bombing and remained high on the most-wanted list the entire time.

Yasin, 40 at the time, expressed regret to Leslie Stahl about the bombing and claimed he was talked into it by his fellow bombers, whom he met for the first time while living in Jersey City.

Yes, lots of celebration was going on in Jersey City because, obviously, the terror cell had finally succeeded. The larger crowds of revelers were in “Palestine”.

9-1-1: Murderous Sabotage
My Photo of a Theater in Harley, Pennsylvania, October 2001, Taken on a Trip to the Pocono Mountains, During Which I Witnessed Many Signs of  Patriotism in New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
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