Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buildings as Babysitters, Family and More

Ten years ago today, I was a newspaper reporter, living in Schenectady, NY. That day, there was a primary election in my coverage area, which meant a late night and hence, a late start.
Not quite ready to start my day, I was watching cartoons in bed when my phone rang. I picked it up and it was my Dad, who said, “I just want to let you know that Mom and I were attending a program uptown and we’re okay.” I had no idea what he was talking about. He went on to tell me how a plane had accidentally flown into the World Trade Center.
I immediately switched channels only to see the rest of the horror story that wasn't fictional unfold.
I have strong feelings about the loss of life that occurred that day, but on a more personal level, I was affected by the loss of the physical buildings. It sounds odd, but they played a big role in my life.
For 18 years, growing up in Brooklyn Heights, I looked out on those towers from my kitchen window. They always delighted me. A hundred and ten floors! Wow! (It’s still pretty awesome, truth be told ….) But what meant more was that I could see them from my house. (Y’know, like “someone else” and Russia?)
When saying you were from Brooklyn merited a “Where’s that?” it was pretty darn cool to know how close I lived to “The City.”
But I’m more closely “related” to the towers through my paternal grandparents.
In 1977, we celebrated their 49th (and last) anniversary, at “Windows on the World,” a gourmet restaurant on the 106th and 107th floors of the north tower with sky-high prices to match. I remember everyone being so warm and friendly and looking so festive. Today, most of the people at that party are gone, making the memory even more poignant and special.
The north tower also boasted a 727-foot communications antenna on its roof. Returning from college in St. Louis, we’d often fly over NYC on approach to La Guardia Airport. One exceptionally gray day, the clouds were super low. Just before landing, I saw this spike sticking up into the sky, coming seemingly out of nowhere. It was so surreal it scared me. It took a minute to realize that it was the antenna. It was awesome to realize in that moment that this building literally “scraped the sky.”
But what I remember best is going with Grandma to a kite exhibit on the tippy top floor of the north tower. I’d guess I was six or seven years old. In those days, going to Manhattan was an occasion that warranted dressing up for. I recall standing in the foyer of my parents’ apartment – the one with that really cool view – while my grandmother “fixed her face.” All of a sudden she turned to me and very seriously inquired in her high-pitched, nasal voice, “Do I have on enough lipstick for this occasion?”

Written for BFF inspiration 122, Theme: Time Traveler


  1. Such wonderful memories! You're very lucky to have experienced such special times.

  2. Oh, wow, I get chills...I am so glad you got to experience those wonderful memories like that, and that pic at the top was AMAZING!! Growing up in Florida all my life and never visiting NY, I have never experienced being high up in a building like that and seeing that incredible, beautiful view! I am so glad you had such memories, it is so nice to hear nice memories like that. It is still so painful and raw to remember that day when the towers fell. Thank you for this post and giving a different "view", an 'angle' that the majority of us will have never known. Great post! :)-Katwin2010

  3. Great memories! I went to the top of the WTC in 1980, and my main memory is of those super-fast elevators, and then of course the view from the top.

  4. You have some cool memories of such a great place!! I have a great picture of me and my mom on a ferry to the Statue of liberty and in the fog behind us you can see the towers. That pic is so special to me.

    Cheers, Jenn

  5. I enjoyed reading your memories. It is easy to see how this tragedy touched your life in such a personal way. On a lighter note, I smiled when I read about your grandmother and her lipstick because it prompted me to remember a memory of my own grandmother. Every time the telephone rang, my grandmother stopped in front of the mirror to check her appearance before she answered the phone. LOL

    Great blog! I enjoyed it very much.