Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sept. 11 - Dust to Deliverance and my own story

I have been doing a 7 book covers in 7 days challenge over on Facebook, invited by my wonderful Aunt Kathy. She challenged me last week and I realized that my 7th day would be September 11th, and I knew what cover I would be sharing today.

In doing so, I ended up sharing a short version of my own story, so I thought I would just share that here today.

 Jessica DuLong is an old friend from my Pier 63 days. She's an engineer on the Fireboat John J. Harvey, which, although retired, served so well at the WTC site. She is also an author, and after untold hours of collecting stories from so many of us who were there on the waterfront that day, she crafted an amazing retelling of the story of the maritime evacuation that went on that day.

I had fled the WTC during the attacks and ended up at Pier 63. I was a partner at the Manhattan Kayak Company at that time, and we were based at Pier 63. I was in the subway station when the 2nd plane hit and managed to get onto a train that pulled in moments after the boom. I didn't care where it was going, it just seemed like the safest way out. It was northbound, so I got off at 23rd street, still not really knowing what had happened. I had been going into the WTC's ground-level mall from outdoors when the first plane hit, fled into the building for shelter without looking up to see what had exploded above my head, and gone into the subway station when the police began evacuating the mall and stopped me from going out the same way I came in - so all I knew was the sound of screaming engines ending in a noise like a gigantic firework, and then, a few minutes later, another boom that set everyone in the subway station running again.

I'd ducked into a turnstile to get out of the stampede, saw the train pulling in downstairs, and made a run for it. When I got off the train at 23rd street, I first stopped at the Moonstruck Diner, where I would often stop for breakfast on my way to a day of teaching or guiding at MKC. Everyone there was looking at the television and that was when I saw what had happened.

 In those days Pier 63 was like my 2nd home so that is where I went next. John Krevey, the owner, saw what was needed and called some of the party boats that would use Pier 63 as a boarding location. The funny thing there is that I didn't actually know how we ended up running a ferry to Weehawken that day until Jessica interviewed me - I think I was still a little bit in shock and just didn't even think to wonder where the boats came from - there they were and that's what we were doing. And to this day I am so grateful that I was there. It was so good to be given a purpose on a terrible day.

Full version of my own story, as written for my family that evening: Link


songbird's crazy world said...

Wow, Bonnie, that makes you one of the heroes of the day.

If I hadn't changed jobs earlier that year, I would have been getting off the E train and walking into the concourse around 8:45 that morning, headed to 120 Broadway. But I was working on Long island in September 2001, and thankfully missed all the "excitement".

bonnie said...

I'm so glad you got to miss all of that.

There were SO MANY heroes that day. The ones in uniform, the ones in business suits and office casual, the ones in jeans and t-shirts, work many people just doing their best to do right by each other.

That was actually the beauty of the day and the days that followed.

Painless Mama said...

This was the first year that C (now 12) has asked me about my experience that day. She needed to interview someone close to her and write a response for homework. She's learned about the larger-scale events through school, but never wanted to delve into what happened to us. It was hard, but a good conversation.

bonnie said...

I'm glad it was a good talk. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a teacher or parent having to explain something so awful and still close to a young person.

bonnie said...

Although if I had to I know I would just stress so hard how people helped each other that day and in the following days.