Notes from essays,
e-mails and letters


Fall/Winter 2001

Wabash men's experiences

“I did not want to believe what was on TV. I frantically dialed my home number many times before I got through. I heard the voice of my mother. She was crying. She could not find my father. Suddenly all went numb inside of me. I felt nothing. I wanted to get sad, but I just felt empty.
“Later that evening, we found out that my father’s job did not send him inside the World Trade Center that day. I spoke with him, and he told me about seeing the plane hit.”
Nnamdi Nwosa ’05, whose father works for the City of New York and regularly serviced the World Trade Center

On the first floor of my office building at 32 Old Slip, there is a fire station. Thirteen men from that engine company died on 9/11. My secretary today brought the remaining men brownies she baked for them last night. She had been coming out of the Path Train (station was in the basement of the WTC) when the first plane hit. As she was running from the building, she saw many people jump to their deaths, so she has been terrified to return to the city. But she wanted to return today in order to deliver those brownies. I am damned proud of her.
From my apartment, I can now hear the sounds of helicopters lifting from a Coast Guard ship outside my window and of machines removing pieces of the ruins at the WTC.
Just found out a good friend and his adopted son were on one of the Boston flights. I'll be going to the memorial service in Syracuse. Very sad times.
Dave Marshall ’83
New York City
from Wally-L posting

I saw the towers collapse. We saw people jump out of buildings, and afterwards we saw the many families torn apart who had lost those they loved. Now, their memories lie in pictures and short journals posted up and down the streets of Manhattan.

Lower Manhattan is demolished and virtually shut down from anybody. I’d spent many hours there in the past. It had been a beautiful place to abide.

In many ways, these deaths remind me of the violence I grew up with and the many deaths in the inner-city neighborhoods of my youth. I will not forget what has happened on this American soil. and I will not forget what has happened during those perilous times of living in volatile inner-city communities. They will have an impact on my work for a long time.
e-mail from Nate Quinn ’00

I work out on Long Island, about 60 miles east of NYC, but happened to be in the city yesterday to attend a water quality conference in the Con Edison building on 14th Street (about 2 miles north of the Trade Center.) I had taken the train in from LI and, it being a beautiful day, was walking to the meeting. At about 8:50 am, I heard a number of sirens and saw rescue vehicles heading south but didn't think much about it as sirens in the city are pretty common. The conference started at 9. At about 10:20 the session moderator informed us that a plane had crashed into the Twin Towers and that they were on fire. Con Ed said that the city was locked down with no subway or train service and that all the bridges were closed. They advised us to sit tight until further notice.

Needless to say, the conference was over.

We were in a windowless auditorium on the 19th floor but managed to find a south-facing window at the end of a narrow hall. My first glimpse of the situation showed the north tower on fire backgrounded by a huge cloud of smoke and dust. No south tower. I felt sickened. I left for a few minutes and when I returned, the north tower was gone. The scene was almost surreal with the city framed by bright blue sky but blotted with the grayish white smoke and dust plume drifting off to the southeast

At about noon the local city dwellers began to drift off but we out-of-towners waited for some word on transportation and exit routes. My office had paged me earlier to see if I was OK and I was able to use my cell phone to reply affirmatively. I asked them to keep me informed of the transportation situation as we were getting no news in the auditorium. Pagers worked but cell phones gave busy or no signals most of the time.

Around 1 pm I heard that the Long Island Railroad had announced that train service out of the city would be resuming but with no schedule. I decided to walk back up to Penn Station on the chance that the trains would begin running. Since some bridges were reported open to foot traffic, my backup plan was to walk to the 59th Street Bridge and cross there to reach one of my company's facilities in Queens.

The walk uptown was uneventful. There was virtually no vehicular traffic but lots of walkers as it seemed that everyone was let out early. No panic and every one seemed unususually courteous (for New Yorkers), but many people were stunned and awestruck as they first came around a corner and were able to look down an avenue and see the huge smoke plume.

I was able to get on one of the first trains out. There was no schedule, but the LIRR had everything pretty well organized with plenty of staff to direct people to the right trains. They packed them up and sent them on their way as soon as they were full. The ride was amazingly silent.

As I write this, I just learned that one of my son's friends, who I knew from their days playing together on a traveling soccer team, has not been heard from. He worked on the 102nd floor of the north tower, which was the first to be hit.
Chris Gross '64

Yesterday morning, I was in the office at about 8:30 am. My office is in midtown, about 2-3 miles from the World Trade Center. At the time of the first crash, I was on the phone with a broker, who, in turn, was receiving television and internet broadcasts and informing me of what was going on during our conversation. We ended our call before the second plane hit. I then went to an internal meeting.

Since at that time those of us in the meeting only knew about the first plane, it was not yet clear whether it was a tragic accident or a terrorist attack, but of course we all suspected the latter.

The meeting lasted until about 10:15. At that point, we all knew that the crashes were part of a terrorist attack. Our office building was not evacuated, but many others were, so we all decided to leave.
My wife Veronica and I, walked home. (We work together here at Dewey Ballantine, and our apartment is about a 15 minute walk away.) There were more people than usual on the streets because apparently everyone had left work, but at least in midtown there was no panic or hysteria. Everyone was walking in an orderly manner.

We stopped by the grocery store on the way home. Since Manhattan is an island (which many people tend to forget) we knew that if the bridges and tunnels are closed, there would be no way for food to be brought into the city. The store was crowded, but again very orderly.
Once we got home we got something to eat because both of us wanted to give blood and neither of us had eaten yet. We quickly went to give blood but we were turned away. There were already more donors than the medical staff could handle. We were asked to come back today.
We spent the rest of the day trying to locate friends. Later that night, my friend and Wabash classmate A.J. Lindeman [‘91] came over for dinner, and we watched the events unfold. I will be leaving the office soon, and my wife and I are going to try to give blood again.

John M. Olivieri ‘91


As I sit down to write about this, the wind has changed directions and now for the first time can I actually smell and taste the destruction. It's almost as if this bit of randomness in the wind serves as another reminder that we cannot always control our thoughts or actions.
Nonetheless, some 30-odd hours later I think I can put the events into the right order, with some perspective.

I work on a trading floor for an investment bank in Times Square and was at work as usual before 8am yesterday morning. The trading floor is not the stock-exchange open outcry type, rather the telephone and computer screen jumble one sees on CNN.

I was fresh from a two week vacation, and had just flown back to Newark on Saturday night with a twilight view of the lower Manhattan skyline, looking at the twin towers as I always do in that situation and marvel how they changed the skyline forever, defining the tip of the island with and exclamation point.
By 8:45 I was talking to a colleague when there was commotion on the floor -- for a split second I was thinking 'what economic number has come out?', but basically instantly realized the murmur wasn't like that and ran to a TV. We found out quickly that it was a plane, and had time to have the conversation that we felt guilty that it was a good thing, in a way, for it to have been a plane, since that implied it was an accident. Not liking to stare at TV news faster than information was available, I tried to walk around a bit, stopped to check email, going through the motions of trying to think about work. Looking today, I found a timestamp of one command I put into the computer was 8:59am.

When the second plane hit, there were shrieks and pained faces all about. Fairly quickly we knew that there would be no more trading that day, and I was trying to determine what we needed to do to lock down the trading system so we could go home. About that time, one of my colleagues heard from his wife who worked on a high floor of one of the towers that they stopped her train 2 stops from Manhattan and that she was ok. Most things could be done from home computers if necessary.

We decided to regroup in an office in another building, on the 34th floor of a building on 6th Ave. With a straight shot downtown, I caught my first first-hand view of the damage. We've all seen the pictures: there's nothing more I can say as far as my reaction went. We started a rushed meeting, but when the first tower fell and I saw the rising dust and smoke, I offered my apartment to my commuting colleages, and we left. Walked directly uptown, through Central Park as much as we could. One of us had a radio, and the second tower collapsed when we were at 72nd Street.

I spent a couple of hours at the apartment decompressing and absorbing, with only some conversation. And of course making phone calls. The phones basically worked.

At 12:30, with some guilt for being hungry, we tried to distill
the latest facts from the TV and went around the corner to a deli for lunch. The pedestrian traffic was one-way, streaming up
Broadway. 80th street was far enough uptown that we did not see any of the 'walking wounded' but certainly it told the story clearly enough.
We soon heard the figher jets screaming across the sky—very distinct from the commercial traffic that normally takes a big right turn to follow Central Park North to LaGuardia.

By 4 pm, numbed enough to watch more TV, my colleagues had decided to head to Grand Central Station in order to catch commuter trains home.

They did and made it home not too late. I walked the dog down on the Hudson River promenade and out to the pier at 72nd street. Many New Yorkers were out, it was a clear and hot fall day, and the attitude was more relaxed than tense, though certainly subdued. There were a few amateur strategists and analysts, but most talk was about loved ones and personal experiences.

Finally, my friends John and Veronica Olivieri, invited me over for dinner. I have to thank them for that, as I didn't want to sit home in alone in my own thoughts on that night.

A.J. Lindeman ’91

At 2 a.m. I was on my way through the rain to pick up supplies in the AMEX building, which among other things was being used as a transfer station for the bodies and parts of bodies we had recovered from the site. From there, they were packed onto trucks to be taken to the morgue at Bellevue Hospital. As I entered the atrium of the building I saw scores of workers holding their hard hats over their chests. Fifty yards away a dozen firefighters proceeded slowly in my direction carrying a body bag. I removed my hard hat and stepped to the side. As they approached, I could read their red, swollen eyes. Their uniforms were dark with mud and soot. Raindrops dripped from everyone’s gear. A priest wearing a raincoat, a hard hat, goggles, a respirator, and a headlamp came forward with a book and oils. The men carrying their fallen friend cried quietly as the priest rolled back the bag and anointed the body, administering Last Rites. In the atrium, heads bowed and no one moved. I don’t remember how long we stood there, but time seemed to stop as profane space became as sacred as a shrine. Eventually, the priest stepped away, and the firemen walked slowly forward, out the doors and into the truck waiting outside. Without a word, we went back out into the dark rain to work.
Vince Druding ’97, volunteer rescue worker at World Trade Center, from his essay "Ground Zero: A Journal," First Things, November 2001


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