Re-Launch: September 11: Where Where You?

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
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This was originally posted on September 11, 2004.  I’ve made a few edits to bring things into today’s situation, added a final thought.  

Ten years ago today.

I was getting ready for work. It was just another Tuesday morning. I was dating my ex at the time, and he had already left for work, so I was going about my usual routine. I showered, got dressed, and had some breakfast. Everything about that morning was par for the course.

Except that I turned the TV on.

You see, I was and still am not a TV-in-the-morning type of person. I rarely ever catch the Today show or Good Morning America, unless I’m home sick or on vacation, and even then it’s rare. So my turning on the TV while getting ready for work that morning was very random.

I turned on Good Morning America. Diane Sawyer was talking to some family about some wonderful thing that had happened and they were all smiles, feeling happy and good about whatever it was they were talking about. I don’t remember. I just remember thinking “Typical morning-show sappy stuff,” and kept going about my business.

They broke for commercial, showed one commercial, and then came back, abruptly.

There were Diane and Charles Gibson, sitting in another room. They looked very serious.

“We have something to show you. We don’t know very much about this, but there is something major going on at the World Trade Center…”

And they showed the tower. Ablaze. A huge gash cut out of it. My mouth dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

It was approximately 8:50AM, Central time. The first plane had hit at about 8:45AM.

As I watched in amazement, the commentators tried to describe what had been happening up until then. It was believed that it was a plane, but nobody was sure how big of a plane it had been. As far as anyone knew, there was no footage of it, and it had happened so fast that not many people saw it. But now our eyes were glued. Our attention was focused. And at three minutes after 9:00, our lives changed forever.

I watched the second plane fly into the second tower. In real time. As it happened.

I never felt such fear in my entire life. For some reason, I knew right away that we were under attack. I knew that nobody at that moment was safe. If whoever did this could plan it so that two separate planes could fly into the two towers of the World Trade Center on the same day, just minutes between each other, then they were capable of anything.

“Oh my GOD… Oh my GOD…” said the voices on TV.

I called my roommate in to see what was going on. He was supposed to be flying to New York that week.

“Uh… I don’t think you’re going to New York,” I told him.

Oddly enough, the first name that popped into my mind was Osama bin Laden.

Just weeks before this, reports had been coming out of Afghanistan about centuries-old relics being destroyed by bin Laden’s Taliban regime. They were denouncing all capitalist countries, especially America. They were predicting jihad on America.

I watched intently, thinking that this could get really ugly. bin Laden’s name was familiar, also, because he was named as the person of blame in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

They seemed determined to destroy those towers. And when that second plane hit, I thought to myself “They finally did it.”

I didn’t know quite what to do at that point. I called my ex, who was on a train heading downtown, and told him what was going on. He said that people had been getting phone calls left and right but he couldn’t figure out what was going on. I told him I was going in to work. I didn’t know what else to do.

So I left.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside. The air was cool, and the sun was warm. Fall had not quite set in on the region yet. It was a beautiful late summer day.

But the air was incredibly still. It was eerie. I kept running what I had seen on the television just moments before in my head, over and over. “We are under attack,” I told myself, “and I am going to work. Am I nuts?”

The train ride to work was even worse. People who knew each other were talking extremely softly to each other. Some were on their cell phones. Others just stared out the window. I was like a funeral. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I did. What do you do in this situation? What do you say?

I got off the train and walked the rest of the way to work. Over to the north is the Hancock Building. To the east, the AON Tower. To the south, Sears Tower. I watched the skies feverishly, hoping to God that nothing was coming. I paid special observation to the AON Tower, and noticed how much it reminded me of the World Trade Center. I started to cry.

I got to work and started my ascent, 38 floors up. Silence in the elevator.

When I got to my floor, everyone was milling about. Some were crying, some were talking. Nobody was working. Everyone was in a panic. “Why are we here? What is going on? The Internet is down. We can’t find anything out!”

I told them that I had watched it happen on TV. A couple ladies were a bit hysterical.

I called my mom and dad to get updates. Tower 1 had collapsed by then. My mom begged me to go home. “I don’t want you downtown with all of this going on. Get out of there.”

“This will not work. We won’t be here long,” I thought.

Sure enough, at 10:30 the announcement came that we were to go home. I grabbed my things and got out, fast.

The train ride back was even more morose than the ride in.  People seemed stunned into silence.  When the train came out of the subway, I remember glancing back toward downtown in case of any further activity.  Before I knew it, I was home again.

My ex and I watched TV from the time I got home until 2 in the morning. I saw the towers fall so many times that I could see it with my eyes closed. I saw the Pentagon, the military center of the United States, in flames and rubble. I saw the aftermath of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, and wondered which target it was truly heading for. I repeatedly saw the video of people running as fast as they could after the enormous plumes of dust and paper and glass racing behind them. And I saw the war-zone-like aftermath, with bloodied, dirtied, and barely alive people, wandering aimlessly as they try to figure out for themselves how they got there–how this happened to them and to their city. I saw the streets lined and littered with destroyed fire trucks and automobiles; glass blown out of buildings still standing, trees and traffic lights, bent and broken and twisted, and papers.. the papers… everywhere you looked were papers.

September 11, 2001 was just like any other day when it started.

September 11, 2001 was a day that I will never forget for the rest of my life by the time it ended.

Final thought

Every year on the anniversary of the attacks, I relive these moments.  As I read through them just now, I remember every moment of that day as if it happened just hours ago.

At this very moment, it’s 11:44am.  Ten years ago at this very moment, I was probably walking back to my apartment from the train station.  I remember, as I mentioned in the initial article, how still and peaceful the day was.  I remember thinking that maybe it was because there were no planes flying overhead.  All air travel was suspended that day.  So between the glorious, warm sunshine and the cool breezes, it felt otherworldly to be outdoors that day.

“Never forget,” we say every year at this time.  I never forget, anytime.  It’s hard not to remember.

I didn’t lose anyone close to me that day.  In fact, I don’t know anyone who perished that day at all.  But everyone lost something that day.  And in some ways, we still haven’t found it again.  I don’t know that we ever will.

My Top 10 Classic 1970’s Commercials

As I grow ever nearer to my 40th birthday (less than a month away!) I decided it’s time to start taking a little trip down memory road and bring back some things I remember from my childhood.

To start, I have assembled my Top 10 most memorable 1970’s commercials.  Growing up as a child of the 1970’s, I was glued to the TV more often than not.  So many of these commercials are just as memorable to me today as they were then.

Here we go!

10. Chiffon Margarine – “It’s Not Nice To Fool Mother Nature”

Oh how I loved this one.  Something about it just stuck with me for years afterward.  Maybe it was the way she said the commercial’s tagline, or maybe it was the thunder and lightning.  Either way, I once in a while will still use this line.  This is the only one I can find on YouTube— but I know many others were made.

9. Trix – Trix Ahoy!

I used to always feel so sorry for the Trix Rabbit.  Why were Trix just for kids anyway?  After all, grown-ups could eat Trix if they wanted to– why couldn’t the rabbit?  Anyway, his misadventures with trying to access Trix cereal were best in the 1970’s– when there were only three flavors: Raspberry Red, Lemon Yellow and Orange Orange.  Of course, they always tasted the same to me.

8. Slinky – “It’s Slinky!”

I think I went through at least 5 Slinkies in my lifetime.  I always tried to get them to go down stairs but for some reason I never could do it successfully.  That never stopped me from trying, obviously.  I went through so many of them because I’d eventually get them all tangled and bent out of shape so they didn’t work anymore.  I never got one of those plastic ones– I always wanted a shiny new metal one.  Oddly enough, I STILL have the last Slinky I ever bought.  It’s got to be over 25 years old by now, and it’s still in perfect condition.

7. Life Cereal – “He Likes It!  Hey Mikey!”

This one had major lasting power, running well into the 1980’s and possibly even the early 1990’s.  It even had a resurgence when they found the original Mikey (who did not die from a mixture of pop rocks and Coke, as was greatly rumored) and brought him back for an update of the commercial in the 1980’s.

6. Oscar Mayer – “My Bologna Has A First Name”

I was just singing this to myself at the grocery store at the other day, when I was standing in a VERY long line waiting to be checked out.  Next to me was the lunch meat, and a ton of Oscar Mayer Bologna.  I haven’t eaten the stuff in years (the though sickens me– I ate enough of it as a kid, and frankly I never liked it then!), but the song has never left my brain.  If it has left yours, see how quickly you’ll recall it by clicking below.

5. Toys R Us – “Christmas Commercial”

This one makes me warm and fuzzy inside every single time I hear the song.  I remember KNOWING that Christmas was coming as soon as I heard this song play.  I don’t know why, but it really affected me as a kid– and still does today.

4. Tootsie Roll – “How Many Licks?

Another one that ran for YEARS, this one probably was viewed by me and my sister more times than any other.  To this day, when I count to three, I say “One… Two-WHOOOO! Three!”  As a bonus, I’m including the FULL version, where the boy asks a cow and a fox in addition to the turtle and the owl.  The classic, long-running version just includes the turtle and the owl.

Original, extended version

Classic, shortened version

3. Coca Cola – “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing

What classic 1970’s list would be complete without this commercial?  Even as a kid, I knew what a great commercial it was– if only for the song itself.  I remember singing the complete, revised song in grade school around 4th grade or so.  Of course, that was in the 1980’s, but that just goes to show the lasting power the commercial had.  This one also ran for many years– and still makes reappearances now and then.  It’s considered one of the greatest TV commercials of all-time.

2. Calgon Water Softener – “Ancient Chinese Secret

OK, I know that by today’s standards this commercial is TOTALLY un-PC.  But any kid in the 1970’s knew the line “Ancient Chinese Secret, HUH?”  Regardless of the message it portrays, it is a classic 1970’s commercial which ran for YEARS (well into the 1980’s, in fact).  So it definitely belongs here!

Interesting to note: There were two different versions of the commercial.  The original version had Mrs. Lee calling Calgon “New Improved Calgon,” while the subsequent versions just said, “Calgon.”

1. Tootsie Roll – “Whatever It Is I Think I See Becomes A Tootsie Roll To Me”

Chicago-based Tootsie Roll gets two entries in my Top 10 list.  Both commercials had enormous lasting power (running well over 10 years each), and both were extremely effective because their messages were clear, clever and simple.  This song is one of those that hurtles me back 35 years or so and plants me in front of the TV watching “Bozo’s Circus” or “Ray Rayner” on WGN Channel 9.  I love this one.

September 11, 2001: Where Were You?

Three years ago today.

I was getting ready for work. It was just another Tuesday morning. I was dating my ex at the time, and he had already left for work, so I was going about my usual routine. I showered, got dressed, and had some breakfast. Everything about that morning was par for the course.

Except that I turned the TV on.

You see, I was and still am not a TV-in-the-morning type of person. I rarely ever catch the Today show or Good Morning America, unless I’m home sick or on vacation. So my turning on the TV while getting ready for work that morning was very random.

I turned on Good Morning America. Diane Sawyer was talking to some family about some wonderful thing that had happened and they were all smiles, feeling happy and good about whatever it was they were talking about. I don’t remember. I just remember thinking “Typical morning-show sappy stuff,” and kept going about my business.

They broke for commercial, showed one commercial, and then came back, abruptly.

There were Diane and Charles Gibson, sitting in another room. They looked very serious.

“We have something to show you. We don’t know very much about this, but there is something major going on at the World Trade Center…”

And they showed the tower. Ablaze. A huge gash cut out of it. My mouth dropped. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

It was approximately 8:50AM, Central time. The first plane had hit at about 8:45AM.

As I watched in amazement, the commentators tried to describe what had been happening up until then. It was believed that it was a plane, but nobody was sure how big of a plane it had been. As far as anyone knew, there was no footage of it, and it had happened so fast that not many people saw it. But now our eyes were glued. Our attention was focused. And at three minutes after 9:00, our lives changed forever.

I watched the second plane fly into the second tower. In real time. As it happened.

I never felt such fear in my entire life. For some reason, I knew right away that we were under attack. I knew that nobody at that moment was safe. If whoever did this could plan it so that two separate planes could fly into the two towers of the World Trade Center on the same day, just minutes between each other, then they were capable of anything.

“Oh my GOD… Oh my GOD…” said the voices on TV.

I called my roommate in to see what was going on. He was supposed to be flying to New York that week.

“Uh… I don’t think you’re going to New York,” I told him.

Oddly enough, the first name that popped into my mind was Osama bin Laden.

Just weeks before this, reports had been coming out of Afghanistan about centuries-old relics being destroyed by bin Laden’s Taliban regime. They were denouncing all capitalist countries, especially America. They were predicting jihad on America.

I watched intently, thinking that this could get really ugly. bin Laden’s name was familiar, also, because he was named as the person of blame in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

They seemed determined to destroy those towers. And when that second plane hit, I thought to myself “They finally did it.”

I didn’t know quite what to do at that point. I called my ex, who was on a train heading downtown, and told him what was going on. He said that people had been getting phone calls left and right but he couldn’t figure out what was going on. I told him I was going in to work. I didn’t know what else to do.

So I left.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside. The air was cool, and the sun was warm. Fall had not quite set in on the region yet. It was a beautiful late summer day.

But the air was incredibly still. It was eerie. I kept running what I had seen on the television just moments before in my head, over and over. “We are under attack,” I told myself, “and I am going to work. Am I nuts?”

The train ride to work was even worse. People who knew each other were talking extremely softly to each other. Some were on their cell phones. Others just stared out the window. I was like a funeral. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt the way I did. What do you do in this situation? What do you say?

I got off the train and walked the rest of the way to work. Over to the north is the Hancock Building. To the east, the AON Tower. To the south, Sears Tower. I watched the skies feverishly, hoping to God that nothing was coming. I paid special observation to the AON Tower, and noticed how much it reminded me of the World Trade Center. I started to cry.

I got to work and started my ascent, 38 floors up. Silence in the elevator.

When I got to my floor, everyone was milling about. Some were crying, some were talking. Nobody was working. Everyone was in a panic. “Why are we here? What is going on? The Internet is down. We can’t find anything out!”

I told them that I had watched it happen on TV. A couple ladies were a bit hysterical.

I called my mom and dad to get updates. Tower 1 had collapsed by then. My mom begged me to go home. “I don’t want you downtown with all of this going on. Get out of there.”

“This will not work. We won’t be here long,” I thought.

Sure enough, at 10:30 the announcement came that we were to go home. I grabbed my things and got out, fast.

Another morose train ride, glancing back toward downtown in case of any further activity, and I was home again.

My ex and I watched TV from the time I got home until 2 in the morning. I saw the towers fall so many times that I could see it with my eyes closed. I saw the Pentagon, the military center of the United States, in flames and rubble. I saw the aftermath of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, and wondered which target it was truly heading for. I repeatedly saw the video of people running as fast as they could after the enormous plumes of dust and paper and glass racing behind them. And I saw the war-zone-like aftermath, with bloodied, dirtied, and barely alive people, wandering aimlessly as they try to figure out for themselves how they got there–how this happened to them and to their city. I saw the streets lined and littered with destroyed fire trucks and automobiles; glass blown out of buildings still standing, trees and traffic lights, bent and broken and twisted, and papers.. the papers… everywhere you looked were papers.

September 11, 2001 was just like any other day when it started.

September 11, 2001 was a day that I will never forget for the rest of my life by the time it ended.