Remembering Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001

Patrick Newell

We’re two days removed from the 12th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, and I retraced my steps to that Tuesday morning – a unremarkable start to my day in every way until all hell broke loose.
Coming off a Monday night of sports, I had my usual array of soccer games to report; moreover, Tuesdays during the fall we publish our weekly football contest, and I typically spent a few hours on Monday evening going through all of the entries, writing up a small article with the results of the contest, and then typing in the picks for our experts to appear in the Tuesday edition. I can’t remember exactly, but I believe we had moved to a two-section paper in 2001, and my deadline to finish the sports section was 8 a.m. Prior to that, I had the same deadline as the front section — 10 a.m. With this new schedule, I would arrive for work in the 6:30 a.m. range (I have picked up a little speed, and now it’s around 6:40 a.m.), to design my three pages for the sports section integrating national news, local news, and complementing that with a standings and statistics page. Following my deadline, I would catch up on paperwork, and go through my schedule for the upcoming evening. Considering I was to return to work around 4 p.m. for a long evening of attending and reporting games, it was my norm to exit the Sun’s premises before 9 a.m. Moments before I was about to leave, word came of a commuter jet striking the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Our publisher, Dick Snyder – whose office was located down the hall from us in the Pennysaver building here in Norwich – stepped into our office to notify our staff of the plane crash. I was off of my deadline, so I (and a few other employees), trekked to Dick’s office for more information. I believe Jeff Genung, our editor, even left his desk for a few moments to take a look at the news on Dick’s television. Rumors were rampant regarding the source of the attack, and as TV reporters were trying to make some sense of it all – and as the burning North Tower was on screen – what looked like a toy airplane crashed into the South Tower. My own speculation after the first plane hit the North Tower was that it was a flight gone awry.. After the second crash, all of us in Dick’s room knew something was terribly wrong. Little did we know how wrong. Three daily papers serve part or all of the Chenango County area, and ours was the only one to have up-to-date reporting of the 9/11 attacks. Such is the benefit of a late-morning/early afternoon newspaper. Watching the tragedy unfold before my eyes – and millions of others – I wonder if this is what TV viewers felt when they saw Jack Ruby step out of a crowd and shoot Lee Harvey Oswald as Oswald was being transported to another jail.

While I was already entrenched in the newspaper business in 2001, our three current reporters were still in school, while current editor Brian Golden was in early 20s and at least seven or eight years away from his first newspaper job. Here are the remembrances of the current staff:

Ashley Biviano: “I was in 8th grade. It happened during math class, but they never told us. I went to English class, and still not a word until the bell rang, when the teacher said, “Oh, the Twin Towers fell down.” In the cafeteria, one kid was running around yelling how someone was going to bomb the school. Then, in Mr. Telesky’s class, we finally got to turn on the TV to see what the heck everyone was talking about. Mr. Telesky was awesome.”

Shawn Magrath: “I was in 10th grade. I watched the second plane strike the South Tower exactly as I walked into my second period Earth Science class.”

Kevin Doonan: “I was in seventh grade Spanish class, in my middle school at Chambers and West Street in Manhattan. I remember the white rain choking the air, the confusion, and the terror. More than anything I remember the quiet calm between explosions and the placid certainty of death.”

Brian Golden (Note- this is an excerpt of a column Brian published regarding the attack): “I remember sitting in the living room of my apartment, drinking coffee, reading a book (probably Tolkien), and waiting for a typical day of carpet installation … power stretchers, staple guns, seam irons, stair tools and tackstrips included.
Hearing my phone ring shortly before 9 a.m. was certainly no warning, in and of itself. Knowing full well it would be either my father (on his way to pick me up for work) or Adam (Bosworth, we typically spoke mornings to discuss all things related to our band), I was completely unprepared for what followed. I received a call from Adam, who had a strange strange note of hysteria in his voice I’d never heard before, immediately related the news that – just moments before – a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Having no cable at the time, I immediately flicked on the radio, just in time to hear, in a strange sort of terrible harmony, Adam and whatever newscaster was on the air at the time begin screaming “NO” and for a pilot unseen to turn the plane. And that’s when United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower. I remember spending the rest of that day in a kind of haze.”
What are your memories of that day? Feel free to share with us.

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