September 5, 2011 in News, Features Inland Northwest readers remember WTC visits Print Email Share When you glimpse the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in pre-Sept. 11 movies or television shows, it still shocks. Visitors from all over the world, including the Inland Northwest, visited or once lived near the Twin Towers. Here, they reflect on that, 10 years after the towers fell down.(Editor’s note: We received more than 25 stories and those will all be added here by Sept. 11. Readers who sent in both photos and stories will find those in our picture story about the Twin Towers). Joanne Pos Cottrell, SandpointI was raised in Ridgewood New Jersey, and was lucky to take field trips to New York City frequently throughout my school years. In 1972 my high school social studies teacher took us on a different type of field trip to New York City. We left home at night, and drove to New York, about 40 minutes away over the river. We were just a small group of students, and out teacher drove us throughout the City, showing us its underbelly. We saw the lights, the people, and even got to eat an automated meal at Horn and Hardart.But what I remember the most is the end of the trip. Our teacher parked right next to the Twin Towers, and we watched the sun rise and gleam on the mirrored buildings. The glow rose and rose, higher and higher until the two towers were bathed in sunlight. That sight has been burned into memory after all these years. When the towers fell in 2001, I knew the massive loss, I knew the area, I knew people who worked in the buildings. When my sister and I walked in downtown New York a few years after the attack it was an odd feeling, because there was sunlight in the business district. Those towers had been so large, they had blocked out the sun for years.Eric and Angela Roth, Nine Mile FallsMy wife, Angela, and I visited the Twin Towers for the first and only time on May 26, 2000. It was the last day of our first and only visit to New York—a week-long sightseeing trip we’d booked on a whim, always having wanted to see the city. It’s embarrassing to admit, but we almost skipped the towers. Having already visited the Empire State Building, we’d seen one tall landmark and could muster little desire to see another. But by the end of the week, having checked off everything else on our NYC bucket list, we decided to finish our trip at the World Trade Center.We’ll never regret that decision. The Empire State Building stood tall and majestic, but the Towers were just cool. To this day, we can’t recall seeing any building that matches the enormous scale of just one of the towers. The high-speed elevator rocketed up 107 stories in less than a minute. We leaned our heads against the floor-to-ceiling windows, looking out at the bright blue sky, the miles of city visible on that clear day, and the tiny people 1,300 feet below. We ascended to the roof of the South Tower and took panoramic photos of the city. My stomach clutched whenever I got too close to the roof’s edge. (Angela was fine; heights don’t bother her.) It was as perfect a day as we’d had that week, and the most impressive stop of our trip. We left New York the next day.We would later read that, about a week after we left New York, Mohamed Atta arrived there to prepare for another clear, beautiful day 16 months later.That morning, I stopped by my office before 7 a.m. to tie up a few loose ends before my scheduled flight to Seattle, where I would attend a three-day class. As I sat at my computer, Angela called with the terrible news of a plane hitting the North Tower. Awful, but probably some freak accident, I thought, and set back to work. But in a rapid succession of three more calls, Angela gave me a play-by-play of the unfolding horror—the second plane, the towers’ collapse, and the grounding of air traffic. I wouldn’t be flying anywhere after all. Still, I didn’t yet fathom the significance of the day.Since my Seattle class didn’t start until afternoon, I decided to drive. On my car radio, reporters with little information struggled to describe the scope of the attack. Over that four-hour drive, it gradually sunk in: Those towers that so impressed us—along with however many tens of thousands might have been inside on a Tuesday morning—were gone. Just gone. That thought haunted me at random moments over the next three days, as my class in Seattle (incredibly, not canceled) went on as scheduled. Evenings in my hotel room, I watched the news and talked to Angela by phone. I’m not sure either of us had quite gotten our heads around it yet. I know I hadn’t. I felt lost in some bad dream, and I wanted to go home.I drove home the evening of September 13. Darkness had fallen when I reached Spokane. Before driving to my house, I stopped at Pizza Hut. There I first noticed the clerks at the counter wearing red, white, and blue-striped ribbons pinned to their shirts. The place pulsed with a sense of unity I can’t quite describe (yes, Pizza Hut). In the wake of a national nightmare, everyone in the restaurant seemed happier, friendlier, more patient, and more polite than normal. I knew no one there, yet I felt like I’d just walked into a family reunion. And no one mentioned the attacks. No one had to. When I got home, Angela raced to me and gave me one of the tightest hugs I can remember. I hugged her right back. Even without tears, I sensed the overwhelming sadness we shared, even two days later, even without personally knowing anyone who perished on 9/11. For just those few seconds, I felt safe again. It wouldn’t last, and weeks and months would pass before the images of the burning towers stopped haunting my waking thoughts. But for that moment, back home with my beloved wife, the horror went away for a little while. That was one of the best hugs I ever got.Art Anderson, Mullan, IdahoBack in the early 80’s, my family and I went on vacation, which included New York City. We did all the tourist stuff – Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Coney Island, Empire State building and the World Trade Center.The top of one of the towers had an open-air viewing catwalk all around, about 10 or 15 feet or so above the actual roof. My daughter, Stacey was about 12. She was wearing some kind of sandal. Somehow along her walk, one of her sandals came off and, to her horror, clattered down from the catwalk to the roof below.The roof was off limits. I spotted a young New York City policeman standing nearby. He’d seen what had happened and had an amused grin on his face. He graciously let himself through a gate to below, retrieved her sandal and brought it back to her. She was relieved and the crowd all around gave her and the policeman a round of applause. She was so embarrassed, but glad to get her shoe back.Doyle Cook, SpokaneAs a new financial adviser, I was sent to New York City in late August 2001 for three weeks of financial advisory training. I stayed at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and attended training classes 5 days a week from 7:30 a.m. until anywhere from 5 to 8 p.m.Our classes were on the 61st floor of one of the twin towers. I really was impressed by the size of the tower. There was a mall underneath it along with a subway terminal. I rode the subway back to the hotel each day after class. One day, some classmates and I went over to the other Twin Tower. We went to Windows of the World restaurant on the 101st floor-what a view!One day we took the ferry from Battery Park that took us fairly close to the Statue of Liberty. As we started our return to Battery Park, I could see in the distance the majestic twin towers-signals of the financial capital of the world. They were so impressive. MY training classes ended Thursday evening, September 6th (my twin daughter’s birthdays).This was the last time I saw the twin towers. As I rode the subway back to my hotel, I thought how impressed I was in seeing and being in those giant structures. I remembered going each day at lunch to visit the many vendors who set up daily in the huge courtyard area between the Twin Towers. The next morning several of us caught a cab to LaGuardia airport to catch our flights back home.I thought about the 270 financial advisers from every state from Alaska to Florida that spent those fascinating 3 weeks in New York and on the 61st floor of one of the twin tower training rooms.I was told our company had more employees in the Twin Towers than any other company (3,600 I believe).My first day back at work was Monday, Sept. 10. The next morning while eating breakfast and watching TV, I saw a shocking picture of an airplane crashing into one of the twin towers. A few minutes later, another airplane crashed into the other twin tower. I could not believe it. Both towers came down. I couldn’t believe that I had been in one of those towers five days ago!I drove to work in a state of shock. Advisers in the office were in a state of shock. I called a few classmates, and they too were awestruck by this horrific event. I found out that a new training class was on the 61st floor on Sept. 11, 2001 but when the first plane struck the first tower, the company security chief evacuated the entire class from the second tower.They got out before the second airplane hit their building. Unfortunately, the security chief in continued efforts to evacuate other people, lost his life that day. I’m still devastated to this day by the evil actions that occurred on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Several thousand innocent people died that day, and our country and our world will never be the same.Kevin Jones, SpokaneI worked as an instructor/counselor at a youth tennis camp in Boston during my college years in the mid-80’s. One weekend a group of us piled into a car and headed to NYC. It was the first visit to “The City” for all of us.We were up all night seeing the sights, bar hopping, people watching. We ended up in lower Manhattan, so we walked over to the Twin Towers. I still remember their immensity and bulk as we lay on our back in the plaza between the two of them.As the sun came up, it touched the tops of the towers and it seemed like they stretched up to the heavens. To a young adult who grew up in a small town in Oregon, I was in awe that man could build such towering structures.Donna Stroud, SpokaneI was about 9 or 10 years old and visited the Twin Towers with my family, maybe 1981 or 1982. My parents (South Korean immigrants) paid for a nylon sparkly iron-on cloth calendar with a photo of us three children at the top, Twin Towers behind our heads.Even after my parents’ divorce in 1993, my mother kept that calendar. She used to hang it on the wall of her Virginia apartment even after 9/11 happened.Each kid asked her for that calendar post-9/11 but she refused to give it up.In 2008, mom remarried a native New Yorker and moved to the NYC suburbs where he lived. I haven’t visited their home yet but wonder if that calendar is hanging on the wall somewhere in their house.J.E. Hill, Kettle FallsJust after I met my future wife, Janice, who was from New Jersey, she related to me that her father worked at the World Trade Center. When I inquired further, she said, “Oh, he just works at a bank.”I thought that was interesting, but pretty much forgot about it, thinking he was a loan officer, branch manager or something. Months later, her mother and father came out to visit, and while talking to her father, I mentioned the World Trade Center and asked what bank he worked for.Turns out “just a bank” was actually called Fiduciary Trust International which occupied floors 91, 92 and 93 of the WTC.I choked back just a little and became a bit wide-eyed. He was a senior vice president. More choke. Just works at a bank, eh?He would also tell how much he loved working in the towers and the environment of downtown (lower) Manhattan’s financial district.In the ensuing years when we traveled back East, we always planned trips into Manhattan and would visit him at the WTC.From his office, after two ear-numbing elevator rides, one had the most wonderful view of the harbor, from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty, Verrazano Bridge, and beyond. My father-in-law died in 1999 and fortunately never knew what happened to his beloved workplace; several of his co-workers weren’t so lucky.Helen Skindlov, Spokane ValleyMy daughter was working at a camp in upstate New York the summer of 1999. Following her work experience, we toured the Lake Placid area and then planned to drive into New York City. After a few wrong turns and a drive back over the Brooklyn Bridge, we parked our car close to the Downtown Athletic Center where we were staying.Our itinerary included a ferry ride to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, a Broadway show, and of course, an exhilarating elevator ride up the World Trade Center. We bought our supper in an underground shopping mall, after walking only a few blocks north of where we were staying. Eating our lunch on the park benches with the gigantic towers behind us, we took a few photos. Evening was coming on. It was a clear calm night, with the flashing lights of the city, the bridges, and the cars below and the twinkling lights of the stars above.Up, up we went, past the gift shop and out into the night’s open air. What a view! Breathtaking and awesome! We could see in all directions, identifying important landmarks. I had put in a panoramic film, so the photos I was taking were wide-angle. After an hour of walking “on top of the world,” along with a few other brave souls, we descended. What a night to remember!Keith D. Herdman, SpokaneIn the mid-1980s, while on a seasonal buying trip to New York City, I experienced the totally unexpected. My traveling companion was the late Robert D. Pierone (Bob). We were both seasoned to the city, so we knew our way around.After a busy day in the market, cocktails and dinner were the norm, after which entertainment was in order. The evening darkness penetrated by lighting revealed these two massive structures against the night sky.Upon entering the North Tower, noted for the “Windows of the World” destination, we found we were properly dressed for the occasion. Coat and tie were required before boarding the elevators to the 100th story. The elevator was large enough for a standard-size automobile. I had a preconceived idea of what to expect. Maybe an observation area, like a library. Nada!As we stepped from the elevator we noted the interior was like a moonscape — very large stone boulders leading into a large cocktail lounge. This was all trumped by the melodious jazz coming from the bar. Wow!The windows gave the total view of Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty looked just a handshake away. A sight to behold, but never to be seen by me again.Bonnie Ray, SpokaneMy memory of the World Trade Center isn’t very exciting, but it’s meaningful to me and I’ve held it in my heart all these years. Here goes:In the early ‘90s, I took an East Coast trip to visit my nephew in Boston and my daughter at Quantico, Virginia. It was my first and only train ride and I was excited to see that I’d be changing trains at Penn Station, with a 45-minute layover. I’d never been to New York City.I didn’t realize how the tracks go underground miles in and miles out of Manhattan. I didn’t see anything. And Penn Station wasn’t the big, beautiful building I thought I’d be seeing.I was very disappointed. When the train got going, I mentioned it to my seatmate — a nice young man with a Jamaican accent. I told him how bummed I was to actually be in New York City and not see anything. He said if I hurried over to the other side of the car I’d get a glimpse of the lower Manhattan skyline. So I did.My bad luck was holding. It was a foggy, smoggy day and I couldn’t see a thing. Then, far in the distance, I saw the Twin Towers jutting up through the gray mist. The train took a big sweeping curve and in a second or two, the view was gone.For years, I’d tell people how I’d been to New York City and all I’d seen was the World Trade Center.Then, Sept. 11 happened. My seconds-long glimpse of the towers was like one of those flashbulb memories that they talk about. It almost seemed comforting.I’ve returned to New York since then and did all the touristy things. But for good or bad, my most vivid memory is still my first visit when all I saw were the iconic towers rising above the clouds.Rae-Ellen Hamilton, Pomeroy Wash., native now living in Parker, Colo.On September 5, 1981 my husband and I were married on Bainbridge Island, WA. We went to NYC on our honeymoon. We spent a glorious week seeing Broadway shows, visiting museums, art galleries, shopping, and flying around the Statue of Liberty in a Helicopter that took off next to the United Nations Building. Not realizing it at the time, we visited the Twin Towers on Friday, September 11, 1981, exactly 20 years before the horrible events on 9/11/01. It was a beautiful, sunny day in New York, just like the day the Towers came down. We rode to the top of the South Tower in an elevator that would hold about 100 people. It reminded us of a cattle car on a train. The ride to the top seemed to take forever. Once we got to the observation floor, we realized the roof-top observation deck was open. How thrilling when we walked out on the top of the world. We could see all the way to the end of Manhattan Island past Central Park and Harlem. It was magnificent. The North Tower was so close it looked like you could jump across. We always knew which tower was which because of those big antennas on the North Tower.Patrick RusnakI arrived at my office in Eureka, California, at the usual early time of 5:45 a.m. PDT on September 11, 2001. I immediately turned on my computer to check the early financial news and email. One new email arrived just after I logged in from Tim Byrne, a bond trader with the firm of Sandler O’Neill & Partners of New York. He had met with me recently in California, and we had been playing phone tag to follow up on an Investment strategy. His email was time a stamped 8:48 am EDT and brief, offering an apology for the protracted phone tag and advising that he would be in the office all day.A few minutes later, I received a phone call from my mother in Pennsylvania. It was a very short conversation. After I hung up the phone I quickly walked down the hall to the board room and turned on the the television to CNN. I sat quitely in the dark watching the chaotic events unfold, startling my boss who entered the building through an exterior door to the boardroom unaccustomed to finding anyone watching TV there. He quickly sat down with me, watching in silence…until a short while later the live coverage captured a plane colliding with the second tower.I jumped out of my chair and ran back to my office, knowing that Tim worked in one of the WTC buildings. His contact info on the email indicated his office was on the 104th floor of the south tower. I dialed his number and got what was the first of many busy signals. I took another look at Tim’s email, noting the time stamp. Walking back to the boardroom, I thought about the other people I knew who worked at Sandler’s WTC office and for the firm of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods which also had its headquarters there. I recalled Tom Theurkauf, the director of equity research at KBW, who only a few months earlier had flown to California at my request to make a presentation at the annual strategic retreat. A sick feeling settled into the pit of my stomach. It was not until a week or so later that I learned that both Tim and Tom were among those missing; eventually they would be officially listed among the nearly 3,000 whose lives were senselessly cut short that day. The Sandler and KWB firms were decimated by the event, losing 83 and 67 employees, respectively. Both of these firms have, like our great country, have overcome the adversity of that tragic day. In the case of Sandler, the firm played an integral role in the recent recapitalizations of both Sterling Financial Corporation and AmericanWest Bank.Molly Saty, NewportThe morning the towers went down, one of my great-nieces had left Logan airport on an early flight, missing the ill fated planes. She was well across the states and able to reach Dallas, Texas as scheduled, beating the turmoil that affected most air travel that day. Her sister, however was not quite as lucky. She was at a new job and had been in New York only a few weeks, working at a location very near the twin towers. Basically a stranger to the area, she was evacuated into the chaos of smoke and debris. Rescued by a stranger she was literally dragged to the river where she crossed to New Jersey and her husband was finally able to reach her. Her parents out West were frantic till phone service finally resumed. By the time I reached them by email both girls were safe. Years before I had visited the Towers and marveled as planes and helicopters flew below the observation deck. Those Towers were so tall! On the way down, for some reason the elevator went on auxiliary power and took forever to reach ground level. Passengers remained cool and sophisticated (after all we were in New York) but when the door did not open on the ground floor and the car bolted upward there was a collective wail. When stopped a few floors up we all rushed off and walked down several floors. I will never forget the relief found in that narrow stairwell. Can only wonder at the relief some 911 survivors must have felt on descending to safely. About seven or eight years ago my two sisters and I visited New York and took pictures of what was at that time “the hole”. The Path subway had been finished and the area was pretty well cleaned up and already showing progress as a construction zone. We also visited the nearby church where people had taken refuge. It is now a museum. We were three elderly sisters saddened by remembering the violence but glad to see rebuilding and healing taking place. So goes so much of history.Mary Faux, SandpointIt was the thrill of my lifetime to visit the Twin Towers in 1986. It was my first visit to New York City. My son was to be married the following day. We held his rehearsal dinner in The Windows on the World on the top floor. Our dinner was magnificent. We were hosted by a beautiful, tall, lovely-looking woman wearing a white pantsuit and a captain’s hat. We had breaded zucchini as one of the appetizers (I had never heard of that.) I cried when the tower was destroyed. Such lovely, fine memories.David Givens, SpokaneI visited the Twin Towers on a book tour in 1983. At the time, CNN was headquartered there on the ground floor of one of the buildings. I asked the newsroom producer if I could grab a breakfast before my interview. She said, “Fine, there’s a restaurant on the top floor. Just give yourself 20 minutes for the elevator ride back down.” So, up I rode, ears popping, to the very top of the Tower.The only food item I could afford was half of one red grapefruit — for$5 (big money back in 1983). I still remember the sweet taste of the chilled, succulent ruby fruit. The view from the restaurant itself, however, was not so memorable. The floor was up so high that everything below looked uninterestingly small, flat, and unimportant. Today, my New York grapefruit is easier to recall than the Tower view of the City itself.Tim Henney, Sandpoint(Editor’s note: Henney worked for years at AT&T’s corporate headquarters in New York City.)The Twin Towers evolved for corporate colleagues and me into a comfortable, important part of our lives. For years, we commuted daily from the New Jersey suburbs on the “tubes” beneath the Hudson River into the seven-story Trade Center basement. The basement into which the two towers collapsed and buried many who perished that day. We downtown corporate worker bees bought Broadway show tickets at the discount outlet in the Trade Center basement. We lunched at countless cafes. And we shopped. (My wife and I still use leather travel bags purchased more than 30 years ago at a luggage store in the basement.) I often attended and hosted corporate dinners at Windows on the World.When the World Trade Center came thundering down, my wife Jacquelynn and I had retired and moved away in 1986. But the town we had lived in — Ridgewood, N.J. — was devastated,A week or so after the Sept. 11 attacks, Jacquelynn and I attended special services at Sandpoint’s First Presbyterian Church. The congregation sang “God Bless America.” I hadn’t cried in decades, but I buckled. Sept. 11 savagely yanked the United States into reality. It happened on my turf. I could not keep from weeping. And I did.Ken and Vicki West, SpokaneIt was a very crisp, mid-April Sunday in 1989. We will never forget it. With exactly one day to spend in NYC, only two very special must-see sites demanded a visit — the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty.Vivid memories of smiling faces, unfamiliar language and that long, winding line held our attention for what seemed forever. When we finally shot up to the 107th floor in a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping 58 seconds, and then another three stories to observation deck, the views, the conversation, the melting pot at the top of the world provided a miraculous sense of culture so foreign to us but so totally captivating that taking it all in without intrusion was nearly unavoidable. In just a couple of hours, our visit that day may very well have been our one and only trip to New York but most assuredly, will live on in our hearts forever!Dusty Niendam, Elmer City, Wash.This was the most exciting event in our long awaited vacation, to be in New York City and have an exciting, entertaining dinner at Windows on the World. At every angle, windows and more windows, surrounded by windows. Envision stars and the evening parade of the Milky Way, what a thrill.Thank you Twin Towers, for we shall always carry in our hearts, soul and mind the secrets of New York City, and the wonderful dinner entertainment.Donna and Chuck Pierce, CheneyIn August 1989, we had a family vacation to New York as well as Washington D.C., and Williamsburg. We were staying with relatives in New Jersey and on our first morning, we took the train into the “CITY” with our first stop being the World Trade Center (Twin Towers). We were told that there can be a long wait later in the morning. So, we got off the train and with good directions got to the the Twin Towers and purchased our tickets and no line. We still have the World Trade Center Observation Deck ticket with the date 080289. The view from the observation was of a hazy morning in New York with the Empire State Building in the background. We have pictures of our boys Christopher and Timothy (ages 15 and 13 at the time) standing by the railing. There is also a picture looking down onto the rooftops of many buildings. We loved the view, the elevator ride and seeing New York from a very different point of view. On Sept. 11, 2001, our son, Timothy was just completing his final day at the AF Survivial School at Fairchild AFB. Now a Major, he is currently an instructor for navigators on B-52s and one of his deployments was to fly bombing missions over Afganistan.Doreen Seal, Spokane ValleyI am a retired nurse. I lived in NYC for 14 years and it was on 9-11 that I decided to come home to friends and family. I left NY on 9-9. It was always fun to go down the Hudson River Highway and see the towers. I did not know this would be the last time to see them standing full.I went to the city a month after 9-11. There was a black iron fence a block from the towers. Everyone was leaving notes, flowers, T-shirts. No one talked. I remember one note that said: “I overslept and I miss my friends.”Darla Morris, SpokaneMy husband, Wally Morris, our cat, Tabby, and I traveled across the country in our motor home in April and May 2001. We stayed at an RV park in New Jersey and our view was one of the Statue of Liberty with the Twin Towers in the background. We took a tour bus into NYC and went up to one of the towers. I bough postcards and because one of our grandsons, Jason Betz, 12 at the time, had a collection of squashed pennies, we found a machine on top and got one for him.I remember we stood in single file to enter the elevator passing by several guards who were observing everyone in line. We were excited to see the view on the top and weren’t disappointed.On 9/11, as we watched the devastation, we remembered the employees that we came in contact with. Were they working that day on the observation deck?Thelma Richter, NewportThe 17-day bus tour we took began in Fargo, N.D. and New York was on the list. The Twin Towers were so exciting. The elevator goes 110 stories to the top in two minutes. You didn’t know if you are moving or stopping, so smooth. I wonder what the new (towers) will be like? Even better? Could be.