After my grandfather retired he would always point to two things he was proud of; The Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Twin Towers. He was a shop steward in the electrical union and his guys had done the work on both.
He could quite literally point to them because on a clear day you could see them both off his back patio, which was really a dock just off Jamaica Bay. A working class neighborhood with waterfront access and a view of Manhattan on a good day. He earned it.
I was glad he wasn’t around to see the towers come down. Days later an American Airlines jet flew low over his old house before diving into a neighborhood in the Rockaways…it was an accident but fresh after 9/11 New Yorkers were edgy. He would have been 94…a 94 year old shouldn’t have to go through that.
I couldn’t see the towers from our apartment in east central Queens…Manhattan was a world away. But I visited Manhattan often, mostly the museums, Radio City, stuff like that. The Towers, like the Statue of Liberty were for tourists and so my visits there were with visitors in tow. Friends from Indiana, cousins from Illinois. A crush from Michigan.
Night time was the time to go up to the Observation Deck. The city lights stretched out forever only broken by the a dark swath of Atlantic Ocean to the Southeast. It was quiet as a church and indeed it was almost spiritual that New Years Eve so many years ago.
All the people I took there, when they watched the towers come down, that visit was their connection. They must have thought “I was there. Right there.” Janie too…I wonder what she thought. “I was there with that crazy fool that was in love with me. I let him take my hand, in the dark, oblivious to the hate in the world”
But mostly I think of my Grandfather. And I miss him and hate that the tragedy reminds me of him.