Where were you on 9/11?

We could not have been more stunned this day, 10 years ago.

Watching it, hearing it unfold before us on TV and the radio didn’t make it any less incomprehensible–or horrific.

Where was the end of the film? Where was our commercial break?

How could reality do this to us?

And knowing that what we were experiencing through the distance of TV and radio was nothing compared to the people trapped inside the horror just made us feel all the more helpless.

My shock coalesced into one question, one grasp on the reality I still knew, and I got ahold of my dad to ask–“Is Ferdie okay?”

Ferdie lived on Long Island. I knew him as my dad’s long-time friend who’d been a friend to many musicians from the rhythm’n’blues and doo wop days, a record collector and creator of Disco-file (110 years of Race, Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll, Soul, and Doo-Wop). He also threw great picnics to benefit those awesome old musicians and singers such as Lillian Leach, whom I had the honor to meet.

All that he did from his house. I knew vaguely that he worked with computers in his day job, but not where. There was no logical reason for me to think he was anywhere near the Twin Towers.

But he had been. The horror was far more personal now.

From my dad’s email, 2001:

“I talked to Ferdie yesterday. He was in the second tower of the World Trade Center.  He left running, of course, and was covered with asbestos, cement, and fiberglass dust.  His glasses were broken in the crash. Spent 14 hours in the hospital where they gave him a shower and shaved his head to treat his wounds.  Then he went home by train.  He returned to work (at a different building) a few days later, went out for lunch and collapsed in the street.  Taken to Bellevue, sat there for 6 hours before he was examined.  They kept asking him if he was on drugs.  Finally he was diagnosed as having viral labryrinthitis.  Nothing can be done.  Again, home on the train (the people in his office were frantic wondering where he had gone – he left his attaché case when he went out for lunch and never returned).  Now he is home and unable to drive or work.  He still gets dizzy spells and it may be another week before the illness passes.  Incidentally, Ferdie was also in the World Trade Center when the bomb went off in 1993.”

Today, Ferdie has retired to Florida with a lot of other ex-New Yorkers. His health isn’t as good as it could be, but he’s staying busy with the latest edition of his Disco-file.

Geography doesn’t matter here. Whatever your opinion or experience of this day, none of us are unaffected. I know there are many who will never come back, families that will never be whole again. Our hearts go out to you for keeping memories and this day alive.

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