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After the catastrophe at the World Trade Center our cousins in California each called to see how we were, as we had done when they had earthquakes out there. Our family and friends were fine, although my daughter Andrea, who was six months pregnant, works about four blocks from the World Trade Center. Luckily her boss had told her and another woman, who was also expecting, to leave and go home immediately. She missed the dust and terror which soon followed.
My wife Edna has just retired after 40 years with the Board of Education. We had booked a cruise on the Royal Princess From New York up the coast and then down the St. Lawrence to Montreal. With heavy heart we decided to go on the cruise. We were bused up to Boston where we boarded the ship. One of the first things we saw when we looked at the harbor was a small Coast Guard assault boat with three sailors and a mounted machine gun circling the ship. We saw a similar sight while docked in the harbor in Portland, Maine. This is the new world we must live in.
I realized that the pain of the tragedy reached up to Portland when I read in the Oct. 2 Portland Press Herald that Kevin P. Conners, 55, who was a vice-president at Euro Brokers had perished on Sept. 11 in the Trade Center. In Banger, Maine I discovered that the tour bus driver, Dale Stout, was a fireman who drove the bus on his days off. He told me that a group of firefighters from Portland would be going down to New York City when there is a memorial service. He explained that he had visited New York while on vacation and had met some of the now-lost firefighters at the firehouse near the World Trade Center. We talked about the dangers which a firefighter faces when going into a burning building. He spoke of the brotherhood of firefighters.
In Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada I talked to the ecology guide as we walked in a tour of a nature preserve. The guide explained that the town had collected about $30,000 for the WTC victims. He told me that many of the firefighters are of Irish extraction and a number had already gone down to New York City to volunteer their services.
As we exited the ship in the various ports in Canada the first things we saw were the American flags on the lapels of the police officers on the docks. It brought a tear to our eyes. Security was heavy in Canada also. It made us feel safer but we knew the world had changed.
As the Royal Princess cruised northward into the St. Lawrence River an announcement was made that there would be Sunday interdenominational church services. It was also announced that, as had been the case for the previous two weeks, all money collected at the service would be donated to the widows and orphans fund for the WTC families.
As we toured Edna I kept noticing American flags on buildings. We had one on our stateroom door which we had taken from one of our New York newspapers. On our last evening in Montreal, we were walking down a street and heard a fire engine. As it went by I pointed out to my wife that there was a large American flag fluttering from the back of the truck. She said, Yes, but there was also a small one attached to the antenna.
When our bus pulled into the United States Customs area we were asked to leave the bus and put our carry-on baggage on a yellow line. We were then ushered into the building where a Customs Agent talked to us and checked our passports. Outside a dog was led to our bags and then into the bus. I can only guess what the dog was looking for but he and the handler looked efficient.
All and all it was a very nice cruise except that we kept watching CNN as our War on Terrorism progressed. The terror events were, of course, a key topic of conversation we had with fellow Americans and with British passengers. The ship was about 90 percent full and the sights were great, but we were happy to get home.
When leaving Penn Station we discovered that taxis were no longer permitted to come down into the street between Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. We had to pull our bags up to the side street to get a taxi - increased security. Things had changed - the world had changed!
GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK
When I returned home from my cruise I read my accumulated newspapers and realized that paper after paper were printing stories about those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center catastrophe. Many photos of the victims were included.
It really showed the magnitude of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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