Neighbor to Neighbor: SE Queens community discusses travel slump

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Sometimes when things go wrong, we wonder why that is so. It’s easier, I suspect, for those of us who have faith to believe things will get better. For those beginning to lose the blush of youth, history also helps. As Cicero said, “History is the witness of the times, the torch of the truth, the life of memory, the teacher of life, the messenger of antiquity.”

When a large contingent from southeast Queens attended a recent meeting about trying to increase air travel and New York tourism, as you might imagine all the speakers told of the seriousness of their situations. Sept. 11, 2001 left its deadly mark in all too many places.

Some are recovering and some are struggling to recover, making at least a little headway, while others are not. Serious stuff.

During our very delicious luncheon, our host, Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (D-Laurelton), gave us a welcomed bit of light humor when he told us that part of the program had been canceled by the Port Authority.

We had what then was a happy ride on the AirTrain, but several weeks later three cars derailed during a test run and a young motorman from Springfield Gardens was killed.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of that young man. We wish that accident had never happened and his life could have been long and happy. Some things are not meant to be, as one of my fatalist friends tells me.

After the memorial service in St. Albans Park on Sept. 11, 2002, I told some of our legislators how lucky we were that I had failed to arrange an important meeting with them and the Secret Service. My membership in the Citizens’ Police Academy Alumni Association had taken me to a meeting with the U.S. Secret Service, 7 World Trade Center, to learn about “Crime in the Information Age” — cell phone cloning, credit card fraud and computer scams.

The presentation was fascinating, as were the exhibits of confiscated, illegal material that criminals had in their possession at the time of their arrest.

What appeared to be an oversized telephone directory was one of the items which left a lasting impression in my mind. It was just as thick and the print was just as small, except this was a different kind of telephone book; it contained stolen phone numbers collected by a criminal who sat in a skyscraper and pointed a very small electronic device at passersby, recording their cell phone numbers.

Our speaker told us that our legislators should attend the program as soon as space was available. I called a couple of weeks before Sept. 11, 2001, thinking that if they had an opening I would have time to go again with our legislators, however, I found that they had stopped giving the program.

Instead of retaining the sting of disappointment, I am very grateful that we could not go. I still wonder and worry about the nice and sometimes nameless people who trained us, and I’m grateful we still have our wonderful legislators with us, safe and sound.

Updated 7:24 pm, October 10, 2011
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