Twenty years ago an eighteen year old kid from Brooklyn, NY would wake up with his mother and get ready for school like he did everyday. Wake up, brush teeth, and get dressed to return to the madness that was James Madison High school. I say madness because it was overpopulated, large and most of the time the 45 minute classes would take 30 minutes just to shut up so that the teachers could give us our work and let us continue on to the next class.
My mother whom also had to work at a nursing home was also getting ready to go. She would drive me down kings highway in a Lincoln that to today’s standards for cars would drive more like a tank than a car. We would stop just before we reached the school at McDonald’s. I would order my regular mcgriddle.. or was it a cherry cheese Danish from the bagel store around the corner? I don’t remember exactly but I know it was one of the two because it was always one of the two. My mom and I would have a conversation about this and that. She would turn the corner and drop me off so I could join the hurdes of teenagers with there hormel minds ready to start another day. We would all be slow in the morning and just getting thru the metal detectors was all everyone wanted to do. So fast to just find a seat in the auditorium and wait for the bell to ring to move to our first class. Mine would be my resource room which was kinda a gods send to me in the morning because whatever work I didn’t finish at home I tried to figure out during that 45 minutes.
At 8:46 AM the first plane would hit one of the towers. Now keep in mind this was before cell phones and social media. Yes we had AOL but things just weren’t that fast yet. While I worked do my papers one of the teachers would rush into the class room and turn on a small radio in the back of the class by the gateswindows. No one knew what the hell was happening all we were told was that a plane crashed into one of the towers and everyone was to stay in there classes. About 5 minutes after the teachers started listening to the radio the fire alarms would go off. Everyone in the building was to leave and wait outside as we always did for firedrills.
A few moments later teaches would be walking down each of the streets screaming “All students are to return home right now!” Of course being excited teenager my focus was on my friends. Students scrambled to find each other. I could have just walked home but the most logical thing I could think of to do was to go to my friend Lauren’s house because she lived closer to the school than me and I knew I could use her phone to call home. As I walked I looked over to the parked cars and noticed.. ash.. ash was raining down on everything like snow. Still having no clue what to do I got to the phone at Lauren’s and called my mother. She told me to go directly home which I did.
I walked down ocean parkway towards Avenue P and east 2nd. The roads held a silence. Nothing was moving at all. Brooklyn never did that! Yet what I came to find out was all the buses and trains stopped moving. If you didnt walk some place you weren’t going any place. The few cars I did see on the roads were cop cars, ambulances and fire trucks.
Over the course of the next few days the news at the time would search for answers. Lots of different ideas came to be told. My sister would be trapped on the island of Manhattan. Nothing was going in or out of the island.
Later on I would go to the rooftop of my best friend melvins home and there i would findCarlos. We looked at the city and noticed a giant gray cloud of smoke consumed the entire center of the city. We knew it was bad but seeing it like that with so many questions felt like we had been placed in a sci fi film. It was a strange time..
Honestly thinking back I find it hard to beileve that was 20 years ago. yet it was.. hmm