Early morning call
Joyce Rice, whose family has lived on Queen Anne Hill for six years, was among the first wave of Seattleites to be notified of the attacks. Her son, Andy, saw the second attack from the window of the building in New York City, about 30 to 40 blocks away from the Word Trade Center, where he recently started working.
"He called me at 6:30 in the morning and woke me up, and he just said get on the TV," Rice said.
She noted that her daughter, Lauren Burgon, was in a panic when she first saw the television reports of the tragedy because she didn't know exactly where her brother worked in New York City. She tried to call Andy, and couldn't get through, redialing multiple times. Finally she called her mother, from whom she heard the reassuring news that her brother was okay.
In an e-mail to his mother, Andy reported that, after watching the twin towers collapse, he and his coworkers wondered where another suicide plane might strike and decided it would be a good idea to leave.
The following is an excerpt from his e-mail description of the trek he and his friend, Trianda, made - beginning with a bus ride - as they tried to reach their separate homes after the attacks.
"Sitting across from us was a young woman who was looking kind of shaky and spooked, and she looked up when the guy next to me told her that she had a cut on her leg just above her shoe. She said, 'Yeah. I was running. I was in the tower.'
"The people sitting around turned to her and asked if she was all right, and what did she see. She said that it was horrible, that she had seen people jumping out of windows. Her eyes looked like a soldier's who has just seen war. Nobody felt like asking her too much more.
"The bus was soon packed and moving slowly, so we got off with a couple of blocks to go. Here, the streets were full of people, moving in all directions and all civil, but with that weird connectedness of strangers going through the same trauma.
"Instead of hundreds of individuals with their own thoughts and agendas, you knew that everyone was thinking about the exact same thing. I could have reached out my hand to any single person and said, "Oh my God. Can you believe it?" and they would have known what I was talking about and how I was feeling.
"A lot of cell phone transmitters were on the towers, so there were long lines at every pay phone. I had called Bobby (Andy's wife) from the office and told her I would head toward home and call when I got close or knew more.
"I finally reached 59th Street (having started at 23rd), and they had begun to let people out of the city. Trucks and cars crawled along the outbound lanes, but the inbound was a solid mass of people walking out of the city, looking like a slow-moving NY Marathon without the numbers."
Andy ended his e-mail to his mother on a poignant note.
"I guess that here is where I say something insightful to wrap this thing up in a bow, but it's not coming to me. I just wish the reporters and anchors on the news broadcasts would quit asking, after their subject has revealed how he/she escaped death and was still looking for friends and relatives, 'Can you tell us how that made you feel?' How do you think?"
A fortuitous move
Mildred Dowling, whose family has lived on Magnolia since they moved here from California in 1952, was also among the first in Seattle to learn of the New York disaster.
Her daughter, Lynn, and son-in-law, Bob Lucurell, work for Adjusters International and manage the company's office in New York City - an office that the couple had moved into a space in midtown on Aug. 21 after 3 1/2 years in the World Trade Center.
"My grandson, who runs the office downtown (in Seattle), called me a little after 6 (a.m.) and asked if I knew if they were on their way home," Dowling said.
The Lucurells were supposed to be on a trip. According to the itinerary they provided Dowling, she knew they should be with friends in Chicago, Ill., on Sept. 11.
About an hour after the call from her grandson, the Lucurells called to reassure Dowling that they were, in fact, safe in Chicago.
In the meantime, Dowling was receiving telephone calls and impromptu visits of sympathy from friends and neighbors who thought the Lucurells still worked in the World Trade Center.
"A friend of mine drove up, walked in the house without a word and put her arms around me. She thought I'd lost my daughter," Dowling said.
While Dowling appreciates the concern, she has been trying to get the word out that her daughter and son-in-law are fine - information that she has been asking each caller or visitor to spread.
The Lucurells are, however, now in New York City. They had to end their trip to return to their New York office where the phone was ringing off the hook following the attacks. Adjusters International handles insurance losses, according to Dowling.
The emotional wounds are still quite raw in the city that never sleeps.
"(Lynn and Bob) have been over twice to the building. Lynn said you see the firemen and the people standing there crying, because of what they're going through," Dowling said.
She said her daughter was most affected by the people who can barely speak English and have been patiently waiting near the ruins for news of loved ones missing since the attacks.
"I'm so humbly grateful that the children had left the (World Trade Center), and I didn't have a real catastrophe to deal with," Dowling said.
Lynn and Bob both grew up in Magnolia, and they have a home on Perkins Lane.
Escape by limousine
When Queen Anne resident Jackie Brooks and her husband, David, heard about the attacks, she figured that their son, Arthur Brooks, was safe. After all, he lives outside New York City with his wife, Ester, and their two children in Syracuse, N.Y., following a recent move from Georgia.
Then Jackie began to worry.
"I got to thinking about him being in the state of New York. I got nervous, so I called his wife," she said.
That's when Brooks discovered that her son, who teaches economics at Syracuse University, had taken the train to New York City that morning on business.
"As the train was going into the tunnel into New York, the first tower had already been struck. There was smoke all over," Jackie said. "When they came out of the tunnel, he saw the airplane hit the second tower, and he saw the first tower collapse."
Arthur's first thought was to get back to his family. It was tough to find a cab, so Arthur commandeered a limousine.
"He paid $1,000 to get back to Syracuse," Jackie said.
Once he arrived home, Arthur called his parents to let them know he was fine. Arthur grew up on Queen Anne Hill, where Jackie said her family put down roots in 1967.
In the Neighborhood
Seattle Public Schools
When the Seattle Public Schools first learned of the terrorist attacks, they immediately opened a constant communication with the Seattle Police Department and the Office of Emergency Management, according to Lynn Steinberg, spokesperson for the schools.
Despite the horrific events, the schools maintained their regular class and extracurricular activities schedule.
"We wanted to send a message to the students that school is a safe place," Steinberg said.
The district also sent a letter to staff and home with each student offering suggestions on how to help the youngsters deal with the tragedy.
At McClure Middle School, silver ribbons were issued to staff and students on Friday, Sept. 14 for the students to wear to memorialize the victims and the rescuers who lost their lives. Students and staff were encouraged to write, draw or paste "Messages of Hope" on a mural in the lunchroom.
The television in each classroom was tuned to the National Day of Remembrance Ceremony on Friday, Sept. 14.
A suggestion box was placed in the McClure main office to allow staff, students, parent and community members to provide ideas for ways to express sympathy for and contribute support to the victims and rescuers.
The universal impact of the attacks and the need to respond with some kind of action was most visibly represented in Seattle by the overwhelming community participation in the Flower Vigil at the Seattle Center.
Originally scheduled by officials to last three hours on Saturday, Sept. 15, the ceremony to create a living memorial spontaneously began on Friday, Sept. 14 and lasted until a closing ceremony on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 18.
More than 75,000 visitors lined up to fill the International Fountain at the Seattle Center with over 900,000 flowers. They also left cards, letters and drawings.
On Saturday, firefighters who showed up to take part in the planned ceremonies returned to their fire trucks to find them enveloped in flowers.
The thousands of letters, photographs and drawings left at the fountain will be professionally bound into memory books and sent to New York City and the District of Columbia.
The greenery in the International Fountain will be mulched and saved for a one-year memorial. On Sept. 11, 2002, the Seattle Center will invite the community to help plant a memorial garden as part of the new Fisher Pavilion project, which is under construction.
Although the garages and main entrance to the Bayview Manor retirement home were initially locked down for 24 hours, as a precaution, since then the residents have taken action in response to the tragedy.
Diane Haugen, Bayview's marketing director, said that residents held a vigil in the Bayview chapel and put together donations for the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and the September 11th Fund.