This article was written by Joseph Curci, Executive Producer of the WOR 710 Mets Radio Network
It was the second week of my journey through middle school, seventh grade to be precise. Sitting patiently in Mr. Shadell's gym class, a secretary walked into the gymnasium and called my name. I walked over puzzled and confused. Could I really be in trouble already?
"I just wanted to let you know your father is okay," she said. Quickly I replied, "What do you mean? What happened?" even more puzzled than when I was walking over. "Something happened at his office, but we just wanted to tell you he's okay.”
I paced back to my squad spot confused as to what could have happened and began the stretching regiment. Not five minutes went by when another office person walked into the gym and called my name for dismissal. Dismissal? It couldn't have been 10 am yet. Why would I be leaving early?
I walked up a back corridor to my second floor locker and began to pack my things. I remember my social studies teacher walking by asking me why I was leaving. "Something happened at my Dad's office, but I have no clue so I'm heading home". She knew what had happened already, but I was too naive to pick up on the slight change in her tone when she said, "I hope he's ok".
I walked down the stairs to the lobby entrance and was in shock as to what I saw. There must have been 100 people frantically looking for their children. Now I was even more baffled as to what was going on. Trying to search out my Mom from the mob, I heard my name being called to my left. It wasn't my mother, but my Aunt Marie & Uncle Noel. What the heck are they doing here? Their kids are too old for middle school. I walked over and they told me that my Mom had asked them to pick me up.
We walked to their car and I remember Aunt Marie coming to sit in the backseat with me. I'm a big seventh grader, I don't need an adult to watch me in the back seat. Little did I know. As we settled in, my plea to finally find out what the heck was going on was answered. "A plane crashed into your father's office". What?! Huh?! A plane?! I started to cry, but I didn't really process what happened. My father worked on the 55th floor of Tower 2 at the World Trade Center. His office was awesome. I would know, because I was just there 10 days earlier on my annual trek to work with Dad before school started. I must have asked a million questions in the ten minutes it took to drive from my school to our home.
When we arrived I vividly remember my Mom sitting on a stool that sat just under our kitchen phone. I walked in through the door and she smothered me in a tearful hello, which I wasn't prepared for. I still didn't comprehend what was going on. A few neighbors were there and everyone was quiet. She told me that she heard from a random woman that called maybe twenty or thirty minutes prior saying that Dad had made it out of the building. We still hadn't heard from him, and I immediately ran over to the TV. That's when it hit me.
Holy $h*t! They played the footage over and over again. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. We knew that he made it out, but did he escape the carnage when the buildings fell? That's all I kept asking myself. A few hours went by and my house became more packed as more family and friends came by to console my Mother and me.
Around 2:00pm, I walked over to a window near the front of the house and there he was. I had never been happier to see my Dad's tan sedan pull into our driveway. "It's Dad" I said. I didn't yell like a kid on Christmas, I think I was still in a hazy state of shock still trying to process everything. Everyone ran to the door as I barreled through and walked outside.
It was him, my Dad, in a way I had never seen him before. He was shirtless, slacks and once shiny dress shoes, covered with a thin layer of soot. I walked up to him on the driveway and he was shaken, happy to be home, but definitely not the same person. He walked in to a parade of tear-filled hugs and kisses from the various family and friends that were there.
We sat on the deck as my Dad was able to share his story. He walked down the stairs to the street from the 55th floor. He was about three blocks away when the first building came down. He said it was like a movie as the streets were flooded with waves of smoke and debris. After the dust settled he recalled walking to an abandoned newsstand and washing off with some bottled water. A group of them continued to the harbor where he got on one of the last ferries to New Jersey. He left out a lot of details and to this day he has never spoken about that day again to us.
Not everyone was as lucky as our family that day. Each year my family is reminded just how fortunate we are as we stop and think about those who were lost. It will always be a day that we will never forget.
I love you Dad.