For Richard Szathmary, who lives in Clifton, the most searing memory from that day was not an image, but a sound.
I worked in a five-story building on Park Place, two blocks from the WTC. When the first plane hit, I and an art department guy named Raoul went up to the roof, where we sometimes had lunch. There, we picked up odd pieces of, well, “junk” that hadn’t been there a few days before. And they were, interestingly, warm to the touch. If you remember the old “Tinkertoys” sets, that’s what they reminded me of, but in metal as opposed to the wood of Tinkertoys.
I can still summon up that sound in my head. Not the crash itself, but always the sound of it, separate from everything else. I can sit through the loudest, most special-effects-filled movie out there and still, that sound beats it.
Yet they never seem to remember the sound. I do. And I also recall a Robert Graves story, made into a movie with Alan Bates, called “The Shout,” about a guy who claimed he could commit mayhem just with a shout. You know, I now almost believe the premise of that story.
So there you go: the sound and the “Tinkertoy effect,” for whatever they both mean. Maybe not much, because, after all, save for the loss of my job I really wasn’t affected. Those who suffered the most are either dead or grieving for their dead. I pray for them still, just as I also pray for Fr. Mychal Judge, who’d been assigned to my parish (St. Joseph’s) in East Rutherford as I was growing up and with whom I occasionally I went for coffee when I’d worked in the neighborhood where he resided (the West 30’s). But even when I’m sitting in church at mass, I sometimes still hear that crunching noise. Probably always will, too.