Remembering 9/11:Susan Mellin

Susan Mellin of Montclair shares her memory of being in the city the day of the attack.
Shortly before 9 am on September 11, I was on the 86th Street crosstown bus, traveling to my office at 92nd and Fifth. A very nervous woman sitting in front of me suddenly blurted out that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I ignored her at first, thinking that she was a nut – but then the bus driver turned up his radio, and we all heard the dispatcher say that all buses were to stay out of the downtown area below Canal Street, because something had happened at the World Trade Center. tattered_flag_small_2I got off the bus at 86th and Madison and looked south, toward the MetLife building, and saw a huge black mushroom cloud. I started walking up Madison, very rapidly. My cell phone didn’t work. Cars were stopped in the street, with radios turned all the way up, and pedestrians were gathering around to listen. A dazed woman ran down Madison toward me, screaming “we’ve been attacked!” At the same time, the diners and coffee shops were full of people still having breakfast and chatting, obliviously – and out in the street, chaos.


It was surreal, so surreal that I actually stopped to get my usual cup of coffee. When I got to work, my colleagues were crowded around the TV, and I saw the burning towers. After checking in with my babysitter and trying to reach my husband (who I later learned was stuck underground on the subway for more than an hour), I actually turned on my computer and started working for a few minutes – talk about denial!

Then I snapped out of it and ran to the bank around the corner to get money out of the ATM. On my way back to my office, I found out that the building had been evacuated. Fortunately I got a ride home (in upper Manhattan, near the GW Bridge) and took an out-of-town colleague with me. I spent the rest of the day hugging my son and husband, crying, watching the TV, and looking at the huge smoke plumes from the roof of our building, because we had a direct view to downtown. We could see and hear the fighter jets overhead, circling the island. It was an extraordinarily beautiful day, with not a cloud in the sky.

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