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9/11 memories from Tulsa World readers

9/11 memories from Tulsa World readers

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I was 8 and remember that day fairly clearly; even as a child I knew this would be an important moment in history. I was in third grade at Jane Addams Elementary in Oakhurst. After the first reports of the planes hitting the south tower, I remember being ushered into the school’s gymnasium, where several other classes where already present. I remember my teacher crying. She kept saying something about her husband was supposed to be on a plane. I was not aware at the moment the impact of that statement. When parents began to pick up their students, I began to understand that something bad had happened. The panic and fear coming from the adults in the school was very palpable. I remember sitting in that gym for what felt like hours waiting for my parents.

The images from TV are likely in the subconscious of anyone old enough to remember that tragic yet somehow American day. All the rescuers thought of was helping a fellow American. That is one of my biggest memories of that whole time. As time has passed, I feel a slow anger building toward our politicians that we must address. The main motto after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was "We Will Never Forget"; however, in just 20 short years we have forgotten, and that’s something that I will never forgive.

Jessica Admire, Tulsa

I was in my office on the morning of 9/11. My newly married daughter always called me in the mornings, and that day when I answered, she said, "Oh gosh, the network is saying a plane hit the World Trade Center tower." We figured it had to be a lost small plane. But then she screamed with terror in her voice: "I just saw a different plane hit the other tower!”

My son was deployed overseas with the Army and sent me an instant message saying they were confined to post and were "sitting on go." I began to feel heartsick in many ways.

Then people in my office began crying out that the Pentagon had been hit by an aircraft and was on fire. Fighting waves of nausea, I walked outside to our parking lot. For the first time in my life, I felt ice-cold fear in my veins, and I knew we would be going to war.

Kim Little, Tulsa


My phone rang before I had started moving that morning, so I sleepily answered my call (prior to caller ID) from England. It was my son's partner telling me about a plane striking the World Trade Center. I listened, then asked for the rest of the joke before he swore the truth, and I turned on TV.

My story lies in the fact that he said everywhere he went in England that day and those following people saw him and said "God Bless America."

Sue Maxey, Tulsa


I was working in LA at Fox Plaza (the Die Hard Building) on the 27th floor, commuting from Tulsa every week. I should have been in the air on that Tuesday, but because I was heading to Canada the next weekend, I flew in on Monday. I arrived at work at 7 a.m. (10 a.m. in NYC), and on the internet saw the burning twin towers. Out my window and across the street were the ABC Twin towers, both about 30 stories, and I thought "Could these be next?" Thank God they weren’t. Right after the first tower came down, we evacuated the building. What a sad day in our history.

Bill Thompson, Broken Arrow


As a regent at the University of Oklahoma, we were having a meeting on the Norman campus. Then-OU President David Boren (former state legislator, Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator) was at the White House in Washington having some sort of meeting. When the attacks occurred, Washington, of course, was put on alert, and people in the White House were sent to the underground bunker of the White House for safety. Our regents meeting stopped, and we all gathered around television monitors to view this grave attack on our country.

My wife, Cherrie, and a group of her girlfriends were preparing to depart Tulsa on a private airplane to take them on a holiday. Just before departure, the total airspace for flight in America was closed, and no flights were allowed. Their travel plans were canceled.

God Bless America.

Robin Siegfried, Tulsa


The phone rang that morning in the hotel in Houston. We were sleeping in, an off day for my wife, Tatiana, at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, with scans the previous day and consultations with doctors the next. Our son Jonathan in New York said, “I’m OK.”

“Uh, that’s good,” I replied, awake enough to wonder why he’d call to say that.

“A plane hit the World Trade Center,” he said.

Now focused, I thought perhaps a small single-engine craft — accidents had been known to happen. Jonathan said, “Dad, turn on the TV.” I did, and saw.

The first tower was down; a while later the second tower fell. I was fully awake yet in shock, feeling before I’d begun to process it consciously that we’d passed into a new phase of history. Jonathan was walking from his job in lower Manhattan across the bridge to his home in Brooklyn. He, too, in his way, was passing from one era into another. So he, and we, were spared that day and since from what so many others were not, the immediate casualties, and all those involved who have suffered or succumbed. Tatiana has since died, after 20 years in “relationship” with cancer (as a cancer-surviving friend recently put it regarding her own experience). But that morning in Houston is what I first recall, when she and I — and we as a nation — began before we even knew it to reflect on the continuing consequences of 9/11.

Gordon Taylor, Tulsa


Sept. 11 I was working in Brussels, Belgium, at a decorative textile exhibition "Decosit." My position with Tulsa based Fabricut Inc. was international sales manager. I was working with a customer at 3 p.m. Brussels time when the hijacked planes began hitting their targets. Everyone was alarmed; at the time we did not know the magnitude of the attacks. My thought was an aircraft controller brought a plane low over the Hudson River into LaGuardia. We returned to our customers, but within moments word came of the second tower being hit and other attacks. U.S. embassy personnel made arrangements for a secure return to our hotels. We remained in Brussels for the next 10 days before finally getting a flight out of London back to U.S. soil.

Mike Dolina, Sand Springs


On this infamous day my family and I resided in northern Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., and several miles from the Pentagon. That morning I was the onsite lead of the 85 staff members of the American Industrial Hygiene Association in Fairfax, Virginia.

While on a conference call, staff advised me that a plane had hit one of the twin towers. Call concluded, I and others went to our lunch room and turned on the television, just in time to see a plane strike the second tower.

Comprehending that we had just witnessed a terrorist attack, the room fell silent. It was a difficult event to digest, let alone react to. Most quietly embraced disbelief, some prayed, and we all shared a deep sadness.

I advised our staff that they were free to leave for the day. Soon after, the Pentagon was hit. I then told everyone to go home to their families.

I left the building several hours later. The beltway, day and night always clogged with traffic, was almost empty. I shared my drive with a handful of vehicles. In the distance smoke billowed out of the Pentagon. It was absolutely foreboding.

That evening we were glued to the television. Although within the flight path of busy National Airport, there were no planes flying that evening, except for the occasional fighter planes screaming overhead.

Like Jan. 6, 2021, 9/11 was a day that changed America forever, especially those of us who served as witnesses.

Steven Davis


I live in Oklahoma and was flying to Lebanon, Missouri, weekly for business. I flew a small general aviation type airplane. While en route that day, there was an emergency warning for all airplanes to land at the nearest airport immediately. I didn't hear the warning when it came over the aircraft radio. Just as I had done all the times before, I called the airport for landing instructions on which runway to use or land on, and I was given instruction as to what runway to use. Upon arrival to the airport, I noticed several airplanes were landing in different runways and in any direction they could. I began to think, what is wrong with these guys? After landing, the flight attendant wanted to know if I needed to top of the fuel. I explained to him that I would refuel before I left that evening. It was at that time, he informed me that I would not be leaving in an airplane, as they had been banned from flying throughout the U.S. I just bought a used car and drove home. It was a total of four days before small aircraft were able to fly again.

Glen Plott, Miami, Oklahoma


I was working as a Coca-Cola vending machine installer in Tulsa. That morning my co-worker Trent Almon said "a small airplane just crashed into the World Trade Center.” We decided to see if we could see the footage of what was going on the news. Shortly before we got to Vinita, the second plane crashed into the other tower. Instantly I was overwhelmed with thoughts of desperation and despair.

In the Vinita Walmart, it felt like we were walking toward a funeral. Everyone had the same look of despair and shock. I still remember all of these older folks that perhaps had fought the second World War, standing and watching the replays of the incidents on 20 different TVs all at the same time.

No one said a single word, complete silence.

Paul Perryman and went to work in Quapaw, where not a single vehicle was operating on the streets. Not a single soul walking down the sidewalks. Every gas station and business was closed early. It was such an eerie feeling to not see a single person or vehicle in the town. We eventually headed toward Fairland, where the only gas station had doubled the price of their gasoline.

The drive back to Tulsa was enduring many hours listening to the radio, trying to imagine what was to come the next day.

Joseph Henretty, Tulsa


I was at Northeastern State University, and my first class was at 10 a.m., so by the time I got up, the second tower had been down for about an hour. I turned on the TV to let TNT’s reruns of syndicated shows play in the background. That’s not a channel that gets preempted with breaking news.

I go into the dorm’s communal bathroom, and as I’m sitting on the toilet in one of the stalls, someone comes in and starts talking really fast. I didn’t realize they were talking to me, so I wasn’t actually paying attention. I only caught the tail end as they said, “… Pentagon [inaudible] and the powers have collapsed.”

It made no sense. What powers? No powers are going to collapse, not the US anyway. It didn’t help I had no idea who was talking—I still don’t—and therefore had no context whatsoever. I pretty much brushed the whole thing off.

So I do my morning routine, take a shower, etc, and go back to my room. I still thought whoever had talked at me was nuts or something. What powers could have possibly collapsed overnight?

I decided to flip over to CNN to see if there was any news or information about what they had gone on about.

Oh. Towers. The towers have collapsed.

Jessica Coplen, Tulsa


It was in the free-breakfast nook of a cheap hotel, where I was enjoying a stale donut, watered OJ, and burnt coffee. In her old and lonely house, my frail 91-year-old widowed mother awaited my arrival. She’d lived alone too long. Her only companion was a 13-inch TV on the kitchen table where she sat from morning till night. The daily Meals-on-Wheels delivery was the highlight of her day. Her favorite channel? The Weather channel.

The Twin-Towers were ablaze on the hotel TV! I first recalled the 1945 US Bomber crash into the Empire State building. My mother would recall the same accident. But this was no accident!

It was my fastest hotel ‘Pack-Up and Check-Out’—ever! “What about my mother?” I thought.

My mother wanted to hold hands. Her first words; “This isn’t good.” Together we sat, watching her little kitchen TV. She recalled WWII, her friends and kin who fought, the rationing and shortages. She wondered aloud if this would be another war. “I’m not ready for another war”, she said.

She reminisced. The events unfolded on the TV. She reminisced some more. My mother: from the Greatest Generation… helped win WWII.

Later, we got her things together, she left the house where she’d been born 91 years before. She moved to the nursing home. Mom died few weeks later.

“This isn’t good,” she said. “I’m not ready for another war.”

Robert E. Branson, Tulsa


I traveled for work Nationally and Internationally around 40 weeks a year and 9/11/2001 was no different. I had checked in at Tulsa International Airport and was sitting on an American Airlines flight to Chicago and there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. The plane appeared to be delayed and all of a sudden, the pilot got on the intercom and notified us that all flights were cancelled and to go home, not giving a reason. Cell phones were not a prevalent back then as they are now, and I did not have one. When I got back to my car and started to drive home, I turned on the news and found out what had happened. Knowing that I was traveling, my wife and children didn’t know where I was at the time and were somewhat frantic as they couldn’t contact me as I only had a corporate 800 voice mail number for messages. They made me buy a cell phone the next day!

Phil Goldfarb, Tulsa


I was at a client's office in Alexandria, Virginia, that morning getting ready to go to the airport for a flight home. Someone rushed in and said turn on the TV. As I did I saw the second plane hit. Around that time I saw black smoke coming from the direction of the Pentagon which was just across the Potomac. All flights of course were cancelled. I tried to get a train or bus going west but all were booked. I had just checked out of my hotel before going to my client’s office so they helped me find another hotel. Just my luck that they had their own in-house travel agency.

I was stranded for 2 days before I managed to get the rental car my client booked for me and drove home in 2 days. I was dropped off at Reagan Airport to pick up the car. I walked for what seemed to be a mile to get to the rental cars through an empty parking garage. Only saw one security guard in that garage who didn’t even acknowledge my presence.

No cell service the day it happened, but reached my wife in Tulsa the next day. Very eerie feeling, everyone was polite in Alexandria, on the roads and in the places I stopped along the way. Traffic through D.C. was a mess.

Bob Wilkerson, Tulsa


My son Bryan, a trader, and his wife Irene, a financial analyst, were working on Wall Street. My son looked out his window soon after the first airplane hit and called Irene to get out of her building. Her company, Lehman Brothers, was not releasing their employees, so he told her to meet him at the Jersey Pier. Unfortunately, that’s where everyone else was fleeing for their lives — a madhouse. So, Bryan began walking back to her building until suddenly everyone turned on a dime and started pushing him back. He caught a taxi and ended up nine miles north. But no one knew where he was. Irene had made it to their home in Jersey and frantically called everyone. We did not hear from Bryan all day because the cell service was down. 

A year later, he, Irene and their new baby left NYC, ending up in Argentina for five years. Now with five more children, they live in Florida off the grid, with solar, on a farm milking cows, raising their own food, and homeschooling their children.

Marilyn Inhofe-Tucker, Tulsa


I was still living in Dallas at the time and having breakfast with a friend at the Circle Grille. At one point, I glanced up at the T.V. and my first thought was that it was the building where I worked in downtown Dallas. Everyone in the restaurant moved toward the T.V. and stood there in stunned silence watching it unfold. I called my mother in

Muskogee as soon as I could because I had taken her to New York for her first time just the following June.

The full force of it hit me emotionally, though, when I got to work and reached for my computer mouse. The attached picture of my son and goddaughter was taken in 1999 and I had a mousepad made of it.

Cheryl Cato, Tulsa


I remember September 11, 2001 very well. As I was cleaning a patient's teeth at my office, the dentist came in my room and said that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. We thought it was a horrible accident. A few minutes later, he said another plane had crashed into the towers. We knew it wasn't an accident. Then my husband called and said "Get to the hospital. Dad's dying." I rushed to St. John and saw everyone standing around the televisions. The buildings fell. My father-in-law died. Our nation was irrevocably changed. And so was our family with the death of my dear father-in-law, Harry Bayouth.

Cheryl Bayouth, Bixby


On Friday morning, Sept. 7, 2001 I flew to NYC for meetings and flew back to Tulsa late Monday, Sept. 10, 2001. The next morning, in a doctor’s waiting room, everyone was glued to the TV after the first building was hit. I was sitting next to a man who asked if the building was falling. I said no, that has to be water from the fire hose cascading down. I have no idea why I thought a fire person could shoot water that high. Pretty soon they were magnifying the images. I was stunned. The second tower was hit. Then I saw reports about the Pentagon and the plane that was taken over by the hostages. It took awhile for it to sink in. I still had friends in NYC who had not left yet because they had more meetings than I did. I called them up. I did not really grasp the enormity of the situation - I asked where they were going to dinner, if they were going to a Broadway show. There was also an election in NYC on 9/11. My friends told me that NYC had ground to a halt. The subways were stopped. People could not get to work. Restaurants, the theater etc. were closed. Planes across the U.S. were grounded. There was chaos.

There was chaos not just in NYC but in the whole United States and the World.

I was grateful that I chose to come home on Monday.

Brian Edward Brouse, Tulsa


On Sept. 10, 2001 I was attending a multi-day conference in Tulsa of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A longtime public representative on the Oklahoma State NCA schools, we had been in all-day meetings when I began to feel a bit ill.

Rather than spend the night as planned I came home and straight to bed.

On the morning of Sept. 11, I made it to the couch and turned on the TV. A few minutes later my blood ran cold as I watched a plane fly into the Twin Towers, buildings I didn’t need the TV news to identify.

Then I watched and prayed as people jumped from the upper story windows and yet others fled to the streets below, ash falling on them.

As I write this I am ashamed to say my next thoughts were somewhat selfish.

We’ll never be there again, never see the top floor Windows on the World where we celebrated my youngest son’s recent birthday – complete with required jacket and tie. Where Lou Boccardi, then president of Associated Press, sat at the next table with his family, drinking their Coca Cola from a bottle. Why is that a memory? Tracy decided to order tea because he didn’t know if the glitz of the setting called for bottled Coke.

Then, from the couch I saw the Pentagon being struck. I will never again see the inner circle I saw with my brother-in-law years before.

Then, I started praying again.

Pat Reeder, Claremore


It was a beautiful warm autumn morning in NYC with the clearest blue skies.

I had just watched the second plane hit the South Tower and my mind was struggling to make sense of it all. How could it happen?

I looked at the clock on the Jefferson Market Library, it was 9:25am. I snapped a photo.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that 34 minutes later the South Tower would collapse & at 10:28am the North Tower would follow killing the workers trapped above where the planes entered and the firefighters who were trying to get to them.

I cried as I watched the towers fall and I still cry today when I think about that day.

All those lives lost.

It changed my life forever.

I promised myself that I would never take my life, my friends or my family for granted.

Prayers for love and peace.

Christina Jeppesen


Judge Morrissey and I had just finished our early morning walk and I was in the shower when my husband pulled me out to see the news of the first plane. As we were standing in our room, the second plane hit and the news began to quickly indicate multiple terrorist attacks, one at the Pentagon, close to our daughter’s condo. We tried to call her but couldn’t get through. Local news announced all federal buildings were closed. I worked for Judge Thomas Brett and called the office to verify. Our office was open. The Judge had a television in chambers so we watched news updates while/between trying to distractedly conduct business. Judge Brett said if we shut down, the terrorists win and he would not be a party to that and they weren’t coming to Tulsa. Judge and I walked downtown for lunch. It was earily quiet and fear and anxiety were palpable. We ran into Joan Mayes and realized it was her birthday and her court party had been canceled. I kept trying to get through to our daughter and the Judge was also trying to reach a granddaughter attending NYU who lived a few blocks from the towers. When I finally got through to Lisa several hours later, she was oblivious to any of the events. I told her to look out her balcony where she could see the Pentagon smoke. Judge Brett’s granddaughter was also ok. But we all knew the world would never be the same.

Patricia Neel, Tulsa


My husband and I were away from home, on the tail end of a trip to California. The morning of 9/11 found us in a cabin in Big Sur.

I do not believe there was a TV or a radio in the room.

We spent the morning hiking, then left to eat. At lunch we overheard

LAX was closed. We drove home in a rental vehicle.

It wasn't until one year later did we realize the terror and uncertainty our country experienced when we read a timeline of events occurring on 9/11

in the Tulsa World. Though we were Americans in the United States, we missed much of that tragic day.

Debbie Lederman, Tulsa


After the TV view of the plane flying into the towers, we remembered repeated flashes of the towers falling; one daughter thought this was the end of the world.

All of my daughters were in their 20s, and one said at first her husband at work called and told her to turn on the TV. My youngest daughter just remembers how empty the skies were that whole week. After this, one daughter said she applied for a real will.

Jan Graham, Tulsa


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