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Woman Watched Tower Fall From Greenwich Ferry

GREENWICH, Conn. — I was busy vacuuming my apartment when the phone rang.  It was my sister, Mel, phoning from Florida. “Do you have your TV on?” she asked in a very excited voice. “No, I don’t watch TV this early in the day,” I answered. “Well, hurry up,” she said, “and turn it on – a plane has hit the Twin Trade Towers!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I turned the TV on and saw what looked like a scene from a disaster movie — it couldn’t be happening in real life.

I decided I would run to catch the 10 o’clock Island Beach Ferry to see whether this whole happening was really true. My husband, David, and I were frequent ferry riders, and I remembered that we could see the towers from the ferry.

There were only a few people boarding the ferry that morning. One was our friend, John Lyons, as well as a young man, a young woman who was probably in her 30s, and a few other passengers.

Just before the ferry pulled out of the dock, the captain informed us that one of the towers had collapsed. How could this be happening on such a beautiful sunny day with a gorgeous blue, clear sky above? The ferry continued its passage with all of its passenger silent, in shock and grief.

The young woman used her cell phone to contact her ex-husband. She wanted to warn him to keep away from the tower area. Someone asked her why she bothered because he was no longer her husband. She replied, “He’s the father of my son.” This touched me deeply. As I found out later, the act of horror also brought out many acts of kindness in people.

As the ferry approached the area where we could see the towers, we were shocked beyond belief – the second tower was collapsing before our very eyes. It looked as if a column of brown dust and smoke was coming down. In horror, all I could think of was that so many people must be trapped in that tower and were falling to their deaths with it.

When the ferry docked on its return trip to the mainland, I got into my car and cried all the way home.  I cried for those people in the towers; I cried for concern for my husband who was working in Norwalk; I cried for fear for my son and other family in Milford — what would happen next to all of us? Were we all under some kind of attack?

I thought my daughter, who was living in Danbury with her family, might be the safest of us all. Should we gather together and head in that direction? I didn’t know what to think or do. Everything seemed so surreal.

Until I lose my memory, the day the twin towers were attacked will be etched deeply in my mind. The contrast of the beauty of the day, and the horror of what my eyes had borne witness to, was overwhelming.

—Anne Maddalene

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