Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Remembering Nine Eleven, Two Thousand One

A Personal Memorial by guest, Larry D. Fenwick 

During the decade of the 1980s, and the early part of the 1990s, I worked in the investment world of Wall Street and frequently attended monthly and quarterly meetings in New York City.  Our home office was located in the South Tower,  known by the name 2 World Trade Center.  The North Tower was slightly taller than the South Tower, 2 World Trade Center, and when you accounted for the spire which was atop the 1 World Trade Center, the height came to 1,728 feet.
Towers Under Construction

Both of the buildings were 110 stories tall.  Our offices were in the floors above 100, but were not on the top floor.  The Windows of the World restaurant was located on the 106th and 107th floors of 1 World Trade Center.  The Center actually consisted of seven buildings in lower Manhattan, and the area was so large and employed so many people that it had its own zip code.

I began my investment training on Wall Street in 1971, and while both of the World Trade Center buildings were under construction during that time, neither had been completed.  Construction actually began in 1968, but all seven buildings in the complex were not completed until 1987.

In 1983 I joined an investment firm in Dallas and became the Regional Sales Manager for the Central Division of our firm.  I covered the state of Kansas and nine other central states during those years, and in 1988 my job changed and I became the Divisional Director of Sales and Marketing for the same firm out of Atlanta.  In that position, I covered Georgia and eleven other Southeastern states.

Completed Twin Towers

During those years, when we were in meetings in New York, we stayed at the Vista Hotel located in the 3 World Trade Center building, connected to the South Tower by both an overhead skywalk, an underground tunnel, or corridors as well.  The NYC subway system had a large terminal station under some of the WTC buildings.

Both Twin Tower buildings had some unbelievable banks of elevators to service their buildings--99 each.  As in all high rise office buildings, you had to know the floor you were visiting in order to "get on the proper bank of elevators."  If you were going to the upper ten floors--where our companies were located--there was a special bank of elevators that travelled at 'warp speed' to ascend quickly to the top.  They traveled so fast that when they began to brake for a stop, you truly felt some moments of weightlessness. 

Our firm acquired Lehman Bros in the mid-80s, and we came into possession of most of their corporate furniture.  On one of the top floors at the Executive Dining Room of the firm, you entered a huge room that had an enormous table that could seat at least fifty people.  It had been the former Lehman Bros partners' table.  If you have seen some of the pictures of dining halls of historic castles in England, you can envision the Dining Room setting--minus the armory, swords, and ancient battle ware.

From that floor, you could walk to the west side of the building and look out the large windows to the left and, at night, see the illuminated Statue of Liberty in all it's glory, and then look to the right toward uptown along the Hudson river and see the Empire State Building in midtown, and further up, the Chrysler, Pan Am, and so many other notable landmarks of the city.  On a clear night, it was truly a special moment to feel good about America and American capitalism.

I often think back to the special meetings and my fellow work associates I shared that time with in those buildings.  Once, while I was standing at one of those large windows, a senior officer of the firm came over to me and said, "Fenwick, this is a long way from Kansas."  I am not sure what I said in response, but in fact he was correct; it was a long way from the plains of Kansas.

Memorial at the Twin Towers Site

On that tragic day of September 11, 2001, twenty years ago this week--when America lost so much, I also lost some friends.  In total, 2,606 people were killed in the Towers that day, including over 300 firemen who perished as first responders working to help rescue others.  Additionally, 157 people who were aboard the two planes that hit the towers also died.  Others were killed in two more hi-jacked planes, one of which hit the Pentagon, and others aboard United Flight 93 died when a courageous group of passengers led by Todd Beamer, who spoke the memorable words, "Let's Roll" as they attempted to regain control of the flight deck.  Although the plane crashed into the ground at Shanksville, PA, that brave group of passengers prevented the plane from crashing into its intended target in Washington, DC.

My wife and I have never been back to NYC nor Ground Zero since that horrific day, but we will.

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