“Wow”, what a pretty, perfect morning to ride to work, not a cloud in the sky, a slight breeze, and great road conditions, and to think I was actually debating on whether or not to take the train in to work. My 10 year old son knows how I love to ride to my job whenever I can, and he is the one who convinced me to take Stargazer, (my 2001 650 Deep Purple Classic V-Star), out for some exercise.
It was the morning of 9/11/01. My office is located 2 blocks from Ground Zero. I never made it…
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Twin Towers in Smoke I kissed my son so long at the school bus, started Stargazer up and off I went thoroughly enjoying the morning commute until I got to the toll booths at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. For those who are unfamiliar with this tunnel, it connects Brooklyn, New York to Manhattan.
I was waiting my turn to pay my toll when I looked up and saw lots of smoke, but what amazed me was that the smoke was “twinkling”. Later on after putting two and two
Images That We Will Never Forget
together, I realized that the “twinkling” I saw was pulverized glass from Tower number one. A man in a car next to me said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I figured it was a commuter plane. I said a prayer while I waited for the safety of those on board, proceeded to pay my toll and joined the rest of rush hour.
The traffic in the tunnel crawled. Stargazer was starving for air and was beginning to stall out on me. A woman in the lane next to me was good enough to give me a report and told me that another plane had hit the second Tower. I remember thinking “Oh My God, it is crystal clear out. How can you not see these two mammoth buildings sticking up out of the ground?” It then occurred to me that this was no commuter plane, we were under attack.
Fifty minutes later, with the inside of my legs burning from the heat of the engine, Stargazer stalled for her fourth and last time. I was duck walking her out of the tunnel when Tower Two fell in front of me. Then and there I swear I saw the gates of hell open. I turned the key to off, got off, and to the best of my ability tried to feel where I was going because you could not see where you were going. People were screaming. They were broken, bruised and bloodied. I saw things only reserved for horror movies. I still had my helmet on which was a good thing because I felt things banging off of it. I didn’t know what those things were, but I could only imagine.
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Survivors Walking Through Dust and Rubble
I and so many others ran back in to the tunnel to the Brooklyn side to try and escape. Our vehicles remained wherever we left them. When we finally, after what seemed an hour’s walk, emerged from the tunnel, EMS workers were there for us to wash us down, give us water and oxygen and masks to breathe through. We had to surrender our keys to our vehicles. I had no idea what was to become of Stargazer or what condition she would be in or if I would even see her again.
It was mass hysteria and chaos. I was so damned lucky to be alive, but even through all this, my mind was on my bike. How was I going to get her?
I was told that she would have to be flat-bedded to an undisclosed location and given a phone number where I could get her within a “day or two”. I said that she was not going to be flat-bedded anywhere and that I would
Dust and Rubble Blanketed the City
wait for as long as it would take until they brought her out of the tunnel. I had no way to get home from there and was adamant about not leaving without my bike.
I and others waited more than 8 hours and since I was first out of the tunnel, my bike came up first.
I was speaking with someone when I heard the low, growl of her pipes. My beautiful purple bike was covered in inches of ash and soot. If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed it was her.
As they were getting her, they dropped her causing my heel/toe shifter to be bent at a crazy angle, my clutch was not working right, and in the heat of the engine, I melted a plastic part having to do with the oil from under the bike and now was leaking oil. She also managed a few scratches to her gas tank. A really nice guy was able to re-bend the shifter so I could ride it home.
I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to get us home. I was exhausted and filthy and so was she, but unlike so many others, I was alive only but through the grace of God, and got to see my family.
I had to have her carbs rebuilt and the leak and clutch problem have been fixed. I had to wash her three times to get the soot and ash off of her. There are places on Stargazer that still have soot and ash, but I will never clean these places because I know that in this soot are the ashes of lost souls. I promise to always take them with me where their spirits can ride the wind with me.
City in Total Devastation
Devastation Everywhere the Eye Could See
It is two months gone by now. Lower Manhattan is still a mess, Ground Zero is still burning many levels down, streets are closed and people are still in disbelief, as am I.
The Battery Tunnel remains closed. I don’t know if I can ever ride through it again.
Update July 2, 2007
Just today at lunch I walked by Ground Zero and people still come by the hundreds almost 6 years later. They are really working in there, laying foundations and pouring concrete.Number 7 is up and partially occupied. Maybe someday it will look like something again.
Photos Courtesy of Chrissie Shaw