It’s been 11 years, since we moved to Brooklyn & set up shop. It was only a few months after my father passed away & only two weeks after we packed up a U-Haul full of our crap & drove it from Richmond, Virginia to New York City.
It seems like connections can be made with anything if you use enough imagination. For us, it wasn’t just imagination, but something much more real.
The night before the attacks, my girlfriend & I were shopping at our local K-Mart, which at the time was just off of Metropolitan Avenue in Queens. They had a rooftop parking garage (which I think is still there) that offered a beautiful view of the NYC skyline, from the Empire State Building to the Twin Towers. We joked about how fun it would be to throw a Frisbee from one tower to the other & made plans to visit the towers for the first time the following day.
The next morning was my day off from work. (I had a job at an old television station in Brooklyn called “WNYE TV” — so old in fact, that their broadcast transmitter was still located on-top of the Empire State Building). My girlfriend had a job interview set up for around lunch time, but nothing scheduled for the rest of the day.
Fortunately, we are not morning people & my girl’s interview meant an evening visit to the World Trade Towers was better for us. Just before 9AM, we were awakened by a phone call from my girlfriend’s brother (who lives in Canada), alerting us to the fact that a plane had crashed into the towers. We got up & turned on the news. A few minutes after she got off the phone with her brother, we received another call. This one was from the woman who had set up the job interview for later that day. She said that she was stuck in a huge traffic jam on the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway. She thought that it might have something to do with the airplane ‘accident’ downtown. She could see the billowing smoke off in the distance and thought it best to postpone the interview for another day. This unfortunate woman, stuck in terrible traffic, must have seen the second plane smash into the other tower shortly after hanging up the phone.
Just like most everyone else, for the rest of the day, we were glued to the television & occasionally peaking out our windows to watch the massive plume of black smoke rise above the city.
The next day I had to go in to work. My job was located just across the water from ground zero. Once I got into work I learned that WNYE TV was one of the only television stations in the city with a broadcast antenna not mounted on the World Trade Towers. Our broadcast signal was taken over by the city so that “NY 1” could broadcast 24 hour news coverage to the people of the city, as a way to keep everyone informed.
Over the next few weeks, hundreds of dump trucks full of death & debris began to line both sides of Tillery Street, just outside the front doors to the television station. They would remain there for many months, creating a nightmare of smells for any passers by.
9-11 was a nightmarish welcoming to the city for us. I figured if that did not get us to move out of the city, nothing would. I was wrong. Time changes everything. Eleven years later, we have moved the big-top out to the west coast. I will always love NYC. I may even end up living there again at another point in my life, but for now, I decided it was time to experience new things. I had always wanted to see what life was like in the wild west, so here we are.
I will always love my time in the Brooklyn Big Top, even with all the tragic experiences that came with it.
There is always more to the story. I may add a bit here & there as time goes on, if I am inspired to do so, but for now, I will leave you with a few drawings I did the first few days after 9-11.