A Decade After
September 9, 2011

By Sahely Mukerji

The October 2001 USGlass shared the initial reaction of glass industry professionals to the 9/11 tragedy.

It’s been 10 years since the planes hit the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Glass industry professionals living in the NYC and D.C. areas recalled where they were when they first heard about the planes hitting the WTC and the Pentagon. Below are excerpts.

David Majewski, president of Jerome Aluminum Products in Westbury, N.Y.

 “On that beautiful September morning I was with clients on the golf course. Like any picture perfect day, on a pristine Long Island golf course the phone rang. It was a customer, then my wife, then another customer, all stating that there was a tragic plane accident at the World Trade Center. Based on the phone calls, I thought that when the first plane hit it was an accident. Then, as we all know, the sequence of tragic events transpired, and then we lost all cell phone communication and my world went silent, which is very uncommon.

“Without thought, our foursome broke up and we all scattered to contact loved ones. It was a day I will never forget. The days following that day, was like being part of a scary movie. My business came to a screeching halt and believably so. The devastation from that day still lingers. Most importantly, I thank God my entire family was safe and spared.”

Marcy Karpel, vice president of Crosstown Shade and Glass in New York City

“I was home at the time getting ready to go to work, and saw it all happening on TV. Interestingly, where I lived, I had a view of lower Manhattan. So, I went out, down to the Hudson River, and saw the aftermath. I was able to see the towers while they were still standing. There was smoke in the skies. I was completely sick from it. I don’t think at the time I fully understood the severity of the situation. My glass shop’s in Manhattan, and we had a schedule, we were going to send the mechanics out to go out to their route. And I was asking if we were going to send the trucks out. Obviously, I didn’t understand the severity of the situation. I think we might have closed for that day.”

Thomas Chen, president of Crystal Window & Door Systems in Flushing, N.Y.

"I was at Crystal Window's new factory in the New York City borough of Queens about 10 miles from Ground Zero. We were still in the midst of moving in, so, it was a busy morning. I was shocked and couldn't believe the news reports at first, but stepping outside I soon knew it was true, since we could see the black smoke rising from lower Manhattan. That morning and the days that followed were like a terrible, frightening and very sad dream."

Bill Aubin, owner of Queen City Glass in Manchester, N.H.

“I was in my office getting ready to go out and do estimates when we heard there was a plane crash in New York on the radio. Immediately my wife and salesman became glued to the radio, we had customers and suppliers calling and letting us know what was happening. Then we heard of the second plane. Some of our people went home early, it was a tragic day. I will never forget seeing the massive buildings coming down and the plane going through the building.”

Michael Z. Nicklas, business development manager at JE Berkowitz LP in Pedricktown, N.J.

 “I was at the Hyatt Hotel at the Pittsburgh Airport for a meeting. The immediate effect was on our deliveries to the Metro NYC area; initially impossible to get into NYC, then we experienced long delays as truck had to be inspected prior to entering NYC.”

Lyle Hill, former president of MTH Industries in Chicago and USGNN.com™ blogger

 “It was going to be a truly wonderful day. I had donated an insulating unit to replace a broken skylight at a small church in Brookfield, Ill., and volunteered my son Patrick and myself for the actual installation. The weather was perfect and I have always enjoyed working with my son on these types of things. There would be a little bit of climbing and lifting involved but there would be some laughs and the good feeling that comes with doing something nice for someone else. A good lunch at one of our favorite places was to follow wherein Patrick would no doubt complain about having to do all the work but would further state that as long as I paid for the meal all would be forgiven.

 “I left home to pick up Pat just a minute or two after the first plane had hit the towers. The news report suggested that it was an accident of some type and offered no further details. By the time Pat and I arrived at the jobsite, the second plane had hit, and the news reports were suggesting that it might be a coordinated terrorist attack. Confused and concerned, we unloaded the glass and equipment and went to work.

 “We were on the roof of the church just finishing up the job when a lady who lived next door came running out of her house crying and screaming about all of the people who had died. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. Then the church’s minister … who had been in his office while we were on the roof working … appeared and told us that the towers had collapsed and that thousands had been killed. He was crying.

 “We cleaned up and headed for home. We didn’t stop for lunch. We’d lost our appetites.”

Paul Bieber, USGlass columnist and USGNN.com™ blogger

 “9/11 impacted our entire company. Everybody knew someone who was involved. We gave people time to talk.

“Business changed in many ways. There was an immediate need for repair and replacement. We quickly sold quite a bit of annealed glass for storefronts about 10 blocks from Ground Zero. Everyone wanted their glass right away. The factories, the floaters, PPG and LOF, cooperated with us very well. The community of the glass workers all understood the significance of the event. Even though everyone wanted their glass instantly, they all understood if we couldn’t deliver on time. We worked 24 hours a day for two-to-three weeks. There was a lot of broken glass in the area. People were walking around in a daze. It took a long time for people to understand that this had happened. We could’ve raised our prices, but we absolutely didn’t. Many competitors ran out of supplies. We didn’t run out of glass, because we had good suppliers. There were people who couldn’t pay us, so we extended credit to everybody. The impact was more emotional.

 “There were no glass shops right in the blast zone. So, there were no direct deaths that I’m aware of.”

Ed Turner, sales representative at Hawkins Glass Wholesalers in Stafford, Va.

“I was in my vehicle driving into the D.C. area. I’d heard about the WTC planes in a phone conversation, but didn’t know the severity of it. Then in the car I heard on the radio about the plane hitting the Pentagon. Immediately, I thought about my daughter who was in school near the Quantico Marine Corp. base. So, I turned around, and went to get her. When I got near Quantico, it was very busy, and security was very high around the base, and it remained so in the subsequent weeks. I picked her up and headed back home.”

Steve Bouchard, president of Glass Distributors Inc. in Bladensburg, Md.

When the plane hit the Pentagon, I was getting ready for a staff meeting. I had purchased the company in May 2001, and was getting ready to meet my new staff. My sales analyst came in and said that the planes had hit the WTC. We turned the TV on and watched the second plane hit the towers. Then we heard about the plane in D.C. We cancelled the meeting, and were worried about our truck drivers. We were scared. I drove by the Pentagon later in the afternoon, around 6:30 p.m., and saw the plane still smoldering.

“My wife works in D.C., and it took her a couple of hours to go 6 miles.

“One of my son’s basketball coaches is a policeman at the Pentagon, and he was one of the first people to go in and pull people out of the wreckage.”

Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management at Guardian Industries of Auburn Hills, Mich.

“9/11 is seared in my memory just like most folks. That's because every Tuesday morning for nearly three years I was on the 7:08 a.m. flight from Dulles to LaGuardia. Except that Tuesday morning I had a dentist appointment and didn't get on the flight. Colleagues, friends and family frantically tried to reach me when the news broke but telephone circuits were overloaded in both cities. I worked at Siemens in those days and the colleagues there were evacuated from the upper floors of the Citicorp building at 53rd and Third so I couldn't reach them either. We had people in our Building Technologies division working in the WTC so their safety was on everyone's minds immediately. Then D.C. started getting hit and the Eastern Seaboard ducked for cover. I couldn't get to New York until later in the week and then by Amtrak train. A power failure or scare (it was never clear) caused us to travel the distance slowly w/o lights and we ended at Penn Station in the middle of the night, in an eerily under lighted Midtown Manhattan. In fact, looking up Fifth Avenue were pockets of flickering lights, casting an otherworldly glow. It was a relief to discover that they were beacons of hope and honor - shrines to firefighters and other early responders made out of towers of candles, New Yorkers huddled around in silence. For months, there wasn't much to say in the city.”

Deb Levy, publisher of USGlass Magazine and USGNN.com™ blogger

"I have a lot of memories seared upon my brain from that day but I will share just one. I was in Minneapolis Hyatt at an AGRSS Council meeting with about 40 people from around the country when the cell phones started to go and it became apparent we were under attack. We took a break and went down to a very little TV that people had gathered around in the convenience store on the ground floor. I knew my brother, a New York City firefighter, was working that day but I didn’t know the time of his shift, though the TV said that all of FDNY had been called in. I looked up at the TV an instant before the first tower fell. It took about 30 seconds for my brain to register what I might have been watching and that he might have been there. I felt my whole body sway and my knees buckled as I fell down on them.

"We didn’t know for many hours if he was okay—it was impossible to get through by phone. Eventually family friends from Spain were able to reach my brother, find out he was fine, and then call back to the States to notify all of us—even my parents who were just a few miles from him—that he was all right.

"Today my brother is an FDNY lieutenant. Like many other firefighters who worked the pile, he is plagued by sinus and respiratory issues he didn’t have before. I hate what he had to go through but am happy he is here to talk about it.

"My brother is also an award winning photographer who always has his camera with him. It was with him on 9/11. He said he was a full 15 blocks away when he decided he would never take a single shot because, as he said, 'I don’t want to remember any of this.'”

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