You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Jessica DuLong’ tag.

September 11, 2001 was one of those days that changed you. Without a doubt, no matter where you were or what you were doing, you remember that day. We are still in its aftermath.

It recast me too.  That morning I was at work in a Brooklyn three-floor building five miles from the Towers, across the East River. A friend called before 0900 to tell me to look out a west-facing window.  I watched for some seconds, black smoke pouring from near the top of one of the towers. Concluding it must have been an accident, maybe a small plane or a helicopter, I got back to work. Shortly after 0900, the friend called again, frantic, and told of reports that two hijacked planes had crashed into the towers; more hijacked planes were in the air, she said. I returned to the window, and now much more smoke, yellowish gray, blanketed both Towers. For me, the rest of the day was a blur, inconceivable sights in the distance across the river, swirling rumors of horrors.

We all have our take on that morning, even hundreds and thousands of miles from lower Manhattan. Mostly I don’t talk about 9/11 much, and I’ve not yet gone to the museum located there now, likely I’ll never go. I’ve mostly avoided reading about that day although I have read widely about the wars it spawned.

I made an exception when I was asked to review Jessica Dulong’s Saved at the Seawall, a re-issued version, paperback. In a preface added to this version, DuLong writes that “only after years of avoiding conversation about my time at Ground Zero did I finally make my peace with the human need for September 11 stories. Chronicling catastrophe necessarily creates a distance, a remove.”

She interviewed at least 75 people who were involved in the immediate aftermath, some on the island but many more at the seawall and farther out in the harbor, the sixth boro, on boats.  A list names all the boats that evacuated hundreds of thousands of people from lower Manhattan, but her book chronicles what occurred from the perspective of rescuer and rescued alike.

Flipping through pages as I write this review, I notice that 150 pages into the book, she’s recounting events not even two full hours after the first plane hit. The details are palpable, and told with skill.

In the epilogue, DuLong states that reflecting on rescuers that day has “reconstructed my faith in the human soul.” Their acts “struck me less about heroism and more about pragmatism, resourcefulness, and simple human decency. If you have the wherewithal, you step up.”  I’d see it as a variation on the international code, written and unwritten, that mariners have a duty to rescue those in distress at sea;  in this case, when the USCG issued a call to “all available boats,” mariners in the harbor responded and rescued people in distress on an island in distress.

I’m grateful Jessica DuLong interviewed the folks in this book, recorded their experience before memory could distort it, and then meticulously reconstructed that morning from dozens of perspectives. I was especially surprised to see a half dozen people I know interviewed in the book, people whom I’ve never heard talk about that day.

I highly recommend reading this book.  You can order it from the publisher here.

Previous book reviews can be seen here.

If you want the International Red Cross view on this, click here.

 

A truckable tug named Mame Faye and her tow anchor outside the current near the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers.  Idyllic . . .  serene, sleepy upstate river banks .  . . eh?  She’ll be back.

aatd

Here tugs Empire and Shenandoah tie up on the opposite bank of Mame Faye and along the bulkhead.

aatd2

Farther east is The Chancellor, with twin stacks arranged longitudinally.

aatd3

Still farther east inside LehighValley Barge 79, speakers like Jessica DuLong and Don Sutherland mesmerize with their tales and chronicles of the river.

aatd4

Captains Bill and Pam park their powerful machines to rest and enjoy the quiet of oars moving in and out of the fresh water.

aatd5

Rain showers come and go and no one cares.  Lined up behind Empire are Little Bitt, Gowanus Bay, Benjamin Elliott, and Margot. It’s another lazy day at the Roundup.

aatd7

What’s this on the foredeck of Bill’s Eighth Sea?  Looks like PVC, hairspray, and  . . . radishes?

aatdx

And Captain Fred has gotten involved.  This looks  . . .

aatdxx

ominous, especially after he went to the supermarket for 50-calibre radishes, the most lethal kind.

aatdx2As dusk falls,  that same Captain Bill boards Mame Faye to maneuver the barge into the middle of the stream, which is now closed to traffic, for it will soon be time to

aatd8

see the scene change and

How to describe that:  part night harbor scene, rock concert, traffic jam, railroad crossing, cacophony, simulated war zone, kaleidoscope, popcorn popper, video game, confetti, aquatic bioluminescence gone wild, volcano, apocalypse .  . .   Oh, and I’ve always preferred seeing the flashes reflect in water to seeing them in air.

Now who do you suppose Mame Faye was?  Elizabeth toots Mame‘s horn here.

All fotos and video by Will Van Dorp.

Unrelated . . .  the Dutch barge flotilla probably moves through the Hudson Highlands and northward today;  if you get good fotos and want to share, email me.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,489 other followers

If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.

Archives

September 2021
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930