It’s impossible to forget where we were and what we were feeling the day the planes hit. On the other hand, the day before is now a hazy memory — what were the topics that occupied our attention then? Here are a few of the things that seemed important to us until that terrible morning when everything changed…
• The political career of Representative Gary Condit was slowly evaporating. There were allegations that he had been involved in an extramarital affair with a young intern named Chandra Levy, who was missing. Rumors and gossip linked Condit to her disappearance. He was eventually exonerated, but by then had lost his congressional seat.
• The #1 movie on 9/10/01 was “The Musketeer”; “Rush Hour 2” and “American Pie 2” were still going strong at the box office.
• The National Transportation Safety Board announced its preliminary findings in the plane crash that killed 22-year-old singer Aaliyah. The plane, they said, had been “significantly overloaded”.
• A headline in the New York Times September 10th issue read “Fear of Recession Ignites Discussion of Tax Cuts”. Among other things, the article stated that “For the administration and Congress, the question is how to reconcile their growing interest in tax cuts or spending increases — the traditional responses to a flagging economy — with their pledge not to touch the portion of the budget surplus generated by Social Security.”
• The Los Angeles Times had coverage of a 4.2 earthquake that hit around 5 p.m. on September 9th, causing panic at the Beverly Center, an upscale shopping mall.
• News media were reporting the exploits of baseball slugger Barry Bonds, who had clubbed three home runs on 9/9, on his way to a record 73 that season. The ones he hit against the Colorado Rockies were homers #61, 62 and 63.
• Just before dawn on September 9th, an abandoned newborn was found in New York’s Central Park, with umbilical cord and placenta still attached.
• The Emmy Awards were scheduled for the following Sunday, September 16th. The nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series were Will & Grace, Malcolm in the Middle, Sex and the City, Everybody Loves Raymond and Frasier.
That event was among the reasons that our friends Lynn and David Angell were headed back to Los Angeles from Cape Cod: David was co-creator and executive producer of Frasier. We had known each other for a long time — we met when Lynn was the librarian at the school our kids attended, and Dave got dragged along to school-related activities. Later he and I were colleagues, but mainly we were friends.
On September 11, the Angells were aboard American Airlines flight 11. By the time we found an email Lynn had sent to Sally very late the night before, their lives had already ended at the World Trade Center.
Because she had such affection for children, I think it would have pleased Lynn (and Dave, too) to know that the baby abandoned in Central Park survived her ordeal. Her name is Molly, and she’ll be celebrating her 10th birthday this month.