9/11 20 years later: Lenore Permaul, Schenectady – Tears for the Towers

Lenore Permaul in Schenectady
Lenore Permaul in Schenectady

My heart is beating faster when I read of the opportunity to write my experience, of that dreadful day in September.

I always have flashbacks of my experience. But I cannot stop my tears from falling every time 9/11 is mentioned.

I went to work as a housekeeper at Waterside Plaza in Manhattan from Queens (Astoria). A neighbor knocked on the door and said, “Turn on the TV.” I did not.

He came the second time crying hysterically, saying “They bring the towers down, they bring the towers down.”

I saw men at NYU covered in dust. That day I followed the crowd and walked the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway). I saw bleeding feet, I saw stocking feet, people were crying. So was I, but when I hear “Amazing Grace” coming from somewhere, I cried louder.

Almost a hundred yards away, I see on a certain doorway someone handing out bottles of water.

I don’t know where everyone was going. But all I know is we have to get out of Manhattan. I don’t know how long I’ve been walking, but I head for that door for some water. By the time I reach the door they were giving half a cup of water. I wash my face with some and was sipping the rest when my tears start to flow.

It came to me at that time that my sisters worked nearby the towers. I start to sob, when I think about my two children, one in PS 92 and one to start a new job. I was crying when I hear some shouting that the train will be running.

I said, “No, not me,” if I have to die let me die on the ground, not underground. I have no idea what time it was, nor where I was. Then a bus came by and stopped.

The driver was crying. People flocked around. He opened the door and spoke calmly, still sobbing. He said all the buses are coming, that no one will be left on the road. Also, the trains will be running.

The bus driver has a cheesecloth on his face and one hand covering the card slot. In that bus, no one spoke. We were all crying. The driver stopped at every stop and some in between.

When I got to PS 92 and see my two children I didn’t cry, I bawl. We went home.

For three days, I lay on the floor in front of the TV. I don’t get up to eat until my daughter threatens to call 911.

So many years have passed. I still cry, my tears would just roll down. One of my sisters always tell me how she would like to see me on that bridge again — jokingly.

What happened that day has left a pain in me that nothing will erase.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to tell what I encounter that day.

And I am hoping that by telling it, somehow I will heal.

This took me eight days to write because my tears keep falling.

-Lenore Permaul, Schenectady

More Remembrances: We remember; The Daily Gazette’s special Sept. 11 anniversary section 


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Categories: 9/11 20 Years Later, Life and Arts


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