Lenore Permaul remembers her surreal walk out of Manhattan on the BQE, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
It was morning, Sept. 11, 2001, and America was under attack.
“I have no idea what time it was, nor where I was. Then a bus came by and stopped,” said Permaul, who worked in Manhattan 20 years ago but now lives in Schenectady. “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,” Permaul also said. “In that bus, no one spoke. We were all crying.”
Scotia’s Michael Collins smelled the smoke from the burning World Trade Center.
“Crossing Manhattan, we got a whiff of the smoke coming from ground zero,” said Collins, who was in the air that day as a member of the New York State Police Aviation Unit. “It was an ungodly amalgam of steel, plastic, cement, rubber and elements I would guess could be found in the second circle of Hell.”
Thomas and Katherine Miller were aboard Singapore Airlines Flight 26, which earlier had left Frankfurt bound for New York City.
“After many hours of flying, the sun had risen even west of the Atlantic, and the seat back monitors showed the plane over the eastern tip of Long Island, when suddenly the plane made a sharp right-angle turn toward the north,” said Thomas Miller, who lives in Niskayuna. “After a few minutes, the pilot came on to say, “We’ve been directed to find an airport in Canada. U.S. airspace has been closed. Something about a terrorist attack.”
All three have kept their vivid memories of one of the worst days in American history — the day when four teams of armed men shattered the calm of a late-summer morning.
As part of our observance of the Sept. 11 anniversary, readers were asked to submit their personal recollections, reactions and reflections of that Tuesday back in time — and how the attacks affected them.
Their stories are below.
- Schenectady: Donald DeFilippo – Showing ‘respect and sorrow’
- Schenectady: Faith Gifford – ‘All those people’
- Schenectady: Diane Sanders Hombach – Frantic while awaiting word
- Schenectady: Lenore Permaul, Schenectady – Tears for the Towers
- Niskayuna: Angela Marczewski – Simply stunned
- Niskayuna: Thomas Miller – On the way home, a detour
- Niskayuna: Robin Van Luik – With great sadness
- Rotterdam: Charles M. Amoroso – The call of duty
- Rotterdam: Oliva Sheldon – Disbelief
- Scotia: Michael Collins – Mission in the air
- Scotia: Margaret ‘Midge’ Launsbach – Love will conquer hate
- Scotia: Christine Witkowski – ‘Blissfully unaware’ then reality
- Glenville: Christine Gryscavage – Recognized name
- Glenville: Richard Nebolini – Our brother firefighters
- Delanson: Camille Crandall – ‘A sick feeling’
- Burnt Hills: Ray Simboli – A matter of timing
- Ballston Spa: Patricia Bowers – Confused, devastated … numb
- Ballston Lake: Joe Bialobzeski – Canadian connection
- Clifton Park: Patrice O’Connor – Clear blue sky, thick black smoke
- Clifton Park: Cheryl Greskowiak – Decades later, horrific images still fresh
- Mechanicville: Dolores Van Detta – A prayer for all
- Middle Grove: Carol A. Armitage – Tragedy
- Amsterdam: Christine Andrzejewski – Concern for loved ones
- Amsterdam: Michael Bubniak – Fear and anxiety
- Amsterdam: Paul Hans – Sorrow … then joy
- Amsterdam: Robert Von Hasseln – Status: Ready
- Johnstown: Thomas J. Farnan – Chasing innocence
- Northville: Gerald Bubniak – Mesmerized
- Ephratah: Laura Bellinger – ‘Thought it was beginning of World War III’
- Colonie: Joseph Slomka – ‘We realized this was no accident’
- Latham: Roger M. Fucilli – Shining through