Column 1: Where were you

Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

WHERE WERE YOU when the twin towers in New York City came crashing down? What were you doing? Seventeen years ago this past week, was a day that everyone remembers; but what other memories? How did you hear the horror that was unfolding at the hands of terrorists?

For us the news came at about 7:15 a.m. via a phone call from our son, Rick, who asked, “Dad, are you watching TV?” From a sound sleep after arriving home from a Europe trip the night before, my answer was quite civil. “No, I was sleeping.” “Turn it on quickly.” From that moment a constant viewing of the disaster ensued for days, still something which our eyes saw, but minds could not comprehend.

Our luggage had not arrived with our flight from Frankfurt to SFO on 9/10 at about 4:30. We were told it would be sent to our home when it did arrive. At about 9:00 a.m. on 9/11 a small lady arrived in a pickup with one of our two large bags. Second bag did not make it from Europe before all airlines were grounded. However, it did arrive seven days later from Liepzig, a place we had not visited on our trip.

Things that one thinks about in such a situation? We were very glad that we arrived at SFO late on 9/10 and were not turned around in= flight with no luggage or clothes. Medications we did have in carry-ons, a must when traveling. Better to be frumpy-looking than unhealthy.

Stories abound about 9/11 beyond the graphics of the devastation at the time of the attacks. We heard a hair-raiser a couple years later on a trip in visiting with a couple from Chicago. Their story causes shudders.

While vacationing in NYC, they decided to have breakfast at the top of one of the towers. They made reservations for 8:30 a.m. They overslept, so they made reservations for lunch at the same place. What’s the old saying….someone was watching over them?

An author-lecturer we met several years ago was scheduled to lecture to a group of business people at 9:00 a.m. in one of the towers up high. He was preparing his material when sounds began reaching his ears; sounds that did not seem right. At that point he ‘dismissed’ the group and everyone headed down the stairs, as the elevators were already jammed with others who felt it was time to leave. He hit the streets and joined hundreds of others running from the crashing buildings and the cloud of smoke and ash hurdling behind them. He discovered a bar along the way, dashed inside and closed the door behind him as he and others decided to huddle together away from the chaos in the streets.

SOME THINGS to just think about; sort of a recall of history lesson as you recall the where you were and how did you hear about…the shooting starting in the Gulf War? The assassination of JFK 1963; start of Korean war in 1950; attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 (too young?). Time does fly, does it not? And, unfortunately, dates and details of important events in our history become dim or forgotten.

HISTORY is being made daily with the happenings in our nation’s capital, much of it very unsettling; much of it the likes of which we have not experienced ever, historians tell us. Hopefully we will not experience such again, if we can pull ourselves back together this time.

ON THE POSITIVE side of things, were you watching “Jeopardy” recently during the Teachers’ Tournament when a middle-aged gentleman, who has taught Second Grade his entire career, won the $100,000 prize? What a thrill for him. What fun for us as we watched the competition among teachers from many grades and topics. Second grade???

SCHOOL HOURS are suddenly a state-wide issue which is baloney.These issues should be decisions for the local school districts to make, in our humble opinion, of course! The few minutes being discussed will be spent on computers, iPhones, Facebook, or whatever. Older (?) kids will continue to spend their time at home as they see fit (unless parents do their thing and provide direction.) In our days at Alhambra, we always felt we had to start school too early. As I recall, school began at 8:40, and closed at 3:26. Strange times, but they met the minutes for a “day” for state school funding. That, for those who can remember, is why they wanted us to be in the classroom EVERY day, no good excuses. The school district needed, and still does, the ADA revenue.

Parents often had struggles to get some of us out of bed listening to phony reasons. Headaches, tummy aches, too tired, etc. (As you, Dear Reader, surely recall yourselves as ‘the actor’ in these scenes!)

For the sake of good local governmental control, should we not leave such issues to local school districts? This old grump feels like we need more hours in the school day, not less. Our children should get all the education time possible. History is telling us we are falling behind the rest of the world in education. Something we cannot afford to do.

I am certain that the Martinez Education Association will not be pleased with my thoughts. However, do we want our students to stand behind many others in the success of others’ future citizens? Hope not!!!

WHO THOUGHT Measure I issues were behind us? Looks like there are ‘things’ out there still to be resolved? More wrangling?

CHEERS to Councilmember Gipner for her detailed article on Measure X, an issue very meaningful to the City of Martinez and residents.

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