~9-11 / MY STORY . . .

on the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attack, here’s my story.

and, yes !!
a quilt can very much ‘turn over’ with the same significance . . of a tarot card !!
you better – believe it.
there’s some, deep dark magic . . in them there / old quilts.

after our landlord bought us out, from the storefront on Rivington St. & the Bowery, in 1996 we moved to help ‘warehouse’ a one bedroom / penthouse apt on the top of a 20 story building on Grand & FDR – in the Lower East Side. it even had this really nice, but tiny narrow terrace – that opened up to the outdoors.

and, yes. that’s my watercolor !!

the place had a great view of the East River, and the railing was perfect – for hanging out my vintage quilts in the sun, as I worked on them, to repair them / restore, and make them alive again.
this was 20+ years ago, btw.

facing due south, you could even see . . .

. . . the World Trade Center, towers.

but. because the terrace was so narrow, you had to really contort your body to get a decent view of a quilt / against the Twin Towers, so I only did it once.
in the Spring of 1999. this is NO . . photo-shop.
this is a 35mm photo & I have the negatives to prove it.

here, it is in full view / it was a ‘barn’ quilt, an old, raggedy quilt that had finally been relegated to the last step / to cover old machinery in a barn.
you can note the holes and worn areas, especially on the borders, and these are what I repair.
as well, in this case I fully re-quilted this old faded beauty, with all repairs done by hand.
I only hand-stitch, I don’t even know – how to operate a sewing machine.
I couldn’t use one – even if my life depended on it.
and of course, working by hand, gets your very up-close & personal with the history of each quilt, and, each quilt maker.

so of course, while working on it . . I started to research – its history and pattern.

LO, and behold !!
turns out, it’s an old American frontier / pioneer . . . pattern called: “Lightning Strikes”.
it was a reminder to be super careful especially around the wooden barns, regarding fire, and in the wooden homes, whose only warmth came from burning hearth fires / and especially on the prairies, to be vigilant also re: wild fires.
and, in being a reminder: it was a warning, to be conscious / to stay aware, and being aware – you will feel safe, and you are wished comfort, warmth, and safety by the quilt maker / who is probably your mother, wife, or sister . . . as you lay asleep, and dream your dreams.

so . . .
what 800 number are you going to call, when your quilt project divines: danger, a threat of fire, a deadly . . . lightning strike ?

so yeah, less than 16 months later, I watched this tragedy unfold from the same birds-eye-view of my 20th floor terrace. I came running out upon hearing the terrible first impact, and I actually even watched as the 2nd plane come north up the East River, and then made a sharp u-turn, and at full speed flew directly – into the second tower.
so, while the clueless TV anchors were proclaiming, that a small airplane, or helicopter, had ‘accidentally’ collided with the World Trade Center, I was calling my kid’s middle school, and telling the principal, not to let the kids out for recess – because . . . “we are under attack”.
at first, she thought I was just plain dang crazy, but not for long, like maybe 5 – 10 minutes at the most, later / and, the whole city was in . . lock-down.
and shock. it was unbelievable.

I hadn’t even had – my morning coffee yet. I felt so ill, and so aware of: history.
I do still remember so vividly, thinking . . how did it even come to pass, that I – as a Canadian, who grew up in Montreal, had came to be here, to witness this ?
that all this time / quite unknowingly, I had been stitching, & putting hands to – a real warning.

when my kids finally got home, we actually had to go get them in person / this is what they saw.

and then, it was . . . gone.
along, with the many people inside, & the sadly fated first responders – who had rushed in, to save them, only to perish as well.
the worst part was when the buildings pancaked / and you heard millions of screams, like many birds in panic – for a few minutes / and then: complete silence, and a horrible, horrible smell of burnt human flesh, that hovered overhead, for days.