Tuesday, September 13

Memories of 9/11

On the corner of 7th avenue and 11th street sits a very organic memorial to 9/11 victims, New York and the U.S. as whole. Hand painted pictures of hearts, the towers, doves and iconic slogans like “United We Stand” adorn tiles that cover the majority of fenced lot . Saturday and Sunday volunteers handed tiles to passing pedestrians inviting anyone who wished to hang one.

Amongst the volunteers was Frank Crapanzano, 77 years old and a resident of Greenwich Village for the past 47 years. A self-described “creature-of-habit” Frank recalls that on this day ten years ago he began his day like any other. “Every day I go across the street. There’s a Korean Deli and I grab the New York Times and a banana.”  Crossing 7th avenue Frank remembers he saw smoke coming from the World Trade Center but thought little of it. “ I was naive, it didn’t look intense then, in retrospect it probably was,” he recalls.

“From 9/11 on everything changed instantly. My life and everyone else’s life; People’s consciousness was raised.” Crapanzano continues. “ Within tragedy they always say that there is a gift, and that was the gift, it put everyone together.”

Sometime after September 11th an old friend invited Frank to be part of a volunteer group that would go down to ground zero and support the efforts of firemen, police officers and other volunteers by becoming servers at a diner that stayed open 24hours a day and provided meals to those who wanted them. “Generators kept the place running. I took a shift from 4pm till 12 at night I worked. Brooke Shields came down, Candice Bergen,” he reflects.

“It was the most bizarre, surreal, but interesting thing I‘d ever done in my life cuz’ I met firemen from all over the world, policemen and volunteers, and there was a feeling I had not experienced since World War II. A feeling of unity, you don’t feel that now. Everyone spoke to everyone,” here Crapanzano pauses, a small smile crosses his face.

“In New York we’re so trendy, 9/11 is old hat...It’s not for the people who lost people and it never will be. I’m not trying to be negative ya know’. Look at the media; the hurricane was on for five days. It was like the whole world disappeared, what about now? No one cares all those people that got flooded out. It’s like NEXT! Give me the next story; but that’s the way New York is. “

“New Yorkers are so resilient. I mean we have had our share of everything and we just go on...If you can’t take it then don’t stay here this is not a place to relax, this is a place where you learn how to deal and that line from “New York New York “ ‘If I can make it here I can make it anywhere’ is absolutely truth; it means if you can survive here you can survive anywhere in the world because New York is a litmus test everyday,” Frank concludes. 

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