OR loves NY

My mom's cousins (left to right) Bev, Bonnie, and Ruth are visiting NYC on the fifth anniversary of the Oregon loves New York trip, just a month after 9/11/01. Ruth was on that trip and fell in love with the city, even during its season of mourning. So she brought her sisters along on this trip. 

Bev stayed with my grandparents while she was in college, so she had stories about them I'd never heard. What a delight.

After 9/11 there was a fear and depression over us all. I remember one day a bus let the air out of its Jake brake. It makes a loud sound, I’m sure most of us have heard at some point, but days after 9/11 it startled a woman so much that she leapt into the air with a scream of panic. We were all on edge. 

I kept an office at the Helen Hayes Theatre at the time. It was an old dressing room that gave me just enough room for my props and costumes and a desk. On Thursday, 9/13/01, the theatre was evacuated because it was in the shadow of the Viacom Building, which had received a bomb threat. I left a message for my wife, Joyce, who was working for Business Week at the time. I remember that I hadn’t had a cell phone for very long, so I was very excited that she could actually call me back on my walk home, in case she was sent home and wanted to join me. As I walked up to the McGraw-Hill Building, where she worked on the 57th floor, I saw people looking up! Someone across the street had seen smoke coming out of the building. I finally got ahold of Joyce and found out that there had been a kitchen fire in the restaurant at ground level, but their exhaust pipe exited the building several floors up. Joyce had kept her cool and prevented those who reported to her from panicking and exiting the building needlessly. 

Just before 9/11 I had my office at The Lamb’s Theatre, which was designed by Stamford White and had been the home to The Lamb’s Club, the oldest actors club in the world. The Church of the Nazarene owned the building, and they entered into a 99-year lease with a hotelier. That prompted me to move offices earlier in 2001, and then 9/11 put a halt to renovating the theatre into a boutique hotel. They stopped, thinking, "Who would want to visit a high-priced hotel in the middle of a city that was just attacked?" 


Their visit brought more hope than they can possibly know! I’m sure they saved buildings that were on the brink of bankruptcy! And they infused joy into the bleak landscape of our beloved city.


Dave Almgren said...

Rich - thanks for showing the Oregon girls around Manhattan. Bev is my mother in Law and she had a wonderful time.

She mentioned the Eric Liddel play that you are working on - sounds great. She mentioned that you are looking at this project as a feature film. Do you have anything in the works for future production?

Dave Almgren

Rich Swingle said...

Writing in 2021, the play is now available to watch online at www.RichDrama.com/BtC, but, sadly, my collaborator on the film project now has dementia, so we're stalled on that.