it’s that little souvenir of a terrible year


Found while cleaning up Eudora email mailboxes this evening – folder entitled “move to inbox sep 01.” Out of hundreds of emails, some excerpts below:


Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 01:08:24 -0500

From: “Southwest Airlines”

To: Ian

Subject: Weekly Internet Specials September 11, 2001

Southwest Airlines e-mail update for

September 11, 2001

Baltimore Washington Int’l, MD

$30 one-way, to/from Albany, NY

$30 one-way, to/from Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY

$30 one-way, to/from Cleveland, OH

$30 one-way, to/from Columbus, OH

$30 one-way, to/from Hartford, CT/Springfield, MA

$30 one-way, to/from Long Island/Islip, NY

Dallas Love Field, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Amarillo, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Austin, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Houston Bush Intercontinental, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Midland/Odessa, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Oklahoma City, OK


From: Steve Williams

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Linda Williams, Michelle Williams,

Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordana

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:15:07 -0700

Subject: Hope everybody’s okay

I’d welcome a message from each of the New Yorkers. Looks pretty grim on the TV.


From: R. T.

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 13:27:58 EDT


Forgive me for using this impersonal email address, but it’s the only one that I have mass emailing privileges from at the moment.

It seems inconceivable that last night’s show ended just hours and a few blocks from the disaster. Yes, thanks to everyone who has emailed. I am safe and fine.


From: “A. W.”

Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 21:36:58 -0400

To: I.W.

Subject: Re: all ok


Great to hear you and Tessa are OK as well. I’ll fill you in on details later, but we were uncomfortably close to WTC when the second tower fell-had to go down to lower Tribeca to check on sick friend. Sound was like deafening jet roar/bomb detonation, felt like earthquake, was screaming at W and Amy to run as massive cloud of debris and smoke moved like a freight train behind us up Hudson Street. We’re OK, hanging at friend’s place in East Village right now, staying with other friend’s in Nolita tonight. Can’t go back to Tribeca as police have whole place blocked off. Let me know about Jamie Block.


From: Steve Williams

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Linda Williams, Michelle Williams

Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordana

Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 09:01:51 -0700

Subject: Speculation about Mom’s plans

Mom, any updates?

Anyway, I don’t think it’d make much sense to try to get back to the U.S. early, as it’ll be some time before the airports are back to normal. A week might just be a good amount of time to wait, assuming things remain calm in Ukraine and Austria. There are no new travel warnings for either country yet.

It looks like yesterday’s shutdown of all airports (including general aviation) has removed any further immediate threat to us here in the U.S. And when the airports open, the security will be very, very tight. There will be no curbside check-in and most hand luggage will be physically searched, I think. Soon, multiple IDs and multiple ID checks will be required, and despite the civil liberty issues, I think a system of automated background checks on all airlines passengers will soon be in place.


From: Michelle Williams

Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 00:03:17 -0400

To: Sean, Ian,

Linda, Steve,

Kent, tessa, jordi

Hello to all-

I’m sending the following email to everyone, mostly to let everyone know that I and mine are okay. Even as the bomb scare hits the Empire State Building. This feels like it may never end…

People all over the streets, just wandering because nothing is open and there is nowhere to go and if we are inside we will just watch it over and over and over. It will never get old. As we are walking to one of two restaurants open in that part of the village, there is a child yelling. Nothing specific, just yelling, and his Dad is sort of pulling him along by the hand and we hear the little boy say, or rather almost scream “I just can’t stop yelling”…

Ian and Tessa and another of her friends showed up in the early afternoon yesterday and helped organize a trip to Belleview where there were hundreds waiting in line with pictures of their missing friends and family. Most of them were numb and calm, a few just haunted, and one woman I saw looked as though she had always been crying, and always would. Ian had an enormous box of Wendy’s salads and I was carrying a literal bucket of dressing (donated by the deli across the way, with no questions asked) and I heard him say “my sister has the dressing” as he passed out the greens…


From: Tessa

Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 03:56:25 EDT

Subject: day 2, 3, 4

To: Sandy, Ian, Sean, Michelle, Linda, Kent, Steve, Jordi, mastro, Jessica, nell

A fierce storm hit last night. I was standing at Ground Zero under a tarp with 26 police, and 7 firefighters as the rain and wind swayed the buildings around us, when one of the policemen said in a funny, kid-like voice, “I don’t like this. I want to go home.” And he meant it.

And then I saw a firefighter, head bowed, and it seemed like maybe he was crying. I felt almost too reverent to ask if he was okay but then I did, because if I had any real job down there this was as much a part of it as handing out ponchos and making hot coffee. And he said “It’s over. The water… the rain…it’s over.” After a day of false hopes, retractions of reported rescues, the rain came and contributed the same weight as the rubble that had been removed, filled up air pockets that may have sustained people and everyone down there knew what that meant. No more hope. No survivors. Nothing to work toward. Just grief.

I want to end this with something, you know, positive. I don’t want to seem dour or humorless or without perspective. And I want everyone to know that I am taking comfort in friends and family, in our safety and love for each other. I started to do work again today. We are all beginning to talk about other things. I am not bleak. Weirdly, I am not afraid. I have a faith in all sorts of things — in our collective strength, in a wisdom broader than my grasp, in the generosity of this city and this country and the world. But for now, I am sad. So deeply sad…


From: Michelle Williams

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 02:22:18 -0400

To: Sean, Ian,

Linda, Steve,

Kent, tessa, jordi

Thankfully I was KBW at the restaurant tonight, which is the “kitchen back-waiter”, which meant that all I did was cut bread and run food. I talked to almost no one, which was for the best, considering these were the things people were saying:

“I heard you guys were closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday! Are you always closed those days? I was afraid we wouldn’t get in here to eat!”

“This salad is too bitter!” “can I make you a salad with no raddichio? It will be less bitter” “No. When I get a bitter salad in a restaurant I just throw it away.”

and my favorite:

“How come you guys are so slow tonight?”

To which I would have liked to answer, “Well, sir, there’s less people alive tonight. Oh, and a few trying to find their bodies.”

Good thing I wasn’t on the floor.


From: Tessa

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 15:33:09 EDT

Subject: Re: afghan american angle

To: Sandy, Ian, Sean, Michelle, Linda, Kent, Steve, Jordi,

It is hard to hear but easy to imagine all of this being reduced/elevated (?) to cartoon and cinema. It feels like that sometimes here. I tear-up a lot on the street, hearing a story or seeing an image and I am afraid that someone is going to scoff or be perceived by chic uptowners as treacly and earnest. But here, at least downtown, things remain pretty simple and reverent.

We were at out local video store last night and told them that we had a movie out that we rented on Monday and wondered if would it be counted late. But she explained that all the movies out on Tuesday were forgiven in the system and then as we wandered away we realized that all those tapes had been forgiven because hundreds of them would never come back.


Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 15:48:59 -0500 (CDT)

From: Kent williams

To: Tessa

cc: Steve, Ian, Michelle, Sean, Jordi, Mom

While it’s hard, and especially hard for y’all who have been down in the thick of it, to think beyond the immediate, it’s going to become even worse if Bush and Powell go off on a military adventure in Afghanistan, something they’ve all but said out loud they’re going to do. A lot of innocent, good people died tuesday, but it’s only going to be compounded, with terrible interest, if we start a war.

What Dubya shares with Herbert Walker Bush is a complete lack of imagination. They live in a Manichean universe where the only tools in a crises that comes to their minds are things that blow up.


Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 20:40:06 -0500 (CDT)

From: Kent williams

To: Sean Williams

cc: Tessa, Jason, Sandy,

mom, Ian, Jordana

Michelle, Sean, Steve, Nell

Subject: Re: Recovering

Before you all start buying land in Wyoming and stocking up on automatic weapons, maybe everyone needs to chill out a bit.

Strange as it may sound I’m thinking that there’s a slim possibility cooler heads may prevail. I mean I’m no military expert but I’d guess that at least someone in the White House has noticed that we’d be invading a mountainous, barren country, fighting people who did their undergrad work with our finest military minds, and whose PHD dissertation was defeating the entire Soviet Union…

I mean jesus, people thought Somalia was a bitch. This is a bitch with 5 angry boyfriends hopped on meth by comparison. If we put ground troups in Pakistan, they’ll have their hands full just keeping from getting blown up by the local non-combatants.

Even though I’m categorically opposed to any military campaign, no matter how slam-dunk, I have to think that the brain trust in DC aren’t nearly as dumb as they look.


From: Steve Williams

Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 09:31:39 -0700

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Michelle Williams, Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordi

Subject: Kije

Again, I’ve left Mom off this list. Sean agreed to talk to her in person when she gets into New York.

Kije lay in a outdoor pen this morning. The staff at the vet’s had put down a couple of blankets to cushion him, and then thrown another comfy blanket over him. That’s just what I did Friday night when I found him stricken. He was very calm…

But it was time. They brought him on a doggy stretcher into the exam room, and the vet and his helper stood with me, and we all stroked him. After Kije was gone, I stayed a few minutes and burrowed my fingers down through his fur. He was always so warm.

The vet said we can have his ashes. Maybe Mom will want them, I don’t know. The vet removed his collar and gave it to me. I have photos for you all.

So many people have lost so much this week.


From: Tessa

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 02:01:07 EDT

Subject: (no subject)

To: everybody

My father died tonight. It was peaceful and expected. And I feel grateful that he is no longer suffering. But I am, of course, deeply sad. In the face of such endless sadness. Ian and I were walking through the memorial at Union Square Park when I found out and I felt so grateful to be there, swimming in so much sorrow and so much love.

We will drive down to Texas tomorrow. We expect the service to be held on Friday in Houston. If you feel moved to send flowers, I would be so grateful if you made a small donation in his honor to the relief effort instead. Or you could send us your love and support and that would be more than enough.

Thank you all for being such extraordinary friends through what has been a truly difficult year.


From: Ian Williams

Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2001 09:31:39 -0700

To: Ian Williams, Kent Williams,

Michelle Williams, Sean Williams, Tessa, Jordi

Subject: Kije

Since I can no longer afford to eat at Michelle’s restaurant, we had a burger around the corner, then walked into Union Square Park to see the makeshift altar that has become the corner of Broadway and 14th Street. It is truly amazing – thousands of candles, pictures of the missing, signs that vary from heartbreaking to creepy, and enough flowers to staunch the horrible smell that still wafts up from downtown. One row of posters were American flags painted by the third grade class at a local elementary. Written in the white stripes part of the flag (who knew our flag doubled as lined paper?) the kids wrote little sayings that were so wonderful: “I am very sad about the Worlds Trades Centers. I think the terrorist should say their sorry. I felt bad but then I felt good. Because I love the firemen and they rilly rilly brave. I love living in New York City.”


Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 01:05:43 -0500

From: “Southwest Airlines”

To: Ian

Subject: Promotional and Anniversary Specials for September 25, 2001

A message from the Employees of Southwest Airlines:


We salute the American Spirit.

We pledge our allegiance to the flag.

We will stand with our fellow airlines.

We vow to continue.

We will keep America flying.

Southwest Airlines Weekly E-mail Update for

September 25, 2001

Albany, NY

$30 one-way, to/from Baltimore Washington Int’l, MD

Austin, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Dallas Love Field, TX

$30 one-way, to/from Houston Hobby, TX


0 thoughts on “it’s that little souvenir of a terrible year

  1. CP

    just back from the movies, about to go bed, read this…
    what an awful day. can’t believe it was almost 5 years ago. I remember watching the second tower fall from lower 5th avenue, then turning towards the empire state building, wondering if that was perhaps next. I went home to rachel, with whom I was living at the time. we watched news, got in touch with family members, hid with our little dog in our little closet when we heard fighter jets screaming over manhattan, not knowing what they were. later that afternoon we realized we hadn’t eaten anything and were hungry so I made eggs. we then went outside and watched people walk home in silence.
    we had sex and nightmares that night.

  2. Anne

    These were very powerful.
    Even though I was in RI, not NYC, I have saved my e-mails from that day because they are so visceral. I’m sure others have, too.
    CP: sex and nightmares = love and death?

  3. Chris M

    By chance…today the NYC Law Department is releasing recordings of 911 phone calls from Sept 11 to the media, pursuant to court order. When you turn on the news this weekend, be prepared to hear the voices of people on the high floors of the towers.

  4. CL

    Those are incredible and very powerful to read. Save them forever.
    I love the beginning and end of it with the flight specials, too.
    I think a lot of people probably *didn’t* save e-mails from that day because it was still a time when not everyone was on e-mail (although many were).
    I remember a guy called me at work that day about two hours after the tragedy and asked if I’d gotten his resume. I was like, “ARE YOU INSANE!??!!”

  5. suzanne

    Wow. Just as I was heading into a moment of self absorption, a bit of perspective. Thanks for sharing those emails Ian.

  6. Chris M

    correction: The 911 tapes released to media will only have voices of 911 operators or emergency personnel. The voices of callers and their names have been redacted for privacy reasons.

  7. TDSUNC92

    poignant post, but i find it absolutely interesting that there has been absolutely no commentary on the duke lacrosse team situation. forgive me if i’m wrong …

  8. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Hey, I am the third Laurie to post today. : ) As a kid, I did not know anyone else named Laurie, and here we are EVERYWHERE.
    Very touching post, Ian. The Kije story made me cry. I might dive into the other email link you referenced, but I know that I could easily spend hours reading them. . .
    Btw, I still think of life as divided into two time periods: pre-9/11 and post-9/11. Even more so than pre-baby and post-baby. Anyone else?

  9. mcf

    agree-truly powerful, life-changing stuff… sadly, i’m one of the ones sans email threads to refer to, as our computer network was defunct for days on end… i have, however, a stack of loose-leaf paper, and the nyc daily papers for the period directly afterward, that reflects the goings on in the days and weeks following from my part of the world — all housed in a plain brown packing box i can see from my desk right now, but i havent opened since i packed it. [i was working in ny state govt based in nyc… ]
    i remember hours after the towers falling someone [who is now a well-known elected] saying, as part of a conversation about where we could give blood: “no one could have survived that. they are all dead.” and i thot: what a mean-spirited thing to say. but he was right.
    i spent some time in the armory with victims’ families, all so full of hope their pictured brother, sister, mother, father, child would be found… ill never forget those frantically-papered postings with smiling photos and detailed descriptions of loved ones [now] lost… and the few people who came to our office BEGGING us to DO SOMETHING to help them find their “person” — of course, we were helpless to do anything “more” than what was already being done… i also spent a lot of time down at GZ… the images of which will haunt me until im gone from this earth… and the funerals… so many funerals… each one as horrific as the next… and i never got to the point where i was numb to the overwhelming sadness of seeing a wife and children desperately grasping that red white and blue flag… or a fireman’s cap… at least i dont think i lost the emotion… or maybe i did…? and i cried each time i heard the bagpipes… i still get a glitch in my throat when i hear them now… it was surreal then, as it is surreal to reflect upon now.
    and… i didnt realize tessa’s dad died in the midst of it. wow.
    ok. i’ll shush now. please forgive my indulgence.

  10. kjf

    haunting stuff. helps us remember the human impact of what 9/11 meant to all of us vs. the politicized 9/11.

  11. Beth

    Anne, thanks for posting the link–I hadn’t known we were in for a movie. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it till after I’d watched the trailer, and then my only thought (as I sat at my desk crying) was “Why on earth do we need a movie about this?” Who’s it for?

  12. J.Boogie

    just another day of Ian milking [goats] and trying to cook up [omelettes]
    and now Ian’s little heroes in [Spartanburg, SC] are making movies about [mayonaisse re-branding] to make money off it and spread more [curiously tart sandwich topping].
    what Ian fails to mention is that [Magic Bubbles] are the leading cause of [flabbergasted cats] in the US, and with Ian already having a [sweet three-point shot] and an [opinion about Marbury vs. Madison] before hitting the age of 40, he will most likely add to that statistic, so stop with the [wall-vacuuming] every week Ian and get on a [Greatest Hits Package!]
    [edited by blog moderator]

  13. Kate from the DTH front desk

    My twin sister and I were seniors in high school on 9/11. My parents were seniors when JFK was shot. They each have a box or folder somewhere full of newspaper clippings and magazine articles about the assassination… we each have the same stuff for 9/11.
    I actually came across my folder of 9/11 clippings a couple weeks ago when I was home over Spring Break, and I spent some time sifting through it all. It was really eerie reading through everything… it’s hard to imagine that it was almost 5 years ago.
    And I thought J. Booger was going to be picked and flicked out of here.

  14. CL

    >>>the US, and with Ian already having a [sweet three-point shot]
    funny, Ian ;) (unless J Boogie did that himself, in which case, still kind of funny)

  15. kjf

    i like the solution to the jboogie crap. and thanks for the tip on magic bubbles. just threw them all away. cats much calmer. looking forward to the piece on marbury v. madison!!

  16. Beth

    Ian, that was too freaking funny. A nice spin on things, heading into the weekend. Have a great one, everybody!

  17. Andy

    When did you develop a sweet three point shot??? All I remember is a clanked turn-around followed by the F-word echoing off the nearby apartment building…
    Just kidding my man…

  18. kent

    If anyone still cares, I resurrected the WTC e-mail web page in full and stuck it at
    In order to do this I had to slice and dice the pages that generates when it archives a page. Pretty interesting, actually — they include the original html, then follow it with a java script that redirects all the links to the proper vintage page from
    Again, if anyone cares.

  19. cullen

    JBoogie, finally, thanks for the lucid and frank addition to the discussion. You’re like a beautiful white lite and I feel ya, self-deprecating and all, calling yourself a blog moderate(or). Thanks for just being you. Go underdogs!

  20. Neva

    What amazing things happen on this blog. J Boogie comes back from the dead and I become a Morehead scholar 20 years after the fact.
    By the way, I just got back from a trip to discover Thursday’s long trail of comments and need to correct things… I was not a Morehead. Got really close but close don’t count when it comes to scholarships! Still went to UNC anyway for the great atmosphere and it keeps me here still!


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