A letter from Randi Sue Baker:
Randi Baker, MHS Class of '68, lives in Brooklyn, directly across the water from where the World Trade Center towers stood until September 11, 2001.

October 17, 2001

Wednesdays are yoga mornings. These middle-aged bones get stiffer and hurt more when I get up after sitting at my desk for a long time. The class is over at 10:45, and I walk the mile to work.

This morning I was feeling buoyant, and I consciously gave myself permission to feel really good after so many weeks of feeling off balance, since the time when I had raced down this same street to my daughter's school thinking that, if we were going to die, I wanted us to die together. When I came to Carroll Street this morning, it was blocked off. I had seen the police officers from several blocks away but had assumed they were the ones overseeing the planting of new viaducts on Fifth Avenue. This construction has been going on for almost a year.

But, these weren't the viaduct police. These were very busy police allowing a long line of cars past the blue barricades to park with huge buses and limousines along the nearly full, long block to Sixth Avenue. As I stopped to wait for my chance to break the line to cross the street, I asked a serious woman on the corner, "Are they making a movie?" The brownstone row houses of Park Slope Brooklyn are frequently used in movies and for TV shows like Law and Order.

"No. It's a fireman's funeral." Did I see disdain in her eyes, or was it the seriousness I suddenly felt as the water came to my eyes and I heard and saw the bag pipes begin processing to St. Savior's Cathedral a long block away on Sixth Avenue?

Five blocks later on Fifth Avenue, I ran into a women who used to live next door to me; she had moved to New Jersey several years ago. She was dressed in black, with a hat. She was going to the funeral. It was for a man named Fontaine who lived around the corner from me. I'm sure I would know his face and his wife and kids. They go to the same grammar school as my daughter had.

Five blocks away from Carroll and then the double block up to Sixth, and people were still looking for places to park for a funeral for someone who probably died in one long instant over a month ago.

I still give myself permission to feel good today, but it is now tinted with melancholy which is not a bad thing. I just felt I had to write this, though. Life is different, but it isn't all worse. People in Brooklyn are a bit more humble, and I find them meeting my eye and saying, "Hi!" a lot more than I'm used to. Saying hello to someone passing you on the street -- even if you didn't know them -- was just good manners in the Midwest when I was a kid.

Randi Sue Baker