My 9/11 memory

Like all of you, I have a story. Burned into my memory like a bad dream, I remember precisely where I was 16 years ago this morning. I remember the phone ringing, listening to someone tell me about the first one, turning on the TV just in time to see the second. I remember the room I was in, the people who were there, the color of the TV. We lived in the flight path for Port Columbus, and I remember the eery silence of the rest of the day. I specifically recall the sadness on everyone's faces, and even the lady's face who told me I could not donate blood because of a previous transfusion. And I remember the look on our Presidents face.

 No matter what happened after, or how you feel about his term in office, on that night he did not look like a diplomatic President, ready to downplay the moment or tell us what lessons there were to be learned. No, President Bush looked ticked off, like a mad Texan looking for blood. And I was right there with him.

In those days, I was a restaurant manager. Actually, I was in my last few months of that career before making the permanent switch to the restoration industry. My professional objective at that time was to keep the doors open on the Fuddrucker' s hamburger joint I was running. I had spent a lot of time local store marketing and had started putting on classic car shows every Friday night in the parking lot. I even bought a make shift DJ system and ran the restaurant inside simultaneously to running the car show outside every week. It was crazy but I had a blast and got pretty good at it.

We had started putting these on in April and really sputtered to get going. 7 cars showed up to the first one and we considered that a decent start. Through the spring and summer, our following grew. We went from 7 to 25 trophies a week, started handing out dash plaques, and even sponsored the family of a terminally ill child. By September Fudd Friday's was a well known event and we were drawing 50 or more cars a week.

When I got to work that Monday afternoon, my staff began asking if we could close for the day. All the other businesses around us were closed, as well as all the other Fuddrucker's in Columbus. But our corporate office insisted we stayed open, as we were actually busier than usual that day. I made the decision, though, to close at 8 so we could see the President speak.

The next day I huddled with the car show regulars. We needed to decide whether we were going to still have the Friday night cruise in that week. It did not take long to decide. At least in our little corner of the world, we were not backing down. We announced that the show was on.

We began prepping for the event. We decided to take up a collection for the the New York Fire Fighters Association. We put together a patriotic theme, and one of the cruisers even made a collage of the tragic events, which I still have 16 years later (there are photos of it below).

 We waited anxiously to see if anyone would come out on 9/14/01.

Turns out, Friday September 14, 2001 was overwhelming. There were cars lined up to register. Not just classics. Imports. Exotics. PT Cruisers, Vipers, and the Corvette Club. Terry Glenn even showed up in a Lamborghini.

In all, we registered 173 cars. We spilled out onto the street, covered the lawn of the shopping center, and even wound up having the police stop to direct traffic. We said the Pledge of Allegiance to start the event, and sang the Star Spangled Banner to end it. Not a dry eye in the place. And more than $3500 was raised and sent off to New York. It was an amazing event that was made possible by a bunch of car nuts!

This is my 9/11 memory. I will never forget where I was when those towers fell. None of us ever will. But at the end of that week, a couple hundred automobile enthusiasts from Columbus, Ohio got together, helped each other through and realized that we did not have to live in fear.

On a side note, I had a mystery shopper on 9/11. They took points of because "the staff looked downtrodden," Still bitter about that to this day.

Day # 1654. Remembering the fallen on this day. Remembering our heroes. God Bless the Untied States of America. It is good to be me. And it is good to be you too.


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