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Chet Frankenfield: Our Canadian Neighbors

 

We were driving to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and on Sept. 10 we arrived in Cache Creek, B.C., a forlorn little town in the middle of nowhere. My wife described it in her diary as arid, sparse and quite a contrast to Whistler, where we had stopped for lunch earlier in the day.

A major north-south highway and the trans-Canada east-west highway intersect at this point. Thus the major industry and attractions are motels and restaurants for the tourists passing through to more interesting destinations.

The next morning we went to breakfast at the Bear's Claw Lodge. After serving us, our young waitress asked us if we had seen on television what was going on in New York City. She said an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

We were not overly concerned by this news and thought that anyone who believed the Pentagon was in New York City was not too reliable a news source. However, the next time she came to our table she was much more alarmed and agitated, and we decided we better find out what was going on.

We returned to our motel and turned on the TV and realized for the first time what a horrific event was occurring. Our immediate reaction was concern for our son Michael and our daughter-in-law Kelly. Both worked in downtown Manhattan and frequently called on clients at the Trade Center.

I unpacked my laptop computer and was going to see if I could contact them by email. When I opened my email, the first letter was from our son Jeffrey in California. He had called his brother in New York and immediately emailed to tell us that Michael and Kelly were both safe and not in the area of the disaster. We sat there stunned watching on TV what was happening but relieved that our children were OK and decided we better get on the road because we still had hundreds of miles to travel over unfamiliar roads.

Radio reception was poor in this remote part of Canada, but we managed to get enough bits and pieces of news to realize that this was a significant tragic happening. It was inconceivable to think the towers had collapsed; they had always appeared so dominant and mighty on the city's skyline.

But in addition to our feelings of sadness and loss for all of the lives and the towers, we also remembered our happy times there. Two years before, we had gone to dinner at the top of the North Tower with Michael and Kelly, and sitting at our window table overlooking Manhattan with the Brooklyn Bridge at our feet, it was indeed the "Windows on the World." And just the previous November we had taken Jeff and Cam up for a drink at the bar with views of the southern tip of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Sadly, many of the people killed in the tower were employees of the restaurant and bar.

We arrived in Prince Rupert and read in the paper that there was to be a memorial service for the victims of the terrorist attacks on Friday evening at the Catholic church. It was an interdenominational service, and we attended and found it to be very comforting. When we first arrived at the church, we noticed that several rows of seats in the front were unoccupied. After the musical prelude, a piper entered followed by the local firefighters, paramedics and Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Appropriately, the rows had been reserved for them.

After the service, a reception was held in the basement. When the people discovered we were U.S. Americans, the outpouring of sympathy and love was overwhelming. I have always liked our Canadian neighbors, but that evening the mutual love could not have been greater.

Chet Frankenfield

Channing Avenue

Palo Alto

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