9/11 Stories

Larry Benfield

After Rockefeller Center, where I work for a law firm, was evacuated around 10 a.m. on 9/11, I wondered “how the heck do I get home to Brooklyn” since all bridges and tunnels were closed. My first stop was the subway, which was closed. Next I tried my usual bus stop and talked to a few people about our options. Three of us walked to the 57th Street stop to see what the bus drivers could tell us. They said they didn’t know when the buses would run again, and we stood around for an hour or more, wondering what to do next. I kept looking up at Trump Tower, wondering if it might be the next target.

After weighing our very few options, a group of 5 total strangers decided to band together until we all got home safely. Being relatively new to the city, I am extremely fortunate to have been a part of this amazing group. We joined the masses and walked across the 59th Street bridge into Queens. Helen, a very energetic lady who lives in my Bay Ridge neighborhood, quickly emerged as our leader. She grew up in Manhattan and knew her way around the city. Her spunk kept our spirits up as we made our way to Brooklyn, and I’ll be forever indebted to this wonderful lady.

Considering the size of the crowd (several thousand, I guess) walking through Queens, our group wondered how the heck we’d be able to get on a bus or train to Brooklyn. Then Helen had a brilliant idea; she knew another route! We split from the crowd and walked down side streets and across the Kosciusko Bridge into Greenpoint. Helen knew that the G train would take us in the right direction, so after asking directions from 4 or 5 people, and getting different answers from each, we made it to the G, which we took to the F train. There we waited on the platform as six jam-packed F trains passed before we could squeeze into one and head toward the R train to Bay Ridge. I finally arrived home about 5 pm, exhausted from walking many miles in the hot sun but feeling mighty fortunate to have been a part of such an amazing group of people, which I called the “fearless 5.” A toast to you, Helen! I’m forever grateful to you for getting us home.

Larry Benfield