Off Beat: Twin Towers slogan eerie in retrospect



New York was a dream trip for a teenage country girl, as was a first ride on a commercial airplane.

So in 1982, shortly after high school graduation, I jumped at the opportunity for a trip to New York. It was a chance to see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, ride the subway, shop on Fifth Avenue, spend an afternoon in the American Museum of Natural History and, of course, take an elevator ride to the top of the World Trade Center.

Nine years after the dedication of the Twin Towers in 1973, it was a typical touristy thing to do in a relatively innocent world.

I picked up a Port Authority brochure advertising the World Trade Center as a tourist destination. It was a free addition to my souvenir collection.

Then, as people often do with souvenirs, I tossed it in a box and forgot about it for nearly 30 years.

Sometimes it pays to be a souvenir saver, and sometimes it becomes a little spooky — like when I found the brochure a couple of months ago.

When I saw what the graphic designer had done with the brochure, I got chills.

The photo on the front is a bird’s-eye view of the towers, with the rest of New York in the background. The slogan?

“The closest some of us will ever get to heaven.”

— Ruth Zschomler

‘Um … um …’

It was our son’s first day of first grade and we were nervous about sending him to school.

He was diagnosed at age 3 with type-1 diabetes, requiring several insulin shots each day, most crucially a pre-breakfast shot. We’d met with the principal, classroom teacher and secretaries at Felida Elementary to make sure they understood his needs.

I woke up early that morning, turning on National Public Radio — and hearing the always-unflappable Bob Edwards stammering, “Um … um … um … ,” as he tried to get his brain around what was going on. I’ll always remember Bob Edwards — Mr. Cool — completely blown away and stammering, “Um, um, um … .”

My wife and I were, of course, blown away too: upset and distracted, but trying to put a smile on our little boy’s morning as we got him ready for school. I dropped him off and drove away, dissolving in tears because of this childhood rite of passage and because of the horrible news.

My wife and I just stayed glued to the TV. Then the phone rang and it was Felida Elementary. Our son’s blood sugar was unbelievably high — way out of range — as if there was no insulin in his system.

My wife and I turned to each other. “Did you do his shot?” “Did you do his shot?”

“Um, um, um … .”

In the madness of the morning, neither of us had given our son his routine shot. I drove over to school and administered the insulin while my wife went to donate blood. In my mind, Sept. 11 will always be linked to diabetes and the voice of Bob Edwards.

— Scott Hewitt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.