Pan Am

Pan Am


My family went to NYC in 1971. It was my first real travel, and definitely the first time in a real city. I loved New York, was fascinated by all the yellow cabs, the noise, it never got dark, people spoke different languages. We stayed at the Hilton. Somewhere I have a photo looking down from the hotel window at the intersection of 6th Ave and 56th. The cabs looked like yellow dots. In the corner of the frame is ‘Black Rock,’ the old Sony Music HQ, where I was to spend a lot of time when I was on Columbia. (I once ran into Walter Yetnikoff on that same corner. He looked like he was going to shoot me. That’s another story).

These photos are from the top of what was the Pan Am Building, now MetLife, taken on my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic. As you can tell, my fashion sense was rocking even then. My brother and sister don’t seem to be as excited by the whole thing as I was, but they were teenagers and we all know what that means.

In this photo I’m 10 years old, roughly the same age my son was on 9/11. That day, he came home from school, got in bed and crawled under the covers for a couple of hours. He’d seen the towers fall on TV at school (an accident for which his teacher apologized profusely).

I’m not sure why these stories go together, but when I saw these photos this morning I remembered the innocence and promise I felt that first trip to NYC. I remembered the shock and silence walking those streets in early October of 2001. And I remember even now the searing image that my son, like so many of us, witnessed on that day.

Above all else, I think of that beautiful, crazy city and the strength of the people that make it what it is. I think about all the lives that were lost and those that were changed 20 years ago.

And, I still wonder what happened to that shirt.