My Nation, 9/11 Found Me Working On A Downtown, Little Rock Hotel
Do You Remember 9/11?
The day our Nation was taken down a couple of notches that day. It was September 11, 2001.
Where were you? Were you with your family, or on your way to work?
What were you doing? Were you a little baby?
Do you Remember? The horror experienced that day, when we lost a towns worth of people in a flash and crash. We would never be the same.
Peabody and the Stephens building across the streetClick thumbnail to view full-size
September 11, 2001
September 11, 2001
After picking up and / or dropping off sub-contractors, or equipment on the elevator for the first three hours. It was a rare time in the morning when I could stop and take a breather. When I wasn't having to run up and down in the hotel elevator, I would grab my broom, and make a bucket of mop water.
That morning, I had turned the constant cursing coming from the 2-way to low.
I can pick out her mispronounced name "Laura", each time it is barked by one of the big bosses. My immediate boss Dale, doesn't even need a radio, you can hear him all the way across the hotel which spans 3 city blocks. I am tuned into the job, and will respond to any calls or transportation needs.
This was a rough time in my life, I was homeless, living in hotels as I could afford, and staying in my car when I couldn't. I was ashamed to let my family see me in such a bad way. I worked as a construction laborer, and ended up operating the construction elevator.
I was working on the conversion of the Excelsior to the Peabody Hotel, in Little Rock, AR.
Funny how things turn out.
It is September 11, 2001. As the construction elevator sits at rest on the 21st floor of the Excelsior Hotel. In Little Rock, AR. My clipboard sits, atop my metal folding chair that rides the elevator with me.
The doors are open, I am just outside the doors of the elevator. My 2-way radio, is clipped onto my jeans pocket.
The last load of sub-contractors and their tools have been dropped off within the last hour, we are at rest at the top.
The job consisted of ripping everything out of the old suites, and replacing it with newly built rooms and suites that were "Peabody".
During the transition, The Excelsior sold everything that could be hauled out. This included a famous Jacuzzi that allegedly had President Clinton's butt marks in it.
All of us on the labor crew were very poor, but we were thrilled at being so close to possible famous DNA that we lied to each other about the probability of buying that ungainly, and moldy sucker...how funny.
Everyone is at work stations. It is still another hour before breaks would start...
The Little Rock Marriott Formerly The Peabody
(501)906-4000 Back entrance is LaHarpe Blvd runs behind the Marriott, and is parallel with the River Market Parking
Ranger, One of the Electricians Came Running
**I remember it like a photograph. We stood in a baked silence, produced by an icy coldness of black and white. A knowing in the pit of my gut, that our world was now very different.
Colorless, sounds are over-amplified in a twilight zone sort of way.
I was considering sneaking to the roof for a smoke break, when Ranger came running to the hotel elevator banks saying, "...we've been bombed, Lori, we've been bombed by the enemy."
This professional electrician , always busy and cheerful, stood helplessly mouth down turned, tears in his eyes. Holding his small radio by the handle, up and out hoping to push this news away. Ranger and I stood transfixed as we listened to the quickly changing news reports.
With as much calmness as I can muster, I grabbed the two-way radio and spoke as calmly as I could into the microphone, knowing anyone in the hotel could be listening.
"Code 99. code 99. Please turn off your power tools. Turn off machinery, and make your way to a television or radio. Please, calmly make your way to a news media outlet."
Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning - Alan Jackson
We Have Been Hit, And There The President Sits
We were all scared.
My work mates were as diverse as the local college campus. All of us got work at one of those temp agencies that pays workers daily. Most of us were down on their luck, and some were slipping further down. Some, like me were working almost 100 hours per week to break out of homelessness.
I push myself for the day when I could move out of the hotel room, get a real place, and bring my youngest daughter home. We cannot afford to miss work, but we are in a good place to be attacked. We are scared.
- One of the Labor supervisors, Craig, has a brother who works at the Pentagon, none of his family can make contact, they are frightened. On pins and needles we wait for news or more attacks.
We are all scared. Most of the twenty or so laborers I work with are indigent, most are away from family, some even staying under the bridges.
On any job, when a crew works the long hours, weeks and months, they become a substitute family.
After a few hours of waiting and some frantic phone calls, the decision is made by the owners and Contractor, to keep working.
For the rest of the day we worked quietly. Waiting...knowing that those who hated our Country enough to bomb New York City, could do anything. We could be next. In retrospect most of us laborers would probably be unclaimed or unknown should we face the fate of those in the Twin Towers. Relatives didn't know where most of us were.
Our most pressing needs had to be met. It was a slow and hard path home. It was a guilty knowing that if we were sent home that day, we had nowhere to go until right before dark and would miss the hours of pay. Even though we were scared, we were glad for the continuing of the work day.
Each one of us laborers hungered for our family far away.
For me there was a need to be in a better place financially. If I pulled myself up only then would I be able expect love and acceptance from the people I missed day and night. In order to muster enough courage to face loved ones again, I felt I had to be better.
I did not have any family directly affected by the Twin Tower attacks, but knows the story's of many who are / were. It is unimaginable.
The Stephens Building, which houses many federal offices, was evacuated and considered a hot zone. No one, really knew what was happening at that very moment...It changed our Country and world forever.
The Peabody Is Now The Little Rock Marriott Hotel
Time moves us along like winds push a river. The Arkansas Peabody is no more. Since this story the Marriott Suites purchased the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, AR.
Finding the Little Rock Marriott is easy. Making it down President Clinton Ave is usually slow going during business hours, so give yourself plenty of time.
Early morning and evening rush hour keeps Clinton Ave to a crawl.
If you are taking a lunch break it is advisable to walk, or take the trolley. Keep a little cash on hand for the trolley. For guests of the Hotels downtown, they all provide transportation.
© 2010 Lori J Latimer
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