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James Puz: Stunned silence in Winona

From the COLLECTION: 20 years later, our readers share 9/11 memories series
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It was my day off and I'd stopped by Daniel's Ace Hardware late that morning to say hello and chitchat awhile. Asking Bill, one of staff, what was going on, he replied in a somber, almost deathlike voice, that two jet airliners had crashed into the two towers of the World Trade Center and they had collapsed.

Knowing Bill had a strange and dry sense of humor, I smiled and said, "You're kidding."

With a blank expression on his face and with the same tone to his voice, Bill replied, "No I'm not." I knew then he wasn't kidding...he was deathly serious.

I hurried over to Thrifty White where I was a pharmacist and everyone was watching the store's small TV set. Not a word was spoken as staff and customers watched in stunned silence, awesome horror as cameras at the scene gave us the heart-rending pictures of the smoke and dust-choked area...of the smoldering ruins of the North and South towers.

To this day, Bill's tone of voice, that look on his face and those words, "No I'm not." are as vivid now as they were on 9/11.

James Puz



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