PREFACE: This was part of a series of true stories I compiled last year called “GROUND ZERO: THE UNTOLD STORIES“.
It’s not about the act. It’s not about the politics. It’s about the people affected by it. The events as seen through their eyes.
***** T h e * C r o s s r o a d s ********
Many of the stories you are about to hear came from actual conversations in a gas station/convenience store in Stroudsburg, PA.
A mere 60 miles from New York City, across Interstate 80, it was a place where many stopped to fill up their cars with gas, and get their morning coffee and newspapers, before starting their long commute to work.
In the summer of 2001, it was a happy place. With happy people. Many were New Yorkers who fled the crime and the cold steel for a better way of life in the Poconos years ago. Their jobs paid well, and their personalities were indelibly “New Yorkers”.. no matter where they chose to live. Full of life, sarcasm, humor, the “New Yawk” accent, and everything that goes with it.
They were in before the sun began to rise, to be greeted by cheerful workers who had fresh coffee, rolls, bagels and biscuits prepared for the “morning rush” beginning at 4AM.
A few regulars never returned after 9/11.
One can only speculate.
Those who did return were traumatized and messed up beyond description. Trying to put the unimaginable into words brought only tears from the strongest and burliest of them. Their spirit was broken, and a part of them will remain forever entombed in the rubble of the World Trade Center, or splattered on the sidewalks from a 100-story fall.
Across from the parking lot was a motel where a group of generous truckers from Indiana took a final rest stop before their trek into N.Y.C. It was also one of many places in the area where the stranded were forced to stay for the night…
Adjacent to both buildings was The Pocono Record. Amid rumors of further attacks nationwide, and the possibility that at least four states will soon be without power or communication… it began to set up as a command center to communicate to the rest of the world what was going on.
But it was in that 24 hour convenience store that the stories of triumph and tragedy were being told. It was the place where those across the nation stopped for coffee, braced themselves to enter a war zone, then returned to share their stories.
For a brief while, that place was to be known as “The Crossroads”.