Although I lived in Manhattan, I was in Los Angeles. I was doing CBS This Morning and that day was to be the first Latin Grammys. I was there to cover that. That morning I broadcast out of Television City. Whenever I went anywhere we always broadcast on the shows' time-7 to 9 a.m. Eastern. So of course we had to be up and at 'em to be on the air at 4-6 L.A. time.
That morning was pretty uneventful.
On my end, in addition to doing the weather, I interviewed an artist from Columbia named Juanes. He was up for multiple Grammys that evening and not only did he agree to the interview he was kind enough to perform. When he was done and they cut back to New York I asked him to autograph his CD. He did and I still have it.
After the show ended we went across the street to Katz' Deli to get a bagel with a schmear before going back to bed.
Here's where it all began.
Our waiter as he was taking our order casually said, "You're from New York, right?" I nodded yes and he continued, "A plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers." My first response was like so many,"A Piper Cub?" "No, a jet airliner. And another airliner just hit the other tower." What?
We (I say we because it was me and my dear friend Barbara Dally makeup person extraordinaire) hustled back to the studio to watch on the monitors and the first words I heard were from Bryant Gumbel. He said, "Oh my, The Pentagon is under attack." That definitely got my attention.
Like most of America we were transfixed in front of the television all day. Again, memories.
I remember they had a video that somebody had shot from a balcony in Newark on their cell phone. It showed the second plane hitting a tower and you could hear the voices in the background reacting in horror. Get this, they freely used curse words, which you could hear, and still it was shown over and over again. Now we are used to hearing and reading those words but back then that was definitely something I had never heard on television before.
I was worried about my wife and daughter but because the cell phone antennas were on top of the World Trade Center it all went dark. You couldn't get through.
That day was full of images. Holes, big holes, in each tower where the planes had hit. People being shown jumping out of windows to their deaths which made me wonder what was so horrible behind them to make them choose that alternative. People covered in soot staggering away down streets. Firemen and first responders heading towards the flames. We're used to 24/7 new channels now but were not used to news all the time then.
By the end of the day both towers had collapsed.
And you could have wrung me, and America, dry.
A day I will never forget.