There are certain days you don’t forget.
With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on Saturday, it just caused me to reflect on that week, and, really, the kind of surreal month or two that was in our history and culture.
You don’t really think about how much life changes as you’re living it.
I worked in factory then that no longer exists — Creation Windows — with people I don’t see much anymore, unless it’s around Selinsgrove. They had just built a new part of the building, and we were working back in rear part of the building, listening to the radio, wondering what in the world was going on.
My younger brother lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, at the time; it was hard to reach him by telephone. It just made think about how small the first cellphone I had at the time actually was.
Believe it or not, I covered a Southern Columbia-Shikellamy boys soccer game that day (I knew I was at Southern Columbia, but I had to look up the opponent). I wondered if I would even go; it just all felt so strange and unimportant at the time.
It was amazing they played the soccer game, and there was some question if the football games would be played.
The uncertainty around everything was palpable. It seems strange with 20 years of hindsight, but officials weren’t sure what the end game was. Would there be a terrorist attack on a pro game? Would be there be a coordinated attack to hit high school games?
They did finally decide to play on the 14th, and it’s a scene I’ll always remember. Harold Raker and I covered the Selinsgrove-Shikellamy game that night over Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field. We weren’t sure how many fans would actually show up to watch the game.
Would people be afraid? Was football important to people at the time?
Turns out everybody wanted to take their minds off what was going on. The game started with the stands nearly filled, and a line of fans wound down the hill into the parking lot by the tennis courts at Selinsgrove High School.
I will never forget the scene, though I didn’t remember anything that happened in the game until I looked it up. I don’t even think the details were an important part of the story.
The other enduring scene from that time came on a drive back from Allentown. Central Catholic hosted Mount Carmel in a game at J. Birney Crum Stadium on a Saturday afternoon.
When you make the turn outside of Schuylkill Haven by the Cressona Mall to get to Route 901 to start coming north into Shamokin, it’s a narrow stretch of street in a residential area.
The street on both sides — every single house — was lined with American flags. It was like driving through a tunnel of flags.