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‘Windows’ memory at WTC

September 11, 2011
By KATHRYN SPIRA , For The Leader Herald

Ten years ago today, the sky was clear and it was a beautiful sunny day, so Herman and I were on the beach listening to our busy carpenters building our dream house. As usual, they had a radio playing music while they worked.

As I was in my reverie in the sunshine thinking how perfect the day was, suddenly our builder, Emmanuel and his brother, Chris, came down to the beach to say they were quitting for the day. They said the music had been interrupted by a newscast stating two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers and the U.S. might be under attack. I think their exact words were, "We're going home to watch the news on TV, to see if the world is coming to an end."

For many that day, the world did come to an end. I know my beach time was cut short as we went back to our camp on the other side of the lake to watch the news, which was very confusing at first.

What reminded me of this recently was I was watching a retrospective on the Twin Towers and they were interviewing the head chef of the famed restaurant, "Windows on the World," which was on the top floor of the North Tower, which had a panoramic view of New York City and its boroughs.

I had actually been to this restaurant when I lived in NYC. I specifically remember getting just appetizers and cocktails because meals there were very pricey. I was there with some fellow waiters to see how an upscale restaurant was run as opposed to the restaurants where I usually worked.

I remember having to dress more upscale to be seated in the restaurant area rather than the bar because the restaurant was very formal. At the time I was working at "Formerly Joe's" in the West Village and I was with four or five other waiters from that restaurant. None of these waiters "made it" to the big time, although we were mostly aspiring actors who worked there. I remember a lot of planning went into being there together, because shifts at our own restaurant had to be covered and we had to save up big time to even afford the appetizers and drinks at "Windows."

I remember we went on a weekday instead of the weekend because it was not as crowded, we were able to get reservations and we weren't needed as much at "Joe's." As I recall, we went about 4:30 to 5 p.m. before the dinner crowd would be showing up and they would need our table.

I can say the staff at "Windows" seemed very professional and treated us with respect even though we were fellow waiters and had introduced ourselves as such.

According to Wikipedia; "On January 4, 2006, a number of former Windows on the World staff opened "Colors", a co-operative restaurant in Manhattan that serves as a tribute to their colleagues and whose menu reflects the diversity of the former Windows' staff."

I must say that I feel a special kinship to those wait staff who lost their lives that day while at their work stations. After all, throughout my years pursuing an acting career, most of the time I worked as a waiter or bartender in restaurants that would have liked to be as upscale as "Windows on the World."

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at



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