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Hof
October 28th, 2005, 01:28 PM
Seven months after it all came down I was dragged Downtown by my Son,who had been there previously.I didn't want to go,but I got convinced.
At 9 AM,and with a cold April wind blowing off the Harbor,we began lining up for tickets,given out at a booth in the middle of the plank boardwalk between the old ships at the South St. Seaport.After a irritating longline wait,my son and I got our tickets,allowing us our 15 minutes,beginning at 10:30.
The viewing platform began at the stone fence of the old Church and ended at a panorama of emptyness.In front,and on either side,scarred buildings had funerial shrouds hanging from their facades,and the soon-doomed Duetschebank was emblazioned with a 30-story American flag,undulating on the morning's breeze against it's black backdrop.What was NOT there was an invisible shadow,hollow and empty in it's ennui.
Below,debris was being removed by the truckload and consrtuction trailers clotted every available space.The beeps and clanks and and shouts of activity were overhung by endless dusty clouds and by the SMELL,the never-before-smelled odor of the place,something that is imprinted on the auditory memory of anyone who chanced to breathe the air at that place and time.
After my 15 Minutes,compassion had turned to anger,blindingly pure anger,and I knew I needed a drink to chase the Dark Side away.I don't drink liquor,never have,but I needed a shot.My Son and I began looking for a rarity,an open bar on the edge of Zero,and what we found was a gift,a winning Blackjack hand,dealt by whatever Higher Power grants you a true New York Experience.
One block from the SE Corner,where the damage stopped and the fences began,we found O'Hara's.It's at 120 Cedar St,corner of Greenwich,in an old building that's been there since New York was a fishing village...One Block away... The owner,Mike,was just now re-opening,after living through horror then cleaning it up afterwards.We were his first customers in 7 months. He bought my Son and I double shots of Jack and told his story.
That morning,he and his staff were busy opening when they felt a deep and thumpy rumble,then soon after,someone rushed through the front door and they were told what was happening.He sent everyone home except a couple of staff,then set about closing the place up when a second thump happened,and suddenly the whole area was pelted with flaming junk.Not knowing what else to do,they rushed to the roof to put out fires,and in the process took some photos that are stunning in their "You-Are-There" intensity.By the time they realized that they should get out,the first of the Towers fell,and they were trapped.
Before the second one came down,they were out of there and not allowed back for five months.Then,it took him nearly two months to de-toxify the place,but he was finally open.
Gradually,others drifted into O'Hara's and the owner told and re-told his story.A lot of people were drinking shots that morning.He had framed and hung a lot of his photos around the bar,so newcomers all found themselves walking the perimeter,making an odd,reverent Stations Of The Cross in an Irish Pub,reopened on the edge of disaster.
He compiled it all into a photo album,all the before,during and after shots,plus news clippings and other stories,and he'll show it to you if you know how to ask for it.It's getting a little tattered,and he needs to re-album his stuff.
Each time I'm in The City,I stop for a shot and a memory.I walk in,he greets me like an old friend.He brags to his clientel how I was the first customer through the door since Hell fell down next door.He always buys the first shot of Jack and pulls out the tattered album.This year,he told his story to my daughter.
Next time you're Downtown looking for a place to add to your personal 9/11 memory,try O'Hara's.The food is good,the shots are generous,the album is unforgettable,and if Mike feels like talking,his story is indeed one for the books.
And it's the only place anywhere where I'll have a shot or two...

AmeriKenArtist
October 30th, 2005, 11:42 AM
I'll stop there.

Medic_dk
December 8th, 2005, 03:53 PM
Hi Hof,

Thanks for the story of O'Hara's and Mike.

You have convinced me that I have to visit O'Hara's with my sister in March 2006.

Yours sincerly

Medic_dk
Denmark