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Remembering the infamous day, stuck in Chicago

JACK-REMEMBERS-SIGEvery time Sept. 11 comes around, I think about my trip to Chicago in 2001 on that infamous day.

My best friend and client, Cecil Troutwine, who owned Chicago Beer, one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the country, called and asked me to come to his office in Chicago.  He wanted to talk to me about a farm in Clay County he wanted to buy.  I took the early Southwest flight, rented a car, turned on the radio and was heading down Cicero Avenue to his distributorship on 122nd Street when the first plane flew in to the World Trade Center.  I ran into his office and told him to turn on the television.  We watched the whole thing evolve.  I told him I needed to get back to Kansas City.  When I got back to Midway, police cars were across the entrance.  They had shut down the airport. I got a hotel room and was stuck in Chicago with no way home by plane, train or bus.  After the first night, I had to buy more clothes.

I went over to a restaurant to eat down the street from the Hampton Inn where I was staying.  They put me in a dining room where the only other occupants were a group of men sitting at a larger table. That is when I saw they were Arabs, who along with the waiter, were toasting the success of Bin Laden blowing up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had followed my instinct, grabbed their champagne bottle and hit one of them over the head. When I finally got a hold of the FBI to report this incident, they informed me they had received hundreds of calls like mine.

After three days in the hotel, I drove the rental car I wasn’t supposed to take out of the Chicago area back to Missouri and turned it in at MCI at a cost of almost $900.  When I finally got home after four days and a couple thousand dollars in expenses, I called Cecil and said, “Next time you need to talk to me, I will meet you at Denny’s by the Sports Complex in Kansas City.”

Jack can be reached at P.O. Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or jackremembers@aol.com.  Visit www.jackremembers.com.

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