KFWB radio reporting for Thursday, September 20th, 2001
Dig We Must 6am PDT
It was an advertising line so subtle, so effective, that for two decades, it was part of daily life in New York. It worked its way into the punch-lines of jokes. It was used in the dark political movie "The Manchurian Candidate." It was how the electric company here, Con Edison, used to explain its endless ripping up of the streets of this city: "Dig we must, for a better New York."
"Dig we must."
Now it is back, and without humor or pretension or sly image-improvement. It is the explanation for rescue work that is, for all intents and purposes, hopeless. Eight days have now elapsed since the last of just nine survivors was pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Yet, dig they must.
Anthony Samyu is a volunteer rescuer. When they find a hole in the debris large enough for somebody to go into, he's the somebody. Rope secured around his waist and shoulders, he is lowered in, a deadly-serious cave explorer, looking for a life, or a body, or even a wallet.
Anthony's been doing this since the day the towers fell. But why?
He explained it. He was part of the team that found a woman, alive, in the wreckage late last Tuesday. If experiencing that, if reclaiming a living soul from the very ground, were not inspiration enough, there was one more heartbreaking detail Samyu supplied. That woman, horribly mangled, legs broken, had been found between the bodies of two dead firefighters. "Cradled," was the word he used. They had knowingly given their lives on the very remote chance that hours or days or a week later, somebody like Anthony Samyu might save hers.
Dig we must.
Open For Business 5pm PDT
The concierge at one of Manhattan's better hotels had to keep her voice down. She wasn't giving away trade secrets, she wasn't gossiping. She had to keep her voice down because if she spoke at normal volume, her words would've echoed through the lobby.
Her hotel is empty. So is a bigger one three blocks uptown. There are massive layoffs.
On top of everything else, this city now reels from what seems like a cosmic practical joke. In Pittsburgh somebody hangs a sign reading "We Are All New Yorkers." A banner at a ballpark says "I'm a Boston Red Sox fan. I love New York." The city has gone from overdog, to the place you worry about.
And no tourists are here.
About 1100 of the 1600 seats for the matinee of "Phantom Of The Opera" were empty yesterday afternoon. Only 5000 showed up for the first exhibition hockey game. There are parking spaces available.
Even the cold, hard, logic of this truly new era leads to the conclusion that the city is safer, more vigilant, more patient, more friendly. It's raining today but the weather has been extraordinary, the Brooklyn Bridge reopened this morning. And as that concierge pointed out: you can get a hotel room, a ticket to a Broadway show, and probably a big hug at the airport if you look like you need one.
And no tourists are here.