Halloween in the 60’s

Looking out my window one morning recently, watching the falling leaves fluttering by and waving goodbye to summer, my thoughts turned to Halloween.

Surely most of us have warm memories of Halloween from our childhood. It was the one night when you could be whatever you wanted to be, and be given candy and treats just for asking. I used to ring doorbells and yell “Trick or treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat!”

The phrase “trick or treat” used to be an implied threat: give me candy or I’ll play a trick on you. As young children, we didn’t mean it literally. But eventually, as adolescents, we outgrew trick-or-treating and used Halloween to pull off pranks and light forms of vandalism.

I used to go down Bailey Avenue in Buffalo the day after tricks-or-treats night and see all the store windows waxed and soaped up. I never used wax myself, but I did use soap. There were quite a few raw eggs thrown around, too. In residential areas, homes and trees would get TP’d. This would turn into a real mess when it rained.

Sixty years ago, children dressed like horror legends such as Frankenstein or the Mummy, policemen, soldiers, firemen and sports figures. I had three basic costumes back then.

One was hobo. I’d grab an old, well-worn shirt out of the “rag bag” and maybe shred it a bit more, pair this with a worn pair of dungarees (this is what we called jeans back then) and take scissors to them, maybe sew a patch or two on the pants, and rub burnt cork on my face to simulate whiskers.

My second go-to costume was cowboy. I’d dig into my toy box and pull out my best toy cap gun, holster and a cowboy hat.

Ghost was another. This was the best one because nobody could see your face. I’d get an old sheet from my mother, cut two eye holes in it and voila! Instant costume. None of those store-bought outfits with the plastic masks for me, thanks.

In the 1950s and 1960s, trick-or-treaters took whatever treat they were given. Every neighborhood had a house where a kindly old lady allowed us to pick our treat from a plate full of homemade candies, cakes or cookies. Back then, families would permit their children to go out trick-or-treating with their older brothers, sisters or even the neighbor’s children.

My loot bag was an old pillow case and if I didn’t fill it at least twice, it was a bad night. I donned my costume right after dinner and headed out to pillage the neighborhood in ever increasing circles. Once my bag was filled, I returned home to dump the contents on a newspaper in the dining room, then headed out for another round.

While I was out, my parents would sort my treasure, separating out the fruit and anything homemade or repackaged. I was only allowed to keep individually wrapped, mass-produced candies, and I wasn’t allowed to eat anything until my parents had examined my loot. For some reason, peanut butter cups fell into the “suspicious” category and they were always gone when I returned, never to be seen again.

I read that this was because of paranoia about contaminated treats and was the result of unsubstantiated urban legends involving razor blades in apples or poisoned treats. Wikipedia says that no child has ever been killed by eating Halloween candy from a stranger. Snopes collected an impressive array of rumors about adulterated Halloween treats and found them all to be untrue.

One year I had a Halloween party in my parents’ basement. I produced “touch boxes” where my guests would reach through a hole and feel things while I told a horror story. The few things I remember are a bowl of raw chicken livers, a natural sponge covered with Karo syrup (to simulate a brain covered in blood) and peeled grapes to imitate eyeballs. My guests and I also bobbed for apples and played a few other Halloween-themed games.

I hosted this party when I lived in Buffalo and had to discontinue it once we moved to the country. As people moved to the suburbs, they found that their new neighborhoods weren’t very favorable for trick-or-treating. Sometimes the lack of sidewalks forced children to walk on the street. Many suburban neighborhoods boasted large lots and this caused the kids to walk long distances going from house to house. In rural areas, where the trek between houses is even longer, parents would sometimes pack up their children and head to more urban neighborhoods, where the homeowners might quickly run out of candy. 

Nowadays, children aren’t very familiar with their neighborhoods. Combine that with the dangers of traffic and it is best that parents accompany trick-or-treaters. A fairly recent trend is “trunk or treat” gatherings, in which people hand out candy from their Halloween-decorated cars in parking lots.

Halloween sure has changed since I was a kid.


Deciding to seize the day


October 9, 2019


The day I decided to live my life to the fullest, to seize the day, and stop coasting through life was the day I was diagnosed with cancer over ten years ago. When my doctor informed me that I had cancer I told him to “get it the fark out”, although these weren’t the exact words I used (This is a family newspaper after all.) I wasn’t about to let a few rogue cells define me or restrict my joie de vivre.

I feel that time is the greatest gift we will ever receive and waking up each day is a blessing to be cherished.  You can always get more money, you can’t get more time. However receiving this diagnosis is not the only brush with death I have had. In the 60’s I was driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard when a person coming the other way crossed over the yellow line and strafed the entire driver’s side of my car, from bumper to bumper. My car came to rest in a gas station, about three feet from a gas pump where the attendant was filling up a car with gasoline. I had to exit my car via the passenger door as my door would not open.

I should have known then that I was destined to lead a charmed life. I totaled another car several years later by hitting a large tree, head on. In the last ten years, there have been so many times I have eluded Death that I can’t count them all. I don’t think Death wants to see me again for a while. I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolisms.  They were so many that my doctor said he had never seen someone as bad as me that was not the subject of an autopsy. I’ve beat cancer two other times and have been thrown across a room by 440 volts.

I keep checking the bottom of my foot for an expiration date but haven’t found one yet. I really don’t think I want to know though as it might diminish the joy I feel every day just to be alive. 

Knowing that a loved one’s time may be ending soon might actually be a gift that gives us a deeper appreciation for them and the time we have together but I don’t want to know when I am scheduled for my final exit. As research for this article, I recently took an online test (fatefulday.eu) to see when I would die and, God’s honest truth, they told me I died in 2015. Dang, nobody told me!   

Worrying about tomorrow and lamenting the past is a total waste of time. Each day is a gift. Carpe Diem! People don’t call their friends and families or spend time with them anymore, but squander their valuable time looking at Facebook, checking thier messages or watching videos on YouTube. You can hear people mumble I haven’t got the time while they rush home from work to go online. 

I was parked outside the high school recently, waiting to pick up my granddaughter and was watching the children file out of school. Although they were walking in groups, the vast majority had their noses buried in their phones. Here they were, walking with their friends, but no one was talking to each other.

Probably many of our thoughts and worries involve problems and situations in the past or the in the future and the closer we examine them, the more we will realize that only a very small percentage of our thoughts involve the present. 

It takes an honest effort to live your life in the present. This may sound rather simple but not understanding this is the key reason that stops people from living their lives to the fullest. People certainly aren’t lazy or afraid, they are merely trapped in their daily routines. You cannot live your life to the fullest if you don’t dare to try new things or take risks.

Worrying about the past or the future can be a huge problem when it comes to living in the day you have right now. We have to accept that the past is not alterable. Spending a single second regretting your past takes away the chance to enjoy the present. Worrying about the past can be a vicious circle. It not only takes away the time you have to enjoy this moment but it gives you with another reason to be troubled in the future. Thoughts about why did I spend so much time worrying about yesterday in the past. 

Accept the past for what it is. Let bygones be bygones and make the best of your situation today. Don’t lose sleep about the future either, you have little control of it. Deal with life one day at a time. Bottom line is, it depends on you and only you. If you spend your time whining about the past or fretting about the future, you will miss living in the present. Make the best of today. You will never get this day back. One day you want to be able to look back at your life with a smile on your face and recognize that you did the best you could.

My experiences with peripheral neuropathy lead me to CBD oil



I have peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy. This is customarily associated with symptoms like numbness pain, and tingling but there are other symptoms as well.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of three different types of nerves. They are the motor, the sensory and the autonomic nerves. Each of these nerve systems controls different functions. I have both sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy. 

Damage to my motor nerves makes walking difficulty. My legs feel heavy like I am trying to move a 25-pound ham and are difficult to move especially on waking up. I sometimes feel off balance.  Since damage to the motor nerves disrupts the signals from your brain and spinal cord to the muscles telling them what to do even something as simple as walking can become a difficult task. I require a cane while walking to maintain my balance. 

Also, I need to see the floor or ground, or I lose my balance. If I shut my eyes, I start waving around like a willow sapling in a wind storm. A doctor tested for this damage using a pin. They repeatedly pushed it against my flesh on my foot and I could not feel anything. 

However sometimes if I step on a coin I swear I can tell if it is heads or tails. Then I have electric shocks. It feels like my toes are getting shocked and the feeling moves across the bottom of my foot.

Because I suffer from symptoms related to this motor nerve damage, I must exercise extra caution when walking on stairs or other areas where my risk of a fall is greater. This is the primary reason I had a first-floor addition put on my house, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Allowing myself extra time and not hurrying can also help me limit my risk of falling. I now walk like a two-year-old. 

I also find it difficult to pick things up off the floor due to a lack of balance. I sometimes try to hook then with my cane or use my cane to push them close to something I can grab on when I bend over. My wife bought me a “Picker Upper” as I call it so I can retrieve things from the floor. 

Because damage to your motor nerves affects the ability of your brain to transmit messages to your muscles I find myself limiting the use of my legs and feet. Unfortunately, this decrease in physical activity results in me having muscle deterioration and weakness. This is often referred to as muscle atrophy and I found it hard to get up from a chair. I had a box built to raise my chair to assist me in getting up. 

Muscle weakness further contributes to my loss of balance and difficulty walking that I previously mentioned. While exercise is often difficult and painful for me there are low-impact exercises that I do to help retain muscle mass and prevent muscle deterioration. I am now attending Physical Therapy to help with this and have exercises I do at home to try and rebuild my strength like stepping on and off a step stool every time I leave the living room to try and build up my muscles.

The disruption of signals from the brain can also lead to cramps, muscle spasms and twitches. Sometimes it feels like my toes are overlapping each other. They aren’t, it’s just my nerves playing tricks on me. Most of the time, the cramping strikes at night and ranges in severity from mild to terribly painful.

While most common symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy are a pain, numbness, burning or tingling they are not the only symptoms. When the motor nerves fall victim to neuropathy the symptoms can go far beyond pain or numbness. They affect my ability to control muscles and perform otherwise simple physical tasks. Though you may not be able to completely reverse these negative effects, alternative therapies like exercise can help you build and maintain muscle mass. This helps to minimize the impact of motor nerve damage.

There are other therapies I use though to help me mitigate the peripheral neuropathy symptoms. I take the controlled drug, Lyrica twice a day. Other things I use are homeopathic treatments. I treat my feet with a Frankincense and Mir oil every morning.  Finally, I use a CBD tincture twice a day. Every time I need a refill, I search the internet for the best price because there are now so many players selling this that pricing is all over the place. I have also moved from 300 MG to 1200 MG and the price increases proportionately. I can buy the 1200 MG for less than some people ask for the 300 MG. 

CBD has been called safe for almost everyone. This is according to a new article from the World Health Organization. But you should check with your own doctor before you begin using any CBD product. Research has shown several CBD oil benefits, ranging from alleviating social anxiety to improving rheumatoid arthritis. CBD could also decrease chronic pain although your mileage may vary.

Service animals

Emotional support tarantula

I saw a story on the internet recently about someone who was looking for a pet friendly house or apartment to rent and they were having a hard time. On social media, they posted that they were having difficulty and a person suggested something that seemed a little shady to me. They said to get their dog a vest and tell landlords that he was “A service dog, that way they can’t turn them away. “ I looked it up and found that doing this is a crime. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, to possess an emotional support animal in a rental property, you’re required to have a disability

Effective December 18, 2017, a New York State law makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly affix to an animal any false or improper tag identifying it as a guide, therapy or service animals. Violations of this law might bring about a fine of $100 and 15 days in jail. When a person pretends their pet is a service animal it shows a total lack of respect to all the real service animals out there, and those that need them. Service animals are trained to provide assistance to handicapped people.

Under local, state and federal laws, persons that have disabilities are allowed have service animals in all public areas such as retail stores retail stores and retail stores even though animals are prohibited by local or state health codes. However, I am concerned that people are taking advantage of this and abusing their protections and think that far too many people are abusing these laws. The objective of New York State’s new law is to curtail abuse and to discourage people from taking part in service animal fraud.

the new law is makes it against the law for anyone to make use of fraudulent identification tags, but not all service animals have to wear a patch, identification vest, or harness labeling the animal as a service animal.

I went on the internet and googled “service animal vest”. Google returned 167,000,000 results. Most of these sites did not require any type of documentation and many would also provide an ID card. Some of these vests were priced as low as $5.00.

Service animals include those that have received training to perform tasks that their owners cannot do on their own like Seeing Eye dogs. There are also emotional support animals (ESAs) that may or may not be trained. Their purpose is to soothe someone with a mental health problem.

Therapy animals are usually registered through an agency and their purpose is to provide help to those who need it. Therapy animals have no rights under the ADA, but places that do not usually allow pets, such as hospitals and schools, could allow them to visit. Legally speaking, only miniature horses and dogs are defined as Therapy animals. I wonder why these are the only authorized animals. What about cats or ferrets?

Whether a pet, a therapy animal, an ESA, or a service animal, businesses have the right to expect the animal to be under restraint, typically on a leash except in cases where the person’s disability prevents this and not pose a threat to the health or safety of other people. This includes disruptive behavior, such as growling, jumping up on people and acts that demonstrate the animal is not housetrained.

The National Institute of Health reports that “studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood”, and any person who loves their pet can verify. Having an animal as a companion is one of the best drug free antidotes to loneliness out there.

Meanwhile, anxiety has recently identified as a mental health problem and its reported levels are increasing across the board. The causes are frequently beyond our control, or at the very least they feel like they are. These might include gun violence, climate change and politics. To help us feel better we are instructed to get more exercise, sleep, eat more wisely, and maybe snuggle with a pet.

Maybe that’s why the millennials are the largest and most enthusiastic sector of pet owners in America. A 2018 survey reported that of the 67% of millennials who own a pet think of them as their “fur babies” a label that I hate and consider pretentious.

Deriving comfort from an animal doesn’t give anyone the right to special treatment, particularly when it interferes with the rights of those with real disabilities. And while anxiety sucks, official ESAs are intended to assist those people who suffer from debilitating symptoms.

With stronger rules in position, the days of suspicious ESA certifications could be waning. Until that time, all we have is an inadequate honor system filled with selfishness, and profiteers. You would not claim to be blind just so you could get a reduced fare on the bus or fake being a paraplegic just to be able to use a wheelchair while shopping. So, please don’t lie and say your dog is a service animal. Be considerate toward those people who justifiably need them and leave your pets at home.

 Norb is an animal lover who wouldn’t dream of taking a pet into a restaurant. You can follow his blog at WhyWNY.home.blog

I got up early

I get up early almost every morning to see if anyone has published any of my work. My articles usually get published around 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. It wasn’t yet dawn but the sky was beginning to get brighter. I grabbed a banana, a glass of vegetable juice and my laptop and headed for the back porch.

The air still had the nighttime crispness to it. The kind of freshness that you only get in the late summer/early fall. The birds hadn’t started their morning song yet but the crickets and frogs were going full tilt. I love hearing the crickets and frogs.

There were a few other sounds in my neighborhood, My a dog barking in the distance and the low quiet hum of traffic passing a few blocks away. The neighborhood was quiet until my neighbor started his car to go to work. Other than that it was fairly quiet and I was enjoying it. Our neighborhood is comparatively serene. A few of my neighbors are retired and they don’t have anywhere to go that early in the morning. I would say it is a sleepy little neighborhood.

 Another advantage to where I live is that you can’t get anywhere by driving through it. The only cars I see belong to residents and the people who are lost.

The light from the moon was augmented by the street light filtering thru the leaves of our maple tree.  Between the two sources, there was just enough light so I wouldn’t step on something. The leaves of the trees hadn’t started to turn yet, but I knew it would not be long before their stately mantle would be on the ground, being strewn about by the wind.

I watched a cat slink across my back yard, looking for a meal when it spotted me. It froze hoping I wouldn’t see it and stared at me, watching to see what I was going to do. When it decided I wasn’t a threat, it continued across my yard, under my fence and disappeared behind my neighbor’s house.

A cool breeze kissed my face and sounded the wind chimes I have on my back porch. Listening to the wind chimes is very soothing to me and we leave some of them out year round. Unfortunately, the gentle breeze brought the pungent odor of a skunk with it. The skunk wasn’t nearby so it was only a slight wisp of a smell though.

I’ve been trying not to listen to those people who are talking about the end of summer, trying to pretend they are wrong, that these long, lovely days will never end. But in the early mornings, I can smell, hear and feel fall coming.

It is still light out enough evenings to fool us all into thinking that we have more time. And my wife and I will delay dinner until 7 p.m., to take advantage of that time. Playing cards outside until dark, but then we have to move inside until bedtime. Gone are the nights sitting on our porch swing until 10 o’clock.

Very soon it’s going to be time to change the clocks. Finally the clock in my car will be right once again. I never did learn how to set that damned clock. How does the axiom go? Is it fall back or fall forward? We must have 12 to 15 clocks that will need resetting: vehicle clocks, alarm clocks, a clock radio, the clock on the stove, clock on our phone and one on the microwave. The list seems endless and that’s just downstairs. It’s an all-day job. Everything else resets itself.

As I think about it, I am retired with nothing to do, why do I need so many clocks? The only room in my house that doesn’t have a clock is my bathroom. I get up when I am awake, eat when I am hungry and go to bed when I am tired. But I digress.

These late summer days won’t last long, I know that. The older grandchildren have gone off to college and the younger ones will be back at school before long. They won’t be spending all day with us like they did over the summer, until the next school vacation.

The leaves will soon start turning a kaleidoscope of colors signifying the shorter days and longer nights. Soon, I’ll all be switching the position of the lawn mower and the snow blower in our garage.

But that’s all for later. Right now is a good time to put off whatever it is you wanted do inside until after dark, step outside and just smell the air. Soon we won’t be able to breathe the fresh air outdoors without bundling up against the cold.

So, step outside. Look at the trees, look at the sky, and enjoy the scents of late summer. Take advantage of the daylight and walk through a park if you can — or just walk around the block. Fire up the grill, cook the last few hot dogs of summer and eat your dinner outside.

But, as we all know, these days won’t last forever. Winter is coming, with its cold winds, snow, icy roads and slick sidewalks and then it will be time to put on our boots and snow tires. Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport NY.

Bugs, the other white meat.

October 14, 2019 is National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day. Who knew there would be a day dedicated to eating bugs?

I have eaten a few bugs in my lifetime and once you get past the creepiness factor that you are eating insects they aren’t all that bad. People living in Oaxaca, Mexico have been eating fried grasshoppers as a snack for centuries. These are partially cooked in water, then seasoned with garlic and lime and toasted in oil. They’re then wrapped up in a tortilla and eaten. I have eaten fried grasshoppers and found them to have a crunchy, nutty flavor.

There used to be a program on TV called Fear Factor where the participants would have to eat bugs as a challenge. Bugs are deemed highly nutritional and most of them contain a lot of protein. They also contain healthy fats, calcium and iron, are low in carbohydrates and cholesterol. I’ve never heard about an anteater with a cholesterol problem.

The eggs, larvae and adults of selected bugs, including tarantulas and centipedes have been eaten by human beings from prehistoric times to the present day. Eating bugs is common to cultures in most parts of the world. The meal worms I ate were rather bland but because of their size and shape would mix well with wild or brown rice to add protein to your diet. A meal worm is the larva of a Meal worm Beetle not an actual worm at all.

As challenges in food production loom, some adults think that an increase in eating bugs is highly likely. The estimated proportion of bugs to humans is around 200 million to one, say Iowa State University entomologists Larry Pedigo and Marlin Rice in their textbook, Entomology and Pest Management.

***If you are squeamish, you may want to stop here and go right to the last paragraph.***

You may think this is disgusting but you have probably eaten bugs already. The FDA, yes that FDA, the people assigned to protect your food source, allow a certain number of bug parts in many foods. Ground cinnamon, for example, can contain up to an average of 227 bug fragments per ounce.

Bug body parts are also permitted in both ground and crushed oregano. If you choose ground oregano, you might find up to 3,750 bug fragments per ounce. Crushed oregano is allowed to contain 900 bug fragments per ounce.

Chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate. Chocolate is permitted to contain 60 or more bug fragments per 100 grams

Maggots are permitted in a bunch of tomato products, including canned tomatoes, up to one maggot per 18 ounces of tomato juice and tomato sauce. This gives a whole new meaning to “Meat Sauce”

Canned citrus fruit juices are permitted to contain one maggot per 17 fluid ounces, but the good news is that juice that does contain a maggot cannot also have more than four fly eggs.

Canned mushrooms are a very good place to find maggots. If there are “over 20 or more maggots of any size per 100 grams of drained mushrooms” or “five or more maggots two millimeters or longer per 100 grams” the FDA will take a look. If not, gobble them up.

Meat provides a good amount of protein, but most meats contain many more unhealthy fats when compared to bugs besides that bugs contain fiber. Edible bugs have more nutrients and they can taste way better than meat. Many years ago I had chocolate covered ants. For this out of the ordinary snack, ants are first roasted and then they are coated in chocolate. I thought they tasted like chocolate covered raisins.

If two billion people eat bugs for dinner, it shouldn’t be too outlandish for you to include some edible bugs in your diet. In many parts of the world, eating bugs is commonplace and in fact some bugs are considered delicacies.

Men are more likely than women to eat bugs and younger people are more likely to see the potential of eating bugs. The chocolate covered crickets I ate tasted just like crunchy chocolate covered popcorn.

In some countries, like China and Thailand, chocolate-covered bugs are considered a delicacy. In Southern Africa, caterpillars are a significant supply of protein for some native groups and who among us hasn’t eaten the agave worm from the bottom of a bottle of Mezcal tequila on a drunken Saturday night?

Bugs are perfectly safe to eat just as long as you are buying them from a trustworthy source or even raising them yourself. You don’t want to collect bugs from the wild to eat because you don’t know what pesticides or other substances they may have had contact with. Another excellent rule of thumb to follow is not to eat any brightly colored, hairy or spiny bugs, as they are apt to be poisonous. As in all circumstances, maintaining a safe, reliable food source means a safe and healthy diet.

Bugs might not be for everyone, but they just might become a very important addition to the global food supply. They’re sustainable, green, and nutritious.

To purchase edible bugs go to Western New York Herpetological Society: http://www.wnyherp.org/buy-crickets.php Norb is an independent journalist from Lockport, New York.

9/11 Never Forget

Most people will remember where they were when a historic event occurs. I remember that I was in high school machine shop on November 22, 1963 when I heard that John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. They announced it over the public address system. I flew to my locker to retrieve my transistor radio to hear more.

When Richard Milhous Nixon resigned from the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974, my wife and I were celebrating our 5th anniversary in a hotel in Toronto. I took pictures of the TV screen with my camera not realizing that the images from this press conference would be preserved by everyone for all time.

At 8:46 on the morning of September 11, 2001 however, the whole country became a changed nation.  I was digging a ditch at my employer so we could install some new equipment when my boss came out and told me an airplane had crashed into The World Trade Center in New York City. Because he was a jokester, I didn’t believe him and went back to digging. This was just too farfetched.

Then at shortly after 9:00 a.m., he came out to tell me a second plane had crashed into the other building of the World Trade center. I thought he was carrying this joke a bit too far so I climbed out of the ditch, went into the shop and went to my radio. First thing I noticed was my music wasn’t playing and there was someone talking about these plane crashes.  Sure enough he was telling me the truth.

As I listened, the newscaster announced that a third plane flew into the west face of the Pentagon in Virginia. Then at 10:03, a fourth airliner crashed in a field in southern Pennsylvania. It was headed toward the United States Capitol or the White House. It was initially reported that more than 2,600 people died at the World Trade Center, 256 died on the four planes, 125 died at the Pentagon. However weeks after the attack, the estimated death toll was up graded to over 6,000. Over twice the number of deaths originally estimated were eventually confirmed.

Someone had brought the first war to United States soil since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 3rd 1941.

The September attacks caused a lot of confusion between news organizations and the air traffic controllers, including the unsubstantiated and often conflicting news reports that aired during the day. One of the erroneous stories that circulated that day said that a car bomb was set off at the U.S. State Department’s headquarters in Washington. Delta Air Lines Flight 1989 was believed to have been hijacked, but the aircraft radioed to controllers and it set down in Cleveland, Ohio safely.

At 9:42 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would not let all civilian aircraft within the continental U.S. to fly, and the airplanes that were already in flight were told they had to land immediately. All international civilian planes were turned back or redirected to airports in Mexico or Canada, and were banned from landing in the United States for three days. 

The world seemed strange to me after that. There were no planes flying in the skies. I was used to seeing the jet contrails during the day and they were noticeably absent. The skies seemed slightly yellow to me and the world was eerily quiet.  

Thousands of tons of toxic debris holding over 2,500 contaminants, including some known carcinogens, mushroomed across Lower Manhattan because of the collapse of the Twin Towers. Exposure to these toxins is suspected to have been a factor in fatal or debilitating illnesses among the people who were at Ground Zero. The Bush administration instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue statements about air quality after the attacks, naming national security, but the EPA did not conclude that the air quality had gone back to the levels previously to the September 11 levels until June of 2002.

Health problems effected students, residents, and the office workers from Lower Manhattan and nearby Chinatown. Many deaths have been connected to the toxic dust. The victims’ names were all included in the World Trade Center memorial. It has been estimated that roughly 18,000 people developed illnesses because of the toxic dust. There is also scientific theory that the exposure to the various toxic products that were in the air could have had negative effects on fetal development. 

Every September 11th, in New York City, the names of the victims who perished are read out loud while somber music plays in the background. The standing President of the United States attends a memorial service at the Pentagon, and they ask all Americans to celebrate Patriot Day with a moment of silence. A smaller service is held in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Typically the President’s spouse attends this observance.