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Cover Story

Life After Death

Can An Explosion Echo Forever?

October 21, 2001|Geraldine Baum and Edward J. Boyer and Maggie Farley and Ralph Frammolino and Megan Garvey and Josh Getlin and John M. Glionna and John J. Goldman and P.J. Huffstutter and Patrick J. Kiger and Maria L. La Ganga and Paul Lieberman and Joseph Menn and Charles Ornstein and Vince Rause and Janet Reitman and Janine Robinson and Nancy Shepherdson and Martin J. Smith

--Maggie Farley


New York City

Dreaming of Helping an Orphan

Sandra "Penny" Guzman rarely sleeps these days. But when she does, the 43-year-old single mother dreams about her future child.

She can't become pregnant anymore. Time and menopause have taken her fertility. Her only son, Nicholas, 17, is nearly a man, intent on joining the Army. Perhaps having another child isn't in God's plan.

She watched the giant towers crumble from the U.S. Postal Service office where she has sorted mail for more than 20 years. She realized that friends and mailbox regulars had disappeared in a roiling cloud of dust. She knew there would be orphans.

Her dreams of new motherhood became more insistent.

How many lost parents? She didn't know. Hundreds? Thousands? Enough to fill an entire school? There are more than she can imagine. From just the Wall Street bond trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald--which has lost nearly three-fourths of its New York office--there are at least 1,500 children who have lost a father, a mother, or both.

Right now, families throughout the region--and across the nation--are struggling to remake themselves, deal with custody issues and figure out a gentle way to tell their young wards that their parents are never going to come home.

Guzman wants to help, just as she did when she worked to raise two younger sisters in Brooklyn years ago. "I'm the big sister," she says. "I'm the one that people come to lean on, to rely on. Now, I'm the one needing to find that place to lean on. I'm trying to find out my purpose."

She approached her boyfriend. He agreed. She should do it. She talked to her church pastor. He's beginning to look for families in need.

All Guzman knows is that she is meant to help a boy. He's come to her in her dreams. A 12-year-old boy. Alone. Sometimes he's crying. Sometimes he's flinging a bomb at Guzman. Always she feels the pain and the loneliness.

"I need to find him," she says. "I need to just talk to him, to tell him it's going to be OK. I'll make it OK."

--P.J. Huffstutter


New York City

A Love Affair, Redefined

His brilliantly simple logo has become a cultural icon, so deeply embedded in the collective psyche that it borders on cliche. But now Milton Glaser has issued a new version of his "I NY" logo commissioned by the state of New York as a promotional tool in 1976. The new heart bears a black smudge, and the slogan has been expanded by three words: "more than ever." Glaser says it reflects a new resolve to love his unwieldy, brash and now vulnerable hometown.

"The 'more than ever' was an important realization--in the same way that when somebody you love is injured, the intensity of your love for them increases," says Glaser, 72, who has reason to take the attack personally. He designed the World Trade Center's observation deck and the graphics--down to the dishes and decorative curtains--for the Windows on the World restaurant atop the north tower.

Glaser is a man of many talents. His graphic and architectural designs have brought him fame around the world, and in 1968, he and Clay Felker founded New York magazine, a journal that spawned imitations in cities across the country. Nothing in his imagination, however, prepared him for the blow of Sept. 11. It has forced him to reevaluate his life, and he foresees much of the nation doing the same.

"In the middle of the most extraordinary affluence, success and dominance that represents the empire-nation of America, we suddenly realize that we are vulnerable. And that things change. It's a blow to one's arrogance and invulnerability. . . . You make a decision to withdraw or go forward--but changed.

"I know I want to lead my life differently. I want to use a lot of my energy and impulses for serving the city, and serving the world. I want to spend less of my time, if I can figure out a way to do that, engaged in business as usual."

That does not mean he will quit teaching design classes Wednesday nights at The Cooper Union art school, as he has for the last 40 years, or give up his weekends in the country. It does not mean refusing to come to work at the midtown office building he has owned since 1965. It means going deeper than changing a daily routine or surroundings.

"What I realized is that all this is a work of the imagination," he says. "Through the imagination, 20 guys with box cutters could bring us to our knees." Similarly, our response should not be "a technological one, not a governmental one, but of the imagination. There's nothing stronger than the human imagination."

Thus, Glaser is working on a response based on another glaring realization about a city that celebrates the abrupt and impersonal: In the end, all things are connected.

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