Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Thanks for Calling, I'm Safe and Well after the Trade Center Explosion, Compassion Pours in by Telephone - a Letter from New York City

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Thanks for Calling, I'm Safe and Well after the Trade Center Explosion, Compassion Pours in by Telephone - a Letter from New York City

Article excerpt

THE phone call was from my wife's Uncle Tom Ashby, who lives in Bridgeport, W. Va. Mr. Ashby, a school bus driver, knew we lived in New York and wanted to be sure "everyone is all right."

"We weren't sure how close you were to the bomb," explained Tom's wife, Loretta.

Many New Yorkers had similar calls: The bomb blast in the World Trade Center on Feb. 26 has been the catalyst for thousands of inquiries from friends and relatives who saw the news of the blast on television. After seeing images of thousands of sooty New Yorkers evacuated from the 110-story buildings, many callers felt the need to reach out, even if it was only a long-distance connection.

Even people who worked miles from the World Trade Center, which is in lower Manhattan, received calls. Advertising salesman Gordon Imrie, whose office is in mid-town, says both his parents and in-laws called "with loving concern." It was a gesture repeated millions of times.

Psychologists say they are not surprised the phone lines have been jammed with incoming calls. "The exact geography does not matter. The World Trade Center is associated with New York, which is now associated with danger," says Dr. Stuart Kleinman, assistant professor of clinical psychology at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

Most of the calls were from relatives. Leigh Van Blarcom and her husband, James, had a message on their answering machine from a sister-in-law. "She said she just wanted to make sure we were all right and that they loved us very much and wanted to make sure nothing had happened to us," says Mrs. Van Blarcom, whose Greenwich Village apartment is several miles from the World Trade Center.

Since many New Yorkers are originally from outside New York, many of the calls were long distance. In Catherine Stamm's case, very long distance. Her mother and aunt both called from France. …

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