By Rich Bockmann
The Bayside Historical Society is currently exhibiting a collection of artifacts documenting the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and their effect on the northeast Queens community and asking visitors to share their experiences of that day in order to preserve their accounts for future generations.
“In some ways, it’s difficult to fathom that 10 years have passed since 9/11,” said Alison McKay, BHS exhibit coordinator and archivist. “As a historical society, we began to think about ways of commemorating the day, and we knew we were in possession of several relevant artifacts.”
At the center of “Remembering 9/11,” on display at the society’s home in Fort Totten Park through Dec. 4, sits a long table covered with more than 60 drawings, letters and poems sent to FDNY Engine Co. 306 in Bayside and Douglaston’s Engine Co. 313 and Ladder Co. 164 by schoolchildren from as near as Bayside and Corona and as far away as North Carolina.
The society also provides visitors with a space to write their remembrances of where they were on that day for its archives, so that future generations will better understand the impact the events had on the neighborhood.
Bayside resident Allison McKay wrote that she was setting up for the Mommy and Me class at the First Reformed Church in College Point when she heard about the attacks. The class was canceled as many parents ran home to pull their children out of school, she wrote.
McKay noted the disturbing silence that surrounded the crowd that had gathered at College Point’s McNeil Park.
“So many people were there looking at the Manhattan skyline. It was filled with smoke and ash. Hardly anybody in the crowd spoke,” she wrote.
The exhibit also displays a list of 42 names of community members who perished that day. They range from lifelong residents to expatriates such as Timothy Welty of Yonkers, N.Y., who was originally from Flushing. Firefighter Timothy M. Welty Street at 159th Street between 29th and 32nd avenues is named in his honor.
Aligned on the wall of the exhibit is a series of 11 photographs of the World Trade Center taken over he course of an hour and a half by Manhattan sculptor Louis Mendez, who has previously exhibited works at the society.
He and his wife had just finished casting their ballots for a local election and were returning to their apartment when they heard the explosion and saw smoke pouring out of the top floors of the north tower. Mendez rushed back to his apartment and grabbed his camera to document the tragedy.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.