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THE CONNECTOR

A Newsletter By, About, and For Graduates
of William Allen High School's Class of 1983

Issue 12 - December 2001

9/11 -- A Personal Account                                                   by John Ashbrook

On September 11, 2001, the day terrorists crashed airplanes in New York City, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, my wife was sick. Instead of going into the office, I planned to spend the morning at home, taking care of our two-year-old son. Earlier that year, the three of us had moved from Brooklyn to a house in New Jersey with a short (by New York City standards) one-hour commute to my office in the World Trade Center.

I heard the news only a few minutes after the first plane crashed. From the start, as my assessment of what happened evolved, my thoughts bounced back and forth between anguish and empathy, on the one hand, to complacency and selfishness, on the other hand.

Anguish and empathy: "I feel sorry for whoever died flying that small plane."

Complacency and selfishness: "I’m glad it wasn't me."

Anguish and empathy: "It was a jet! Hundreds in the building and the plane must have experienced terror in their final moments."

Complacency and selfishness: "The plane probably hit too high to hurt anyone in my firm."

Anguish and empathy: "The towers fell! Some of my colleagues must be among the tens of thousands who must be dead! Is this another Pompeii? Pearl Harbor? Will there be a military -- even nuclear -- attack? I recall hearing over network television a mix of true events, all of which are now etched in history, and soon-to-be-forgotten rumors that the Mall in Washington was on fire, that an explosion had rocked the Capitol, that four or five more planes were in the air, and that Air Force One was "a target".

Complacency and selfishness: "Do I still have a job?"

Anguish and empathy: I went to a nearby hospital to give blood, but it was not accepting donations.

Complacency and selfishness: Envying survivalists I had often mocked, I gassed up the minivan and bought candles and drinking water.

And so on.

Out of the five or six hundred people who worked out of my firm’s World Trade Center office, the terrorists succeeded in killing one. I didn’t know her.

As I look back on that day nearly four months later, I find the events less distressing, but more profound. And, I continue to bounce between the two emotional poles. Anguish and empathy: I frequently read the newspaper's short biographies of those who died, and sadness permeates me. Complacency and selfishness: When my firm considers a new permanent site for its offices, I hope it is a building overlooking the burial ground that is ground zero, because it would mean a shorter commute.

In these unusual, but not unprecedented times, we often hear about the collective mourning and the collective consciousness of New York City and of the Nation. But, I can’t help noticing how uneven the effects of the calamity are. Among my closest colleagues, none of whom lost a loved one, the terrorists caused an astonishingly wide range of effects. For many like me, the lasting effects of the events seem to be little more than a touch of survivor syndrome. (This article is no doubt evidence of that symptomatology.) I would include in this category the colleague who sits across the hall from me in our new temporary offices. He escaped to a safe distance from the towers, then saw the bodies and body parts fly. He recently accompanied his neighbor to view a piece of her husband. And despite it all, he is genuinely talkative about his and others' experiences -- even chipper at times.

The person next to him had a toddler and an infant in the day care center that was in Five World Trade Center. She ultimately reunited with her children, who were physically unharmed. But, she had no word on the whereabouts of the toddler until well into the night of the 11th.

Another person with whom I work lived in Battery Park City, yards from ground zero. In the weeks after the attacks, she was a bundle of nerves -- a textbook case of post-traumatic stress syndrome. She had evacuated the tower without her purse and, for several days, could not return to her apartment to retrieve her dog. She did visit the apartment briefly to retrieve him, unharmed, but had no key (it was in the rubble with the purse). She had to break the door down. By the time the authorities let her make her second visit to the apartment, over a month or so later, thieves had walked into the doorless apartment and stolen her computer. They hadn’t bothered to take the milk and eggs she had stocked up on shortly before September 11.

John Ashbrook practices law at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. On September 11, 2001, their office in the World Trade Center Tower 1 was destroyed. By September 16, the New York Times reported on their recovery in an article entitled "Up From The Ashes".

Note from the editor of The Connector (Annette Blanar): I wanted to include an article about 9/11 in this issue of The Connector. So far, it is probably the biggest tragedy in our lifetimes. Hopefully, we never will never have to experience something so horrible again. I asked John if he would be willing to write an article. To me, he was the perfect person for the "job". He was the first person I worried about when I heard the news. Here's my story:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was in my home office working. While I usually listen to the radio while working, that day I didn't turn the radio on; I just got to work. At about 10:00 a.m., I received a phone call from my husband (who was at work) who asked if I was OK. Puzzled, I responded that of course I was OK, why wouldn't I be? He replied, "You don't know, do you?" and proceeded to tell me that two planes crashed in New York and that he couldn't find any more information because the news web sites were all overburdened.

I went to our living room and turned on the TV. I relayed what I could learn from the news to my husband. It was hard to figure out exactly what happened; there was conflicting information. I believe I was still on the phone with my husband when I heard about the crash in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. That plane's flight path between Pittsburgh and Somerset was pretty close to our house (it may even have flown over ). I live in Westmoreland County (the county that took the 911 calls from Flight 93), 50 miles from the crash site.

Shortly after hanging up with my husband, within about one-half hour's time, I received calls from my neighbor, brother, mother, and mother-in-law. They wanted to make sure we were OK. Later that day, I even received a call from one of my clients in California.

This is where John comes. Later that evening when my emotions and adrenaline settled down, my thoughts shifted to wondering if anyone I knew could have been a victim of the tragedy. John was the first one that came to my mind. I knew he worked in NYC, but didn't know where. I pulled up The Connector web site and found his latest autobiography update; I now had the name of his firm. I then searched the Internet to find out where his firm was located and found World Trade Center. My heart dropped into my stomach. I e-mailed him looking to find out if he was all right. Fortunately, he was.

To all those who were not so lucky and to their families and friends, The Connector sends out its sympathies. We have lost many fine people in all of this, and many people will carry emotional burdens they don't deserve. We are a strong nation, made maybe even stronger from the this tragic event. Let us all bond together as friends, not strangers, and move collectively to bring peace to this earth.

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New Zealand Excitement                                                           by Paul Kulowitch

Paul Kulowitch Kayaking in New ZealandFor a little more than 2 years now, I’ve been whitewater kayaking as a source of escape from the doldrums of sitting at a desk and working on a computer. Our rivers offer one of nature’s greatest playgrounds, and the sport is great fun and exercise. While it is the greatest sport I’ve ever experienced, one must never loose respect for the tremendous power and potential danger of a raging river.

This year afforded me two opportunities to travel to New Zealand (the whitewater capital of the world), thanks to work-related activities in Australia. Needless to say, I had two wonderful experiences that generated memories I’ll cherish forever. For those who have the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting this beautiful country. The weather is similar to San Diego’s, and the landscape is riddled with waterfalls, hot springs, caves, volcanoes, and mountains. For those of you that have seen Lord of the Rings or Vertical, you’ve seen some of this south island's landscape. It is an unspoiled and amazing country and, with our current exchange rate of $0.45US=$1.00NZ, it’s a bargain vacation. New Zealand caters to adrenaline junkies. The tourist industry revolves around whitewater kayaking, rafting, jet-boating, bungie jumping, rock climbing, caving, sky diving, mountain climbing, and many other extreme activities. If you love those activities, you’ve got to go! If you want information on a NZ vacation,  e-mail me, and I’ll try to help.

My first trip was in February 2001. I share with you my adventure.

Day 1: Rangitaiki River

The day started with Andy picking me up at the Rainbow Lodge. He greeted me like a long lost high school friend and took me to his house to get the gear for the trip. After a cup of tea and a few minutes gathering all the necessities, we were off to the river. He told me what to expect on the trip, and while I was the only "customer", we would be joined by four of his friends. We proceeded to pick up three of them and met the fourth at the river. Again, I was surprised by the manner in which his friends interacted with me. We were all like the best of friends after just minutes. The drive to the put-in was about 2 hours, but the time flew. We exchanged stories of past kayaking adventures, talked about my previous week in Melbourne, life in the States, etc.

When we got to the river, two of us stayed there, while the others ran shuttle. In no time, we were in our boats and ready to tackle the entrance staircase. It was a solid grade 3 with multiple rocks to dodge above the third and fourth ledges. Andy demonstrated the best line, and I followed (though not as cleanly). After pinballing off the last two rocks, I (accidentally) performed a beautiful splat on the canyon wall immediately after the last drop. Everybody cheered, even knowing that it wasn’t on purpose. Andy reassured me that those accidental, but spectacular moves, should be cherished and used as confidence builders and incentives for being able to one day perform it at will.

With the first drop finished, we were off to the second -- the 7 meter falls with a glancing kiss off a ledge half way down. Andy assured me that a competent class 3 paddler could handle it, so I trusted him. Nevertheless, we got out and scouted. The other four went first, and I videotaped them. Then, it was Andy’s turn. He went over the drop doing a rail grab. I gave him my video camera and got in my boat. The layout of the approach to the falls was perfect. A 20-meter long channel with just enough curves to obscure the view of the drop and just wide enough for a kayak to go through, lest one has any thoughts of turning back. I didn’t hesitate and went right into the channel and off the drop. The kiss was a little harder than expected, but the landing was perfect, and the video even better. We were 6 for 6. All clean runs without a single roll. After that, I was ready for anything. The rest of the run was grade 2 to 3-, but the scenery was spectacular. After an hour on the last play wave, we called it a day.

Before the trip, I figured, with all the extra challenges (strange river, strange boat, unfamiliar paddling partner), I should stick to a level of difficulty that I knew I could handle, but the scenery should be great. Andy delivered exactly what I wanted.

 Day 2: Mohaka River

Once again, the day started with Andy picking me up at the Rainbow Lodge. This time, he was all packed and ready to roll. Today, it would be just Andy and me, with his girlfriend running shuttle. The drive to the put-in was about 2 hours, and we picked up where we left off with stories of good times, home life, etc.

This river was different from the other. It starts as grade 2 and gets harder as you go further down the river. The first hour was filled with amazing views and easy grade 2 wave trains. The first significant drop was a four foot sluice with a strong cross current at the bottom that drives toward a large and slightly undercut rock. Andy ran it perfectly, of course, and I followed his line. Unfortunately, I underestimated the cross current and landed with a brace (when I needed a sweep). The current spun my boat and squirted me at the rock, resulting in my second (accidental) beautiful splat, at least until I went over and was wedged under the rock. I took a few seconds to get my bearings and did an underwater sweep to try to get around the rock (the current wasn’t very strong there), but the rock prevented me from rolling. Just as I cleared the rock and began my roll, Andy grabbed my boat and helped me upright it. He wanted to "make sure" there wouldn't be any problems. We discussed my run and the deceptive currents and moved on to the next run.

After a few grade 2 to 3- runs, we entered a magnificent canyon. There were spots where water spouted from the canyon walls into deep blue pools. It was the most fantastic place I ever paddled.

Finally, we got to the toughest run of the day, the Tahowi drop. The run starts river left and works right, going over a couple of 3- drops and catching a couple of eddies to avoid a hydraulic similar to little falls at 2.9’. Finally, you get to a river-wide, 3-foot ledge that needs to be run on river left. I ran it perfectly (well, maybe not perfectly), throwing a combat roll in for good measure (ha).

So ended the second perfect day. Once again, Andy delivered exactly what I wanted.

Day 3: Tandem Sky Dive and Full James

The third day was the height of adrenaline rushes. It began with a 12,000 foot tandem sky dive with TTS (Taupo Tandem Skydiving). I jumped with 2 girls from Singapore. I was the second jumper. The ride to 12,000 feet was nerve racking. The airplane seemed to pant as we crept to jump altitude. All the way, we were packed in the back like sardines: the three of us, three jump masters, and two jump photographers. Just before the jump, I sat on my jumpmasters lap, and he locked our harnesses together, then cinched them tight. The door opened, and the rush of the air added additional tension. The first girl approached the door in a smiling panic. She tried to feign thrill, but the nervousness was obvious. She and her instructor climbed to the edge, turned for a photo, arched backwards, and went out. Then, it was my turn. We wasted no time as we hurried in a crab-crawl to the door. The photographer sat in the doorway, and we positioned ourselves next to him. I, too, turned and faked a thrilled smile as best I could. They took the exit photo, and I proceeded to tip my head back and right as instructed. I grabbed my harness and thought, "there’s no turning back now…even if I wanted to turn back." I closed my eyes and screamed "OH S#*&" as we fell downward. The first couple hundred feet felt like a big drop on a rollercoaster. After that, the acceleration ended and fall was spectacular. Patrick, my jumpmaster, added a few spins for excitement, and then stabilized our position. I couldn’t get over the view of Lake Taupo and the surrounding mountains. After about 15 seconds, the camera man shot into position just out of arms reach to take some close-up pictures. When we hit the 45 second mark, Patrick tapped my helmet to let me know that he was going to open the chute. I braced as the parachute opened and the harness dug into my thighs. There was a tremendous sense of relief in knowing that we were going to land safely. Patrick guided us down the last 5,000 feet skillfully, adding pauses, drops, and spins. Finally, we landed in the center of the designated pit. I was the only one of the three of us to take a knee on landing, which resulting in some verbal abuse from the other skydivers that were videotaping from the ground. Fortunately, they put a soundtrack over those comments in my version of the video.

My jump was finished by noon, so I decided to run off to Full James to check out Andy, Garreth, and Takeshi paddling the now famous wave that hosted the 2000 Rodeo Championships. They were all tearing it up on the wave, throwing cartwheels and linking spins before washing off the back. Takeshi ended up swimming on one after exhausting himself on the wave and getting caught in the boiling eddies downstream. Andy asked me if I wanted to take a shot at it. It was clearly out of my class, but it was the Full James, so I had to try. I climbed in the RPM and paddled around the eddy until Andy was ready. He led the way across the 10-foot wide, surging eddy line and effortlessly ferried across the current and the equally challenging eddy line on river left. I paused for a moment then darted out on the same line, but with different results. I was immediately rejected by the daunting current and sent back onto the surging eddy line. I regrouped and tried again with the same result. On my third try, I was sure I would make it. I crossed the eddy line and was spun again, but this time hit a hard left rudder to regain my angle long enough to get into the thick of the wave train. Then, I turned downstream and angled my way through waves and into the river left eddy where I breathed a momentary sigh of relief. Andy congratulated me and proceeded to show me how to get into the upper eddy. Timing was critical, since there was a rock that blocked the path when the surges receded. I followed his lead, but got beached on the rock. I waited for the next surge and paddled freely into the staging eddy. The eddy pulses and drives you into the rocks as you try to set an exit line. I hit a momentary angle and shot across the eddy, hitting a left rudder to keep from being rejected. To my amazement, I glided right onto the V of the wave pile and raced down the face. A couple of times, the wave tips me, but I braced and recovered. Finally, I got rejected, tipped, and rolled back up immediately. That wasn’t so bad, I thought….then, I hit that 10-foot wide eddy line with no lateral speed and got dumped a second time. Three roll attempts later, I took my first New Zealand swim. No shame in it for me, though. I just surfed the Full James. Not bad for a 1-year paddler. I regrouped and got back in my boat for another go. My next three attempts were not as graceful. I was rejected all three times, so I packed up and counted myself lucky to get one good surf.

For Part 2 of Paul's adventures in New Zealand that make your adrenaline rush just reading them , tune into the June 2002 issue of The Connector.

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Continuing Plans for the 20th Reunion                     by Gayle (Roth) Cichocki

The reunion committee had a good turnout (9 people) at their August 2001 planning meeting and came up with some good ideas. All of this is tentative -- nothing has been finalized.

The committee is looking into the possibility of having a Casino Night at Fullerton Fire Co. (the same place as last time). The date of the reunion will be November 29, 2003. The gambling portion of the night will last 3 hours, and there will probably be some sort of buffet.

The company they are looking at to take care of the Casino Night portion of the event is Entertainment Connection. If anyone is aware of another company that provides this type of service, the committee would certainly consider them.

The committee has a list of e-mail addresses for 20 or so classmates. They will be update them via e-mail as they make decisions or need input. If there is anyone else who would like to be included on this list, complete the contact information form on this site.

The committee welcomes any opinions related to their current ideas for reunion #20 or suggestions resulting from prior reunions.

Since High School     See e-mail addresses of classmates

Diane Mapstone Cook has been married since 1993 to Mike Cook. They have two children, Michael who's 7 and in first grade, and Danielle who's 3 and wants to know what everything is (Note to Wayne Barz from Diane: the only thing worse than "Why?" is "What's that?"). They have a cat named Magellan, named after the explorer of course. Diane is teaching science at a private school in Wilson, NC, to fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students. Diane and Mike don't get up to Allentown much anymore, but the weather seems to get there (20 inches of snow in January 2001). Since graduation, Diane has received her B.S. from Penn State and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia. She decided to go into teaching because she really likes working with people much more than working with test tubes.

Kathy Korpics - This past year was a very challenging one for her! She changed jobs after 15 years with Prudential HealthCare. The company was bought out by Aetna USHealthcare, and they wanted her to move back up north. After living in Florida for almost 10 years now, the thought of having to shovel snow again was horrible, so she took a very lucrative buy-out package and went on the job hunt. After a couple months of consulting work, she was able to find a permanent position with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. She is still in the systems security field, just working for different company. She finds it frightening how similar both companies are.

She purchased a "new" old house and has spent the last few months doing renovations. While it was frustrating at times, she feels that there is something really charming about an old brick home in a city filled with new construction.

In her spare time, she sings in a community chorus that donates all of their concert proceeds to charity, plays guitar and bass with a group of talented musicians who have completed recording and releasing their first CD, plays with her very faithful 10-year-old dog, and takes long walks on the beach with her soul mate. She says, "Life at 37 is pretty darn good!!!"

Update - Janice Zipf is now a credentialed SANE, which stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. That means that if she is on call in her county and a rape / sexual assault victim comes into the ER, she can come in and do the forensic exam. In layman's terms, she does the rape kit. She has yet to go to court, but many SANE's get called as expert witnesses. She is also the president-elect (read that VP) of the newly organized Georgia Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nursing. Congratulations Janet! In other news, she says that her son Nolan is three and a ball! They recently had photos taken with Santa, and he loved it!

Update - Jennifer (Sher) Marshall is happy to report that their son Maxwell Paley turned one on November 29, 2001. He was born 11/29/00. Jennifer and her husband Jeremy are doing
pretty well, considering they live and work 15 blocks away from the World Trade Center.

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New Names on Our Contact Page

These are the people who have submitted their e-mail address for inclusion or changed their e-mail address on our contact page, since the June 2001 issue of The Connector. Visit our contact page to find out how to submit your information and / or find your friends!

Jim Flamisch
Steve Mould
Jed Rapoport
Michael Smith
Janice Zipf

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