Category Archives: New York City

Memories Are the Key Not to the Past, but to the Future


The Hicks Sisters ca 1983

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom ~

It had been a glorious, beautiful, brisk autumn day. I stood and breathed in a stunning panoramic view as I watched the sun lower into a captivating sunset. Faster than I realized, dusk took over, and then twilight swiftly took hold as I watched evening begin to dance alive in the streets below in Manhattan.

It was a wonderful magic show – partly Divinely created and partly man made. It was etched into my memory for the rest of my life.

I was standing in the observation deck of the World Trade Center.

Little did I know 18 years later the very spot I was standing on would topple to the ground in rubble and dust and become part of Ground Zero. My magical space would be destroyed by Islamic terrorists filled with hate, determined to destroy my country and thousands of innocent people.

I was a young lass on that magical day in 1983, the mother of a toddler, full of hope for a bright future. I look at pictures of my sister and me taken during that visit and I get chill bumps because I see us and I want to shout, “Look long and hard. Burn these memories into your mind because you will lose so much in the future!”

How could I ever imagine the terror that lay ahead for me personally and the terror that laid ahead for my country? How could I have ever imagined something like 9/11 happening in my country?

But, it did. And, it happened in a year that was one of personal turmoil for me. There were things that happened to me I never thought I would experience in my world – vows broken, trusts broken, violence committed. And, then in the midst of all that – September 11, 2001 happened.

I had just returned home the day before from a trip to Florida with a friend who had gone down to see her parents. On the trip I’d had a health crisis and spent time in the ER.

So, I was still feeling frail and in recovery mode on that September morning when I got a call that said, “Turn on your TV!”

As we speculated – was this an accident or an attack – the second plane plowed into the second Trade Tower. That pretty much settled it – we were under attack.

From that point on, I was glued in place in front of the TV just to watch the unfolding events. Since I had lived in New York for about a year, I knew how many people lived and worked in that area of the city and the numbers were massive. Small city-size massive. We could be looking at unbelievably high death tolls. I began to cry and pray.

Then, one of the most horrific things I’d ever seen in my life happened – one of the Towers began to crumble, to accordion down on itself. It was falling like a stick of hot butter in a microwave.

How could this be happening?!

I desperately wanted the other Tower to be saved – but in my heart I knew it more or less faced the same fate. And, it did. It fell, too, leaving a trail of cascading destruction and death.

And, then the aftermath began…mountains size heaps of debris, personal locators of first responders trilling constantly indicating a man down here…and here…and there…and over there…and here… It was a new level of hell.

It took this country a while to recover from 9/11 just like it took me a while to recover from the personal cataclysm going on in my life at the time.

But, recover I did. I did by beginning to move on. I married the man who should have always been my heart mate. I grew stronger inside and stronger mentally regardless of what my disabled body tried to tell me.

Every year when 9/11 comes around I remember. Some years are worse than others. This year was bad. My PTSD kicks in many years. Every year I have a man that stands by me with unyielding compassion and understanding.

I have a very growing concern that Americans are growing away from 9/11. They are forgetting 9/11 – the cause, effect and aftermath and how we were one Family after the attack.

Unlike the generation before who “Remembered Pearl Harbor!”, it’s deemed not very politically correct to “Remember 9/11” any more. Patriotism is almost view as “deplorable”. Some of our leaders like to play political footsies with the very people who financed the terrorism against us and are getting wealthy themselves from these relationships.

This is very unfortunate because history and the past are our teachers. If we forget our past, many times we are destined to repeat the past.

Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Gentile Dutch living in Nazi occupied Holland during WWII. The Ten Boom family saw what the Nazis were doing to the Jews in Holland and they made a decision to make a difference. They began hiding Jews in their home. Eventually the Ten Boom family was discovered and the Nazis rounded them up and sent them to concentration camps. Corrie lost family members in these camps.

After the war, Corrie understood the importance of putting the past into perspective. No, we don’t live in the past, but as Corrie said, “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”

We must take the lessons of 9/11 and learn from them – for the sake of the future and so the death of the thousands lost that September day are not in vain.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.








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Filed under 9/11, Anniversaries, History, Islamic Terrorist, Life, Memories, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, September 11, USA, World Trade Towers

The Bonds of Family Can Be Severed in an Instant, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“9/11 was a reminder that the bonds of family can be severed in an instant. They are essential, crucial, valuable, fragile.” ~ Peter Jennings ~

Bev & Pam in NY ca 1983

I don’t know who came up with the saying “time heals all wounds”. There must be a committee of pencil heads sitting in a room somewhere whose specific job is to do nothing but come up with dumb platitudes. This one is probably one of the lamest.

I personally don’t believe time heals all wounds. I think it may scab over the wound and then scar over it, but totally heal it? No. In the long run, time may help us deal with a wound or a hurt or teach us how to survive.

Take for example my two bouts of non-smoking lung cancer. I have two long scars that run from under my breasts, around my sides and across my rib cage and onto my back to within a few inches of my spine. There’s a scar on each side because I’ve had cancer in both lungs. So, for all practical purposes I was cut almost in half – twice. I have scars where those wounds were. I will always have them. They are a reminder I have survived cancer twice. But, time will not erase the scars, the memories of what I went through or the fact I am minus major portions of both lungs.

For the past 12 years our country has marked a wound on our nation. One that left a terrible scar. A void where almost 3,000 hearts use to beat. They went silent on September 11, 2001.

For the past few years I have marked that day here, usually with pictures I took on trips to New York City – all with views of the World Trade Towers. This year is no different. For you see I had very fond memories of New York and the day the Towers went down left a deep scar on my heart.

The picture this year is of me (on the left) and my sister. We are standing on Liberty Island with the Trade Towers over my shoulder. It was a spectacular sight and I still get choked up when I see pictures like this.

But, looking back on us 30 years ago, I realize how fleeting time can be. Has it really been 30 years? There are children in school now who were born after the Towers fell – they have lived in a world that never knew the Towers. There were people born after that picture was taken that didn’t survive that September morning.

If only those two young lasses could have spoken from the picture and warned of things to come…

My parents are in their 80s now. They have seen history and world changes that 70 years ago would have seemed like science fiction. A man walking on the moon? Pictures from Mars? Organ transplants? Smart bombs? Smart phones and tablets?

But, one thing does run constant through the history of mankind – the bonds of family. My precious aunt passed away June 23, 2012. I have missed her every day since then. Time has not healed that wound. It was a personal 9/11. I continue to try and move forward, much like our nation did in those first scary days after terror and hate took down two famous buildings and stopped the beating of 3,000 hearts.

We continue forward because we have to – those bonds of family are essential, crucial, valuable and fragile. Savor them while you can, tend them, enjoy them, nurture them and protect them because we never know when the next cruelest moment might strike.

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under 9/11, Family, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, September 11, Sisters, World Trade Towers

I Will Never Forget the Bright September Day…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“I will never forget the bright September day, standing at my desk in the White House, when my young assistant said that a plane hit the World Trade Center – and then a second one…” ~ Condoleezza Rice ~

remarkable capture

I was a young lass toting around a Pentax SLR almost 30 years ago to the day when I captured this image.

I rediscovered it as I was sorting though my pictures. I’m on a mission to scan and digitally preserve as many as I can. The color in many of the photographs has already degraded into an almost black and white composition…but, the image is still there.

This picture managed to make me catch my breath for a fleeting second…for several reasons…

First, I didn’t recall taking the image…but that’s what 30 years of time and life do for you. Then, I always seem to have that reaction when I find a photograph I’ve taken of the World Trade Towers. It was a time of adventure and exploration in my life and the Trade Towers were one of my favorite places.

A first glance it appears the Goodyear blimp has just floated between the Towers, but a closer glance will show you it’s an optical illusion and it is actually in front of the Towers. But, the next shockingly amazing thing about this picture is the capture of the airplane flying just above the blimp. You can see it in front of the Tower on the right.

How eerie to see an airplane that close to the Towers knowing what destiny and history will bring 18 years in the future…

New York and the country lost a lot on that bright September day…

If we all look back, I’m sure we can think of things we have lost personally or have gone through that have been as devastating on a personal level.

I know I can look back over the last twelve years and at certain times say or think, “This has been a personal 9/11 for me.” There were no planes, no blimps, just loss, financial woes and in some cases emotional terrorism caused by betrayal.

On May 10, 2013 the 408 foot spire was raised and installed at One World Trade Center, or as it’s also known, The Freedom Tower. It was a happy, jubilant moment. A moment that reminded New Yorkers how resilient they were and reminded Americans how resilient we are.

So, for the struggles we suffered, we are now rewarded with triumph. It reminds me of a the saying: “Well, done thy good and faithful servant.” Like an old black and white western movie, good won over evil…the guy in the white hat beat the guy in the black hat…

I know, I will never forget that bright September day…so, as we struggle through with some of our darker days, remember, we will get our “Freedom Spire” someday.

And, until then, head high, and…“second star to the right and straight on until morning….” ~ J. M. Barrie ~

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Vintage Photo, World Trade Towers

This is What I Remember and Why I Remember, by Beverly Hicks Burch

It’s been 11 years today…and every year I remember it with the same ache as when it happened that morning.

That summer had been a dreadful summer for me personally. My husband of 27 years walked out on me for a new life with another woman. My health was in a continual decline. I had one outbreak of shingles after another, a constant fever of an unknown source and a list of other serious health problems too long to list. Just the weekend before 9/11 I’d been rush to the ER while out of town with a friend who was visiting her parents.

And then 9/11 happened…

I was alone that morning. I was actually still asleep, recovering from my health crisis from the previous weekend. My son who was with the Alabama Air National Guard was actually at the base that morning called me and woke me up.

He said, “Mom, turn on your TV! We’re being attack! A plane as been flown into one of the Trade Towers in New York City.”

I asked, “Honey, are you sure it’s an attack? You know a plane flew into the Empire State building back in the 1930s or 1940s.”

‘’Momma, this was a large passenger jet, full of people and it was aiming for the Tower!”

Then as we were talking the second tower was hit and there was absolutely no question as to what was happening.

Air travel was shut down that day in the US, but my son’s wing was launch later that day to do refueling runs. During one of those runs they flew over the smoldering damage at the Pentagon. Yes, there was positively no question as to what had happened. The US had been attacked much like it had at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

It was a seminal day in the USA and in my life.

A year or so ago I was going through some of my older photographs and I came upon this one. It instantly gripped my heart and brought back memories and reminded me why 9/11 had affected me so personally and continues to do so. Yes, it had affected me as an American…to see the attack on our soil, see so many innocent people suffer in such horrific ways. But, there was something else…

I remember the very first time I saw the Trade Towers. It was the early 1980s and I was a young lass from Alabama fulfilling a lifetime goal or as we call it today, marking off a bucket list item…and that was to visit New York City. In my case I not only had an opportunity to visit, but I was going to be living in Westchester County just north of the City for several months, so I would be visiting the city often.

I took this particular picture one day as we were driving into the City. I was actually sitting in my car (a 1980 5 speed Toyota Corolla if memory serves me) and I was quite taken with the view. I took the shot with my Pentax 35mm which has long since died and given up the ghost, but served me well for many years. I’m not really sure if I managed to capture a lightning strike in the upper right of the picture or if that’s a scratch on the surface of the picture. Either way, it chilled me when I saw it considering the events that unfolded on 9/11. Some 30 years later it appears as a spooky, ominous harbinger of things to come.

I may have share this picture before, but given today’s somber anniversary I can’t help but share it again. Because every time I look at this picture I am reminded of one of the reasons 9/11 affects me so year after year. For you see, not only did I see these monolithic giants from afar, but I stood as far atop on one that the public was allowed, in the observation deck and looked out on a 360 degree view of Manhattan that was breathtakingly stunning. It was the sun setting on Manhattan and the lights beginning to twinkle and come alive one by one across the city. It was magical.

I will never see that particular view again…no one will…and I grieve that loss…along with the thousands of lost souls who no longer walk upon this earth.

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace; one must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it; one must work at it.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt ~

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


Filed under 9/11, Eleanor Roosevelt, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, September 11, Trade Towers, Travel

I Remember… by Beverly Hicks Burch

In six days we’ll mark an anniversary of the worst kind. As Americans we are given to celebrating and marking memorable events. Some are grandiose with bands, food, parades and fireworks. Others are rather solemn and somber.

Sept. 11th or as it has come to be known in our vernacular as 9/11 is an event I think we’d rather not have to mark. We mark the occasion of the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history. You can rewrite history or try to justify it, but that is exactly what it was. It was an evil cowardly act.

Everyone of us alive on that day has our own story to tell. We know where we were, how we found out and how we felt as we watched those giant twin towers fall into oblivion and history.

I like to try and remember the Trade Towers as they were. I did have the privilege of visiting them many time and viewing New York from the top…a sight never to be seen again.

I found this picture while going through some old pictures the other day. It made me cry…

I remember - World Trade Towers 1984

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


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Filed under 9/11, History, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, September 11, World Trade Towers

What’s Up with This? by Beverly Hicks Burch

What’s Up with This?

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Let me ask you something. Have you flown the “friendly” skies lately? Well, just in case you haven’t let me fill you in on the “pleasure of flying in the Brave New World…

First, you need to arrive at the airport hours ahead of your scheduled departure. Why? Simple. You have a whole lot of “security” measures you have to go through. You have to make sure you have plenty of ID…driver’s license, passport, anything with a photo, name, address, you know the drill.

Be prepared to pay dearly to check bags…the price range is your first born for the first bag and a child or pet for each bag thereafter. You are allowed to carry a wonderful 50 pounds per bag. For the average person that’s a few pair of underwear, shoes and jeans…you buy the rest where ever you’re going because it’s cheaper than paying the excess weight charge airlines charge at gunpoint check-in.

Then you have to go through the security check where they go through your bags. Nowadays you can no longer carry anything liquid or gel larger than 4 ounces on your person. If you do have something like that on you, it has to be in clear quart size baggies…no gallon size…quart size. If you use the wrong size it goes in the garbage. If you happen to be high maintenance and use several lovely products to maintain your beauty, well you can use as many quart size baggies to squeeze those products into as you like. It’s also a perverse pleasure to pull those out, let me tell you 😉

If you happen to have an autoimmune disorder (called Sjogren’s Syndrome) like I do that is killing your moisture producing glands and you happen to bring a bottle of water from home to stay hydrated, well be prepared to toss that puppy in the garbage, too and be prepared to pay $800 for another bottle once inside the airport. (Yes, Virginia, there are people who taken advantage of bad situations.)

Next, be prepared to go through metal detectors, but before you do you will have to take off your shoes and all your jewelry. Gals, let me tell you here…an underwire bra will set off the detector…but, the “girls” have to have what the “girls” have to have…I hear x-ray searches are coming soon…groovy…

Then, you schlep to the gate where you sit in tiny stadium style seats, listen to insane conversation, hyper kids, irritable travelers and finally you hear your magic number called and you queue up for the pleasure of being crammed into flying tin cans that are usually overbooked and packed like a cattle car. You are “served” by surly attendants who have turned into bullies who just dare passengers to look at them wrong so they can use a federal law to throw them off the plane because they are “dangerous”…

I think they call this a volatile situation and I recommend sedation for the flight…

Oh, and there is also no more having loved ones escort or meet you at the gate for a final goodbye or hello…they might slip you some type of contraband…like a 6 ounce bottle of Lubriderm…

So, you may be asking, “What in the name of God happened to cause the change?”

Well, I can tell you this, it wasn’t because some little old lady that looked like Granny Clampett got on an airplane and hijacked it and caused the plane to plummet into the Kansas Cattle Stockyard. NO!

We suffer through these changes in our way of life because 19 Islamic terrorists (a word the current administration is challenged to use, even now) began planning mayhem on the USA in 2000 and brought it to fruition on September 11, 2001.

Now, let me ask you something else. Do you really remember 9/11? The fear, the terror, the sadness, the emptiness, the darkness, the anger? Or has your memory been dulled by the day to day fight to survive? Do you remember all the faces of 9/11? The Islamic terrorists bent on destroying the Great Satan (us)? The First Responders? The Victims? The heroes like United Airline 93?

There was another incident that lent changes to air travel. The infamous British “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. Reid was the British born son of Jamaican Colvin Reid who was of African descent and British born Leslie Hughes. Reid’s father was a career criminal and Richard himself began a career in crime at a young age. He was advised by his father to convert to Islam because they got better food in prison. Umm, great reason for a conversion…pretty self-serving…no thought of the ol’ afterlife there or doing better for mankind, but then bombing innocent people doesn’t do others too much good either… Next time Richard was sent to prison for his crimes, he converted to Islam and he became known as either Abdul Raheem or Tariq Raja.

Upon his release from prison, Richard joined the Brixton Mosque which was lead by Abu Hamzu al-Masri who was a rabid anti-American cleric. Before long Richard had Al Qaeda ties and was training in terrorist camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Are you beginning to see a pattern here? On a side note, why are American companies outsourcing American jobs to these countries where the people hate us? Especially when we need jobs so badly here in this country?)

Finally in December 2001 Reid boarded a plane in Paris that was bound for Miami, FL. He was wearing shoes that were loaded with plastic explosives. I think the intent was clear…he intended to blow up the plane and every living soul with it.

And, thus my friends that is why we take our shoes off now when we want to go see grandma, go to a family funeral or travel to a cancer treatment out of state or even to a business meeting…

Because of an Islamic terrorist

Now, in my world 2 + 2 = 4. But, in this strange new world there is strange new “math” at work…

For instance…did you know there are children as young as 4 on the TSA “no fly list”? Or 8 year olds? There was one particular poor kid who was given a “pat down” when he was as young as 2 years old! Recently I saw on a couple of news shows a 12 year old who is in the same boat. Of course the TSA denies this…but so did OJ and Scott Peterson…

Now, here’s where I’m having some issues…how the heck in this day in age does someone like Faisal Shahzad, an apparent US hating, Pakistan born Muslim become a US citizen (just last year) get a gun permit, plastic explosives and large amounts of fertilizer (albeit the wrong kind…guess he misses his ride on the Martyr Rocket for bumbling) make a car bomb (fortunately ineptly), place that bomb in Time Square and board a plane to Dubai, make it onto the runway (and contrary to what’s being portrayed, Shahzad was a hair away from being a free bird) and do all this without being on the radar?!

Meanwhile, Granny Clampett and 2 year old kids are patted down at the gate and put on the TSA “no fly” list and Joe the Plumber jumps through hoops of fire to fly to Disney World…just watch, the powers to be will use this to “amend” our Second Amendment Rights…also known as our right to bear arms when all the “powers” have to do is their job to keep the bad guys from doing their job…

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Mike BloomingIdiot Bloomberg, sage that he is, bet 25 cents the bomber probably was some duffus that was upset and went off the reservation because of Obama’s healthcare plan. No profiling there, huh, Mike? While he’s scraping egg off his face, I was wondering, “Where in the world is Rudy”?

All this just keeps me wondering, “What’s up with this…?” 2 + 2 is not adding up to 4 with these people… Makes me think mortgages and the economy aren’t the only things upside down and underwater…and don’t even get me started about the Crotch Bomber…

© 2010 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


Filed under 9/11, Airplane Travel, Faisal Shahzad, Islamic Terrorist, Mike Bloomberg, New York City, Politics, Richard Reid, Shoe Bomber, Terrorism, Time Square Bomber, Travel, What were they thinking

The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM) Diaries – Chapter 3: Compass or Where in the World is Bev? by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries –

Chapter 3: Compass…or Where in the

World is Bev?

By Beverly Hicks Burch

What’s your idea of adventure? I realize the idea or concept of adventure is relative to each individual. To some a few dashes of habanera sauce over their food or going mustang one day when they forgot to wash their underwear (translate: they venture out the front door sans underwear ^-^…oh, yeah, it happens) is adventurous.

Now, I’ve never considered myself a particularly adventurous person. I guess because I view adventure as jumping out of an airplane with a thin piece of fabric between me and death (some call it skydiving); or jumping off a tall building or bridge with a big rubber band tied around my ankles as adventurous (some call that bungee jumping); or spelunking…you know crawling around in small, dark, damp, bug and bat filled caves as adventurous and fun…and I just don’t have an inclination in going in those places…EVER…and that’s why I’ve never view myself as adventurous.

So you can imagine my surprise when my Momma told me one time she thought I was adventurous. I was as the British say, gobsmacked.

It happened back in January of 1988. My paternal grandmother had just passed away. Versie, or Mamaw as I called her, and Mom to her boys, was one of a kind…and sometimes that “kind” was like a stubborn ol’ mule. She definitely liked being noticed and sometimes she wouldn’t stop short of antics to attract attention.

Well, in typical Versie fashion, Mamaw passed away during one of the worse winter storms in our “neck of the woods”. Oh yeah, we’re talking bitter cold, ice and snow…remember we’re talking the South where most of the time we’re not prepared to deal with the powdery, icy stuff.

Just the “S” word causes marathon bread and milk lines in the grocery stores and school closings. An inch of winter wonderland will shut a city down…and with this particular storm we were talking several inches and roads that looked like ancient glaciers. Yep, Versie would garner a lot of hoopla getting her family together for her final farewell.

You see, Daddy was still working in project management for Rust Engineering in Birmingham, AL. At the time he was running two jobs in Broward County, FL and he was on the job site in sunny, snow free Florida when word came. Mamaw was not doing well and, finally had not made it through her final crisis.

Daddy set about immediately trying to line up a flight from southern Florida back to East Tennessee were Mamaw had been living. The weather was so bad many airports were closed and when Daddy finally was able to get a flight headed North that just might get him to East Tennessee, well, it was via Pennsylvania. No kidding.

Then on top of that, his luggage was lost by the airline…floating around in airline Hades. When Daddy touched down outside of Knoxville all he had was the clothes on his back and all you snowbirds know, sunny Florida wear just won’t hack it during the frigid breath of Old Man Winter.

Well, Momma being the true Steel Magnolia she is just wasn’t going to stand her man being out there in that condition…Old Man Winter didn’t know who he was facing. Momma packed up some warm cloths for Daddy, called me and let me know my Daddy needed us urgently. The family snowball was rolling downhill like a steam engine. (Of course we would have gone for the services you silly goose! But, that was later, this was NOW!)

At the time I was a “minivan” mom. We loaded up my minivan with Momma, my disabled younger sister, my ex (Gomez is his code name for my writing), my son and me and we headed out at the blistering speed of a snail pace! Hand to God, I kid you not…

You see, we were driving on big sheets of ice or as I fondly (no, I wouldn’t say hysterically) called them…glaciers. I sat in the third back seat of the van, feeling every slip and slide the van made, saw cars as we passed them lodged in ditches where they had spun off the road and I was white knuckled every time we passed a monster 18 wheeler.

As some point, I must have muttered something like, “I hope we don’t end up as ink spots under the 18 wheels of a big truck” because I heard my little Momma say, “Why, Bev I thought you were adventurous.”

“Huh? What does dieing under the wheels of a truck have to do with being adventurous, Mom? Why on Earth do you say I’m adventurous?”

“Because you like to travel.”

Well, there it is folks…maybe I am adventurous because I do like to travel. So, there’s adventure spelled “Bev” style and the reason I chose the Compass block for The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diary Quilt.


Compass Block – The BamaSteelMagnolia Diary Quilt

I guess I do have a little bit of wanderlust in me and I love to see how the “other half” lives. Sometimes I’d like to pretend I was a raven hair gypsy with big gold hoop earrings and a “traveling wagon” just going across the world seeing this big wonderful Earth that God created. I even love to travel by car…

I’m the type that enjoys the trip as much as the destination. Sometimes I think air travel hampers that, especially nowadays. Air travel is no longer “glamorous”. I think air travel has actually created “flying cattle”. I had the “privilege” to experience that first hand recently. But I digress…

I’ve seen some wonderful things and have been some wonderful places. I value the Creation, i.e., the beauty of our World just as much as anything man-made…and many times more so. Memories are burnt into my mind and can never be robbed from me by anyone…only time or age, but they are memories of places I will always cherish.

I would be hard pressed to name just one favorite…would it be standing on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine breathing in the surreal view of the North Atlantic, sitting at a sidewalk café in old Quebec City? Watching bison in North and South Dakota? Standing in awe at Mount Rushmore? Smelling the sulfur as it filtered past my nostrils as I gazed out over the vast caldera at Volcano National Park in Hawaii?

Dancing Bev May 1991

Did Bev have fun in Hawaii?

Trying to comprehend the unbelievable vastness of Lake Superior, driving Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia? Watching the glow during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, or seeing in person the wonder of the mysterious stairway in Loretta Chapel in Santa Fe? And which lighthouse do I say, “This is my favorite one.” Oh, no that’s an impossible task, but I will never forget climbing the spiral staircase of Split Rock Light in Minnesota as the smell of burning birch wood wafted up towards me.

Bev Gooesberry Falls MN June 1987

Bev at Gooseberry Falls, MN ca 1987

Heavenly! Will I even forget the view of New York Harbor from Miss Liberty? No, who would?!

Bev & Pam in NY Nov. 1983

Bev & Pam, my sister, on Liberty Island, ca 1983 – note the Trade Towers over my shoulder

One experience I am so very thankful for is the privilege of being able to stand atop one of the World Trade Towers in the observation deck and view Manhattan and the surrounding area as the sun went down and the lights in the City sprang to life. I will NEVER be able to have that experience again, it is lost in history. Unfortunately there are generations of Americans who will never have that opportunity either…that is a tragedy…

In January I had the opportunity to do something on my “things to do before I die” list…or as it’s called nowadays, the “bucket list”. It has been a lifelong goal and dream of mine to visit the Grand Canyon. Tall and Handsome and I took some time to do that last month, and it’s a trip we will never forget.

We just had a weekend, but we are soooo glad we went, and we enjoyed the way we visited. You see he was in Arizona on business for a couple of weeks, but had a free weekend. He was at the offices in Tucson and Scottsdale. I shared a few pictures from there…”rooms with a view” type things previously in my blogs.

Well, that Friday when he left work we drove north to a little town called Williams, AZ where we stayed overnight. Believe me when I tell you…there is a big difference in temperature. Down in Tucson and Scottsdale if the temp fell below 70, the heat was cranked up big time! This Southern girl thought she would DIE. I mean that it sleeve weather and open window weather where I come from!

But, as we drove north we began to see that aforementioned white stuff…yeah, snow! And, boy did it get colder…

Williams is about an hour from the Grand Canyon, but we opted to take the train from Williams right to the village on the South Rim. It was such a neat and novel experience and I would recommend you try it at least once. Once we arrived at the South Rim, we were right there…and the tour company had a tour bus lined up for us. The tour took us along the South rim for some breathtaking views of the Canyon.

I can not tell you what it was like to see it for the first time. T & H and I both agreed it was almost emotional. It was stunning, it was breathtaking… I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t a superlative or adjective big enough to fit the Canyon. One of my first thought was, “How can you look at this and not realize there is Something, Someone bigger than man?” We both agreed that we hope we never become too jaded to appreciate the wonderment of this kind of natural beauty.

It will leave you speechless

Every View You Speechless

The eye never tires of these views

You Never Tire of These Views

Clouds were moving in from the left

A Walk in the (Snow) Clouds

Look close and see the mighty Colordo River

Can You See the Colorado River?

Don't ask - I don't think I could get my mouth to do that again if I tried

I DO NOT Know How I Got My Mouth to Do That! T & H said he looks like a Mighty Whitey…it was Sooooo Cold and Windy

Meet the engine up close

Our Homeward Bound Engine

It was cold while we were there (actually the best time for me to be there given my health problems and how badly heat affects me). Highs were in the 40’s and 30’s and the lows were in the teens. Yes, there was snow in spots and places and the forecast called for more. As we looked out across the wind swept mouth of the Canyon, I remember watching as the clouds grazed the Northern Rim and I thought, “We’re walking in the clouds”. (The elevation was over 7,000 feet and that was an experience in itself for a two time lung cancer survivor!)

We were taken to our lodge and after eating we both were so exhausted we collapsed into bed. I wanted to be ready for the next day…wanting to capture as much as I could before we had to catch the train back.

We were greeted the next morning with snow flurries as we made our farewell round in the Village at the South Rim. We caught shuttle buses to take us around to the shops, wandered through the lobby of the El Tovar which sat right on the South Rim and then left the warmth of the fireplace to brave the brisk wind and spitting snow to walk over to the Hopi House.

And then, to the Rim for a few final glimpses…last looks just to burn into memory the views, the colors of this National treasure…I had a hard time tearing myself away…

We went on to the train depot, and as the train gently carried us south, my tired body and mind tried to take in everything I had just seen.

So, there it is…adventure BamaSteelMagnolia style…and the very reason for the Compass block. There is no way that block would be left out of my diary quilt. My points my not be quite as sharp as they were years ago before illness started taking effect, but my thought on that? C’est la vie! So what?! My points and quilting are a lot like the travel I love so dearly…I love the trip as much as the destination or end result…

Now, if only that Compass would tell me where I’m going next…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, Birmingham AL, Diary Quilt, Gooseberry Falls MN, Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Knoxville, Lighthouses, New York City, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilt Blocks, Southwest, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Travel, World Trade Towers

I Do Remember…, by Beverly Hicks Burch

I Do Remember…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

The ringing of the phone jolted me out of my sleep that morning at a little passed 8:00 AM CST. On the other end was an agitated and alarmed male voice admonishing me, “Momma quick, turn on the TV. The World Trade Towers have been attacked!!”

What?! How could this be? Surely I was having a hideous nightmare. “Son, what do you mean the Towers have been attack?!”

“Momma, quick…hurry, just turn on the news! It’s awful…we’re under attack!”

With a trembling hand, I reached out and grabbed the remote and clicked on the TV. Oh, dear God, he was right! How can this be possible?

As he began to fill in the details of the unfolding events I sat in the bed…my eyes transfixed on the TV screen…not wanting to watch, but knowing I had to watch. And, as I watched, my son began to spill out the horrific details of that fateful morning.

“Mom, we were all standing around getting ready to started the day (they had been in the ready room or command center room, whatever those military types call that kind of room…he was at the AL Air National Guard base at the time of the attack). Mom, we have the big screen TV on in the room (usually it was on news channels to monitor world situations). All of a sudden one of the guys hollered out one of the Trade Towers in New York had been hit by an airplane. I turned around to see what was going on just in time to see a second jet approach the other Tower and fly straight into it. Momma, this was a deliberate attack…we’re at war.”

Of course by then, as he gave me a blow by blow detailed account of the morning thus far, the major news outlets were looping over and over the scenes my son had witnessed just minutes before on TV. I sat there in stunned disbelief. I couldn’t possibly be seeing what I was seeing…yet, there it was…broadcasted around the world.

As that September morning continued to develop, God in heaven help us, what I saw next was even more horrifically unbelievable. At 8:59 AM CST one of the gleaming, steel and glass pinnacles of the New York financial district began to fall…it slid down upon itself amidst a gigantic column of dust, ash, debris, steel and glass and human life. The North Tower was gone! Oh, God no! My first thought was, “Oh dear, Lord, all of those people inside! Help them please!”

Of course this became more fodder for the news media grist mill and the collapsing building was added to the loop of the planes flying into the Towers. I sat there and held my breath…afraid that one little breath would surely place the last colossal, burning Tower in peril. I hoped and prayed this Tower would be spared and become a symbol of survival and reminder.

But, alas, like a womb twin, this solitary survivor seemed unable to stand alone without its twin. Suddenly at 9:28 AM CST pandemonium broke out…people were running away from the site like their lives depended on it…and they did.

Just like the first Tower, the second began to implode upon itself, collapsing downward in a single column of destruction only to become nothing more than part of the world’s largest junk heap. As it made its deliberate slide downward…all my memories fell with it. Like the earlier Twin, this one would also become the final resting place for many souls. Parts of Lower Manhattan lay in ruins…looking like a bonafide war zone…people, wounded and some miraculously unharmed, wandered the streets covered in a white powdery ash. Most were almost catatonic with disbelief.

Evil had not done enough to our country and our countrymen in New York City, the city that seems to never sleep… As the morning had continued to move forward in a surreal state more rumors started flying…and then were confirmed. Another rogue jet had hurled into the Pentagon in Washington DC at 8:37 AM CST.

News flashes advised us there was yet another suicidal controlled jet still in the skies above the USA. Reports hinted it was also aimed for Washington DC…possibly the White House or Capitol Building. For the first known time American military pilots were faced with shooting down a jet liner full of their own countrymen.

But the patriots on United 93 had surmised what was happening. Through cell phone calls with loved ones on the ground they had been told of the morning’s events. They vowed not to let their flight become another weapon of terrorism against their country and they took matters into their own hands and launched a counter-attack. They rushed the cockpit of their flight and at 9:06 AM CST United 93 slammed into a field outside of Shanksville, PA. They understood and epitomized “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NASB

Our air transportation system was shut down and would remain so for months. Only military planes had clearance to fly the US skies.

At that point, I knew the world as we knew it had ended…

My heart broke and ached and I shed many tears that September morning seven years ago…

United States soil had been attacked by a terrorist group out to bring down the Great Satan (translate the USA). We would never be the same…as a nation and as a group of people. Our lives and way of living in the land of the free would change forever. We would have to become hyper vigilant…CAUTION: there’s an unattended bag or package…even an otherwise harmless looking child’s book bag would have to be viewed as a suspicious potential weapon.

How we travel across the USA would change, too. They took away our scissors (no more hand appliqué on long flights for me), our nail files, certain liquids and cosmetics (another big inconvenience for a Sjogren’s syndrome patients because we need to keep our throats, mouths and eyes moist). Airport security became a gigantic hassle adding long lines and insult to injury when we became forced to remove our shoes at the security checkpoint. Crazed terrorist had found a way to kill with shoes…

There would be no more flying the friendly skies…

For a time we pulled together and rallied as a country. 9/11 had become this generation’s Pearl Harbor. Songs were written and sung, American flags flew everywhere. Thousands of pictures of loved ones lost and missing were plastered everywhere, asking “Have you seen this person?” Compassion and concern could be seen once again on the faces of Americans in the street going about their daily business.

And, then as human nature is want to do, people began to forget. Just like the Israelites of the Old Testament…who began to forget…and grumble and complain. The Israelites had suffered slavery and oppression at the hands of the Pharaoh of Egypt for generations. They had cried out to God for deliverance…for freedom. The great I AM, Jehovah God sent then a deliverer in Moses…Pharaoh’s adopted son of all people! After battling the Pharaoh for the freedom of his people, with God’s help, Moses won their freedom. They must prepare and leave quickly for their exodus out of Egypt…thus, the history of Passover.

But, after fleeing Egypt and beginning the trek towards the Promised Land, attitudes and memories began to change. They were tired of pushing forward…and heaven forbid they were certainly tired of eating that manna from heaven! They began to gripe and complain, moan and groan. Surely, they said, their lives had been better in Egypt! Maybe they should return. They had forgotten! They forgot the oppression, the slavery and the whip of the taskmasters…just because they were a little inconvenienced. And, as a result, they lost their vision and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years…

Now, Americans have forgotten what was at the root of the 9/11 attacks and the war on terrorism…they forgot the almost 3,000 souls that where vaporized in places that should have been one of the safest places…their work place. They forgot the sights, the sounds and the smells…the sounds of hundreds of emergency homing units emitting a haunting, shrill wail, indicating the spot of a fallen emergency and rescue worker.

They forgot the images of panicked, frantic souls flinging themselves off the sides and out of windows of the Trade Towers. These poor souls were willing to take their chance with a fall…or face a known end and breath precious air to the very last…rather than face the ungodly inferno behind them that was smothering them with super heated air, singeing their throats and lungs.

Many Americans have forgotten the falling debris that showered down of the streets below…papers from offices in the Trade Towers, building materials and office equipment and they have forgotten the waves of white hot clouds of ash roiling down the streets of Manhattan seeking to engulf, consume and suffocate the very air from all left standing.

We have fallen back on the old political hack of political correctness…afraid to breath wrong least we offend. How dare we consider what some call “racial profiling”? After all, there could be an 85 year old Caucasian granny hijacker willing to fling her life away and commit terrorism. I mean, come on, after all what does she stand to loose but a set of dentures! How utterly, insanely ridiculous!! Why is it wrong to investigate people of certain groups who harbor known hatred for the US and avow to destroy the US and its people? They have made it their life work…their mission in life. You can not negotiate with blind hatred…

Some delusional souls would have us think a conspiracy theory that claims our own government set up and perpetrated the attack. Just the logistics of such a conspiracy would be mind boggling and involve thousands of co-conspirators and take years to plan. It is illogical and grasping. Sad, desperate, sick people will seek attention any way they can…this is the lowest of low…

2001 was a bad year for me. I had been the victim of a form of personal terrorism and betrayal from someone I had trusted the most. I was gravely sick much of that summer, even having to be taken to the ER the weekend before 9/11. My windshield was smashed sitting in my driveway. A tornado hit and damaged the house, the air condition unit flooded downstairs, and even though he hadn’t lived there in months and did nothing to help restore the house, the ex, Gomez the unremarkable demanded half of the insurance money. What a Prince!

And, then 9/11 happened…

As I watched the news coverage that morning waves of grief swelled over me that were devastating. When I saw the Towers fall I remember thinking, “I’ve been there. I stood under their shadows. I stood at the top of one Tower and breathed in the magnificent panoramic view of New York and the surrounding area. Oh my God, never again, never again…how could this happen?”

An unbelievable seven years have passed since 9/11/2001. My world has changed in more ways than I could imagine. My son, my only child was deployed and activated the day of 9/11. His unit flew refueling runs between Alabama and the northeast. They refueled military jets that were patrolling the skies of the US during those dark days, keeping us safe. On one run just hours after the attacks, he literally saw the Pentagon burning from the air. He was later deployed to the Middle East several times with his unit where once again he flew refueling runs. (He had been a boom operator in the AL ANG.)

My life moved forward. I met and married a white knight…my Tall & Handsome who has offered me love, acceptance, support and encouragement over the last few years.

They say time heals all wounds. Well, I don’t know that I can agree with that, but I can say this…time does cause wounds to scar over and protect the wound. But, on occasion that wound can be pricked at and reinjured. The one thing time should not do is give us amnesia and cause us to forget. People that forget are doomed to repeat history and mistakes over and over again…

Never forget…never forget…never forget…

The Hicks Girls in New York - Nov 1983

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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Filed under 9/11, Conspiracy Theories, Gomez, History, New York City, News, Passover, Pearl Harbor, Pentagon, Racial Profiling, September 11, Sjogren's Syndrome, Tall & Handsome, Terrorism, United 93, World Trade Towers

Kung Pau USA, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Kung Pau USA

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Tell the children to leave the room. Their eyes just may be too young and tender to read and accept the following…the Fortune Cookie is not Chinese. If you travel to mainland China, good chances are, you will have a hard time finding a fortune cookie. In Hong Kong they are marketed as “genuine American fortune cookies”.

In reality, fortune cookies were introduced by an immigrant named David Jung in the city of Los Angles. The recipe was based on a Japanese cracker.

And that, my friends, is a very good example of the homogenization of Asian and Oriental food in the USA. Most large cities have very defined “Chinatowns”. I will never forget the exotic sights and smells of “Chinatown” in New York City when I was living in Westchester Co., NY in the early 1980’s. The upper West Side of Manhattan near Broadway is called Szechuan Alley because there are so many Chinese restaurants.

Today it’s not uncommon for even small, little, tucked-away hamlets in the most obscure places in the United States to have Chinese eateries. When Tall & Handsome and I lived in northwest Alabama in a small little town called Winfield there was a Chinese buffet there. They served up some pretty good Chinese food and it was a pleasant surprise to find them after moving from the big city of Birmingham.

Americans have assimilated and adapted Chinese food as their own. According to Jennifer 8. Lee, author of the book and blog The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food there are more Chinese restaurants in the US than McDonald’s, Burger King’s and KFC’s combined. In my finite mind, that’s a pretty heady fact! (Ms Lee shares another little juicy tidbit…there is no real P.F. Chang. The PF represents Paul Fleming who is the creator of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and P. F. Chang’s Chinese Bistro.)

Born of immigrant parents, Ms Lee has a fascination with Chinese and Chinese-American food. Her family was like any other…they bought take-out Chinese in the little cardboard boxes, but she had play-by-play critique from her parents on Chinese-American and “real” Chinese. Real Chinese food is full of more exotic ingredients than we would normally find or use here in the States.

I can attest to that. I’ve mentioned before I took a Chinese cooking class in the 1980’s at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I took the class with my sister. Our instructor was a little slip of gal named Thanh Madeleine Maring. Thanh also had a food column in our newspaper. Thanh was Vietnamese and was well trained, having received some of her chef training from some of the finest cooking schools in France.

Thanh’s recipes used some of the more exotic ingredients of Chinese cooking…snow peas, Chinese five spice, fresh ginger root, sesame oil, Chinese cabbage, Hoisin sauce, lotus root, different types of soy sauce, fish sauce and fermented black beans. We may find many of these ingredients in our mega supermarkets nowadays in the ethnic food section…right along with the selection for another of my favorite Asian foods…Thai. Some of the more exotic items still have to be sought out at specialty markets.

Back in the `80’s Pam and I had to go to a little Asian/Oriental market in downtown Birmingham in the Southside not too far from the UAB campus. We had to go there if we wanted even a half pound of snow peas! So you could see how preparing homemade Chinese for us would have been a big presentation. When you walked into this little market you were instantly hit with a cacophony of transcendental aromas. It was an instant trip through China, India, Africa and parts unknown.

I learned a lot from Thanh. How to make a good pot of rice…wash the rice before cooking it until the water runs clear. My personal Bevizing? I cook the rice in chicken broth with a pinch of kosher salt unless I’m making the rice for a sweet dish like rice pudding. Thanh recommended a wok…flat bottomed and never buy one that sits on one of those rings. She sold some she had imported from China and I still use it to this day.

Thanh also knew something Jennifer 8. Lee confirms in her book. Real Chinese food is not smothered in thick batter when it’s stir fried. My recipes of Sweet and Sour Pork/Chicken Thanh taught in the class is a classic example and is one of the reason I won’t order Sweet and Sour anything when I eat Chinese out…I’ve been spoiled by the real deal. It’s like I told T & H…once you’ve had mine…you’ll never go back.

Of course Thanh used ingredients available to her in America. One dish many Americans are very fond of is Beef and Broccoli, but broccoli is not a traditionally used ingredient in “real” Chinese food. So, I guess we could say it is Chinese-American. Nonetheless, it’s one of my favorites and this past weekend I made my adapted version of Thanh recipe for Tall & Handsome. So, without further ado I’ll be glad to share my real adapted version of real Chinese-American food…Bev Burch’s Beef and Broccoli.

Welcome to the melting pot!

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.


Filed under Birmingham, Chinese food, Chinese-American Food History, Cooking, food, Fortune Cookies, New York City, Tall & Handsome, University of Alabama at Birmingham