The Journey Home-From Chicago to Florida on 9/11

Don Duncanson, President, Dynacolor Graphics, Miami

We were on our way to the airport in a taxi after leaving the PRINT 01 show where we were to meet my friend Pete Stephens, his wife, and his salesman Scott who were returning a rental car. As we were approaching the airport, we heard on the news the first tower had been hit by an airplane and found it hard to believe. When the second tower was hit, we realized this was no accident.

The taxi pulled up and dropped us off with our luggage in front of the airport just as they were closing it down. We realized we had checked out of our hotel and wouldn’t be able to fly home, so Pete decided, when he turned in his rental car, to trade it in for a van big enough for all six of us to fit with our luggage so we could drive back to Ft. Lauderdale. Pete was the first in line and made the exchange for a van before others realized there was going to be a shortage of rentals. When the agency took him to the spot where the van was supposed to be, the spot was empty and there were no other vans. Pete told the man he wanted the van they were in, which he agreed to, and made sure he rented it with unlimited mileage. We were the only people standing in front of the airport waiting for Pete to pick us up. If anyone stopped, the police would pull up behind them and chase them away, yelling at them on a loud speaker.

There were six of us: Pete, his wife, my wife, my son Dave, Scott, and myself plus our luggage. It was a pretty crowded van. When we stopped for dinner, it was the first time we saw on TV the airplanes hitting the towers and the Pentagon. We took turns driving and, when my turn came, I drove through Atlanta around midnight without a car on the road. We stopped in Gainesville for breakfast and arrived at the Ft. Lauderdale airport early in the day–only to find out they wouldn’t let us get our cars out of the garage because they had closed the airport. It was several days before we could retrieve them.