How unlikely Korean War leftovers found a home on September 11th

By: Ruth Antrich, Paralegal, Legal Department

The Boots

I started working at Project Renewal in 1998 for Ernie Talbot. One of my first ssignments was to sort out the storage facilities that we had at the time at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. There was a huge room, almost a block long, that was filled with boots, army boots from the Korean War probably. Ernie had brought them down from Camp LaGuardia, a former army base where Renewal Farm was located then. What to do with the boots, which were so heavy, by the way, that I could barely pick up one boot, let alone a pair at a time. I tried a few likely places but no takers.

Then September 11 happened. Like many of us, I was devastated and in a stupor, glued to the television in the days that followed. I watched reports of the responders and volunteers at staging grounds near Ground Zero, and each day they would announce “we need masks” and another day “we need wheelbarrows” and so on. Then on Sunday, I heard them say “we’re going to need boots.” Boots, they need, BOOTS! So I rushed to the office, grabbed a boot and went down to Ground Zero.

I was sent back up to the Javits Center where hundreds of volunteers were milling about waiting to be helpful. I finally found the person in charge of requisitions and showed him the boot and asked if he wanted more of these. YES! Right away, a convoy of vans, fi re trucks, vehicles and people made their way across the Brooklyn Bridge with me. This mini-army loaded every single last boot and cleared out the storage room completely. We finished at 3:00 am.

What an exhilarating feeling after days of feeling there was nothing I could do and no way to help. Even better, not only did the volunteers and responders get heavy-duty boots to plow through the ash and debris, but we got an empty storage room at last!