The Millennium Arts Center was in existence for 7 years and hosted as well as was a part of many memorable events. One special memory was when I became friends with Margaret Truman, the daughter of Harry Truman and helped her find information about art galleries, artists, and new restaurants in Washington, DC for her mystery novel,“Murder at the National Gallery”. Ms. Truman had a reputation of using real locations of restaurants, hotels, monuments and museums in her mystery novels. “Murder at the National Gallery” was the first book where she used real people and it was in part because I introduced her to them.
At The Collector Art Gallery Restaurant, we had a book signing party for Margaret Truman’s, “Murder at the National Gallery”. Although Ms. Truman was not there, we had all the real characters in the book do the signing. Because of my help she used my two other projects in her novels,“Murder at the Watergate” where part of it took place at Art on the 7th floor at the Washington Design Center as well as ”Murder at the Ford Theater” where part of it took place at MAC and there was a chase scene all through the arts center. You must read it to find out what happens!
In “Murder at the National Opera” she wrote an acknowledgement, “Special thanks to Bill Wooby whose knowledge of the Washington arts scene has enriched more than one of my Capital Crime novels…”
At 9am on September 11th, 2001 I was watching the ABC morning news with Diane Sawyer and they started talking about an airplane that hit the World Trade Center. That morning it was a beautiful clear blue sky so I could not understand how a plane could mistakingly fly into any building. After a plane hit the second building, we knew all things were going to change.
We knew things had become worse when we heard a plane flew into the Pentagon. I went The Millennium Arts Center by a shared taxi and as we were passing the Washington Monument on the Mall we were looking up to make sure there were no planes coming. It’s hard to believe we were actually looking at the sky to see if planes were coming for the White House or the Capitol.
When I arrived at the MAC, Georgi Deneau was at work already and we both talked about the situation. We were only 5 blocks away from the Capitol and we knew we were at ground zero for anything that was going to happen. People in office buildings around us were leaving, but it seemed like people in our building were going to stay and watch the news from The Millennium Arts Center as a group.
It was Georgi’s birthday on 9/11 so we had a small cake and birthday party in the courtyard. The conversation was all about what was happening that day. We had a short speech followed by a moment of silence. Artist Andres Tremols painted an American flag on a canvas so we could have a flag to hang off of the building. Life went on as days went by. One thing we started to realize was that support for non-profits became less and less as support for 9/11 recovery grew. Most non-profits struggled to survive and some died because of the stock market dive as well governments funds that changed focus to 9/11. We were earmarked for over a million dollars which disappeared over night.
One week after 9/11 there was an anthrax attack on Washington through the post office. When that happened we couldn’t contact anyone on Capitol Hill, phone calls, emails, and faxes were all stopped. We couldn’t even hand deliver something to the Capitol. Even the post office a block away from MAC was found with anthrax. We thought, “How could this get any worse?” but it did. All the mail delivered to us was by a mailman with a face mask and rubber gloves. Although I know it didn’t make anything better, once I received my mail I put it in the microwave and zapped it for a few minutes- at least it made me feel better.
The government was saying that we should have a food supply, water, toilet paper and duct tape. Apparently we were to have a room that we could go to for 24 hours in the event of an anthrax attack and use duct tape to seal all the open air spaces. At the MAC we chose the men’s room on the ground floor. We had closets full of bottled water, food, toilet paper, a rechargeable radio and duct tape. There was a shortage of duct tape. People were buying it like milk and bread on a snowy day.
This is but a glimpse of what was happening after 9/11.