Bill and Lorraine Garvey with three of their prized pumpkins

Written by Bill Garvey on the evening of October 10, 2001, one month after the terrorists hijacked and flew two of our passenger planes into the World Trade Center, the following story conveys Bill's quest, with the help of family and friends, to shine a compassionate ray of light into the dark corner of pain, hunger, grief and despair which enveloped New York in the aftermath of the attacks.

As the rescue crews searched around the clock for suvivors trapped beneath the smoldering mountains of molten steel, dust and debris in what eventually became known as "The Pit" and/or "Ground Zero", Bill Garvey and his wife, Lorraine, were in Michigan, praying for a way in which they might be able to help in the rescue and recovery efforts. Who would have thought the answer to their prayer would be found growing in their own backyard?

Angels in New York
By William Garvey, October 10, 2001

What do you do with the prettiest pumpkin you have ever grown?

My wife, Lorraine, and I were wondering just that, when we were trying to decide what to do with our best pumpkin. It weighed over 500 pounds and was perfect in shape. Over the last month, our pumpkins no longer meant as much to us as they once did (since the events of September 11, 2001.) Two weeks ago, I woke up and knew what to do with our best pumpkin. I would take it to New York, N.Y. I told my wife, Lorraine, then went to work and told my boss, Jill. They were all for it! So, off I went trying to find a place to take it.

After just over a week of frustration, I was starting to get discouraged and didn't know what to do next. Then, Jill came up with several new people to contact, and maps of where to go, we were finally going to get the go-ahead to succeed.

On October 10, 2001, one of our leads finally came through. We received a call from the American Red Cross at the New York Family Assistance Center. It was like a dream come true!

"We would love to have the pumpkin!" they said, "When can you deliver it?"

"I want to deliver it tomorrow," I said, "on the one-month anniversary of the crashing of the World Trade Center."

"No problem!" they said. "We would love to have it!"

"I have to carve it first," I said, "Then, I can leave at 3:00 a.m. and would be there by 4:00 p.m. tomorrow."

"That would be great!" they answered.

After I hung up, Jill instructed me to, "Go home and get it done."

Lorraine and I carved the pumpkin for six hours, only cutting it one-half inch deep into the skin, mainly because they wanted it to last for several weeks and this was the only way we could do that and keep it fresh. Normally, we cut right through to the inside, but if we did that, it may not have lasted until Halloween. We began the operation on October 10, at 4:00 p.m. and finished at 10:00 p.m. By the time we finished loading the pumpkin, it was 11:00 p.m.

The finished face of the pumpkin revealed the image of a little boy praying as the left eye and the image of a little girl praying as the right eye. Each child was surrounded by a heart. The nose was carved in the image of the firemen putting up the flag at the World Trade Center. The mouth was formed by using the letters in, "AMERICA", and shaped to make a smile. We wanted to tell everyone who had lost so much that they were in our hearts and in our prayers.

At 3:00 a.m. on October 11, 2001, I left for New York City. What a drive!

When the sun came up over the mountains in Pennsylvania, as it crested the top of them, it lit up the valleys on both sides of the road with a fire of fall colors as far as I could see. I have never seen so much beautiful country in one trip in my life. It was at that moment that I felt someone with me.

Tears filled my eyes and I said aloud, "God, I don't know whether that is you or if it is one of your angels. Please help me make some of these tears go away." I began singing, "America the Beautiful", and it calmed my heart.

Thirty miles from New York City, I was beginning to get a little worried that I would miss a turn. All of a sudden, a voice came on the CB.

"Hey, Michigan! How much that pumpkin weigh?"

"Just over 500 pounds," I told the voice.

The voice came back, "What are you doing with a pumpkin that is 500 pounds that says, "America" on it?"

I replied, "This pumpkin is going to the Red Cross Family Assistance Center in New York City."

The radio got real quiet for a minute.
Then, the voice said, "Are you doing it by yourself, or do you have someone sponsoring you?"

"It started as my dream," I explained, "but my boss at work in Michigan helped me make it happen. She let me go home early to carve it and let me have a few days off to make it happen!"

This truck driver from Buffalo, New York, whom I had never met in my life, helped me for the next thirty miles!

"Move over a lane," he said, and then warned me to, "Slow down. The road is going to get rough for a few miles."

It was almost like he was helping me drive my truck. This angel followed me all the way to my exit, the Lincoln Tunnel.

When I left his company, he asked me to convey a message.

"Hey, Michigan, when you get back home, tell your boss that New York says, 'God Bless her for letting you come'!"

I replied back, "Thank you for getting me there!"

I made it to the Red Cross Center with no problem. After I arrived, I had to go through an extensive search of my truck. I met some great people! Several of the police officers couldn't believe that the pumpkin was real (after a bomb-sniffing dog checked it out, I guess they believed me). One of the young police officers from New York City asked me how long it took me to carve the pumpkin, to which I replied, "About six hours."

"God bless you, man!", he said. "How long did it take you to get here?"

"About eleven hours." I said.

"God bless you, man!" he said again.

I chuckled, "I thought you guys would be happy."

He said, "You can't even imagine how many kids you are going to make smile."

"Thanks!" I beamed, "That is why I came!"

We were both just standing there smiling. Then he said, "My brother was in one of the towers that went down."

Grabbing one of his shoulders, I said, "Dear God! I am sorry!"

"You came so far," he said, "I can't believe you care so much."

"Everyone I know in Michigan and all over the United States cares as much as I do!" I said.

The young police officer then pointed to all of the other police officers from all over the United States who were helping. He started naming all the different states they were from. Then, he looked at me.

"But to have someone come like this means you really care!"

"I have had a knot in my stomach since this all began, and all of you have been in our hearts ever since!" I replied. "People like you are why I came."

On the 12-hour drive home, I had a smile on my face and tears in my eyes as I thought about the two angels who had forever touched my life. My only goal in going to New York was to help all the people who had lost so much, feel a little better.

Thank you, American Red Cross, for helping me achieve my goal, and New York, New York, for having me. . .


Bill Garvey
Click on photo to contact Bill!

Click on images below to view the larger version.

The Design Layout Lorraine, laboring with love Loaded up and ready to go Dressed for the trip Arriving in New York

"Angels in New York" ©2001 William Garvey
(With editorial assistance from Nancy L. Meek)

Song playing is "Mist", composed and sequenced by:
©Andy Klapwyk "Original Midi Music"

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