Editorial: That week in Dot as terrorists plotted

The cover of the Dorchester Reporter on Sept. 13, 2001.

Mid-morning on September 11, 2001, was a turn-the-page moment for the nation and the neighborhood. This week, as we look back as a people at the calamitous terrorist attack and its immediate aftermath, it’s instructive to look at our own pages from that week that was.

The Sept. 6, 2001, edition of the Dorchester Reporter featured storylines that you might spot in a 2021 edition, but with different characters in play: David Thompson and John Earle of Adams Street took first place in Mayor Tom Menino’s garden contest. There were photos of Jim Collyer, Mary Hines, and Josh Powell— all a central part of the All Dorchester Sports League— celebrating their entry’s baseball championship in the Boston Park League. (All three now belong to the ages.)

Letter: Recalling how Dorchester honored the first responders of 9/11

Adams Corner, our Page One headline trumpeted, was gearing up for an election eve rally on Sept. 10 featuring the nine candidates on the Sept. 11, 2001 ballot to fill the Ninth Congressional seat left vacant by the death of Joe Moakley earlier in the year.

“In Dorchester,” we wrote, “the election is expected to turn into a showdown between Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston and Brian A. Joyce of Milton, who together represent more than half of the neighborhood in the state Senate.”

Tom Finneran was speaker of the Massachusetts House and was busy advising his constituents in Dorchester and Mattapan on how to oppose a proposal to build a Stop & Shop supermarket on what was then the old Frank Wood Nursing Home on Morton Street. His argument prevailed. Maureen Feeney, meanwhile, was fending off five opponents to win her fourth term as Boston City Councillor in District 3.

HBO was promoting the Sept. 9 premiere of its WWII series Band of Brothers. Sept. 9 also marked the debut of a new Dorchester soccer league for kids that took the field at Pope John Paul II Park in Neponset, which had just opened to the public that summer.

C.F. Donovan’s was offering a prime rib special and 10 cent wings on Savin Hill Avenue. Big Moe’s BBQ had just moved from a food truck to a new storefront on Bowdoin Street.  The early bird special at Nanina’s — priced at $ 9.95— included a side of soup or salad, no doubt lathered in the Fields Corner eatery’s still-famous dressing. Not to be outdone, Sonny’s in Adams Village was offering an unspecified $3.95 special before 6 p.m. 

The Sept. 13 edition of the Reporter led with an “exclusive” interview with Bobby Corrigan, a 33-year-old Clam Point man who was supposed to be a passenger on United Flight 11 out of Boston to Los Angeles on that fateful morning. He overslept and just missed getting to the gate. There’s a photo of visibly shaken Corrigan surrounded by smiling friends and neighbors, one of whom quipped: “We’ve been calling him ‘dead man walking.’”

Steve Lynch, of course, was triumphant in the special election for Congress and the stoic Democratic nominee was shown alongside his wife Margaret beneath the headline: “Lynch soars as ‘inspired’ voters surge to polls.”

A Reporter editorial penned as the smoke still rose from lower Manhattan and as little was yet known of the attack’s origins, described it as “a torturous day, a day when America lost much of its innocence.” Twenty years removed, it seems harder to gauge just how innocent— or not— we were as a people pre-911. But what’s unmistakable is just how deeply the horrors of the day are seared into the minds of all who were alive to watch it unfold.

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