A Dollar And a…Dream?
If you think anthrax-tainted mail is a nightmare, imagine the risks were terrorists to tinker with our currency. That’s the fear that clutched one Fifth Avenue resident on Nov. 3 when she left her building and spotted a $1 bill in front of 925 Fifth Avenue. She reflexively reached down and pocketed it. However, the next morning she took another look at the bill and noticed that there was something scary written on it.
“Osama bin Laden is my hero,” it said. The lady, fearing the bill might be tainted, called 911. The police responded to the scene and took the suspicious dollar into custody, placing it in an envelope and hauling it off to a Department of Health lab for testing.
Many cab riders quickly develop issues with their drivers and the hair-raising way some of them navigate the city’s canyons. But few take their displeasure to the lengths that one unknown passenger apparently did on Nov. 11, when he left a hand grenade in the back seat of a yellow cab.
The police first became aware of the situation when they got a call from the cabbie, a 67-year-old gentleman, on his cell phone from 68th Street and Park Avenue at around 12:30 p.m., informing them of the presence of the explosive device.
A lieutenant with the Manhattan North Task Force, whose patrol car happened to be a couple of blocks away, heard the call come over his police radio and responded to the scene. He confirmed that there was indeed something that looked very much like a grenade in the back of the cab and summoned the Emergency Service Unit.
Vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area was stopped as a precaution. The E.S.U. arrived and secured the suspicious object, awaiting the arrival of the bomb squad. The bomb squad showed up and deemed the grenade to be inert, but a grenade nonetheless. They removed it without further incident.
The cabby’s surname appeared not to be of Arabic or Middle Eastern origin, and the cops apparently never considered the incident to be bias-related.
W.T.C. Memorial Trophy
The police have been the recipients of much good will since Sept. 11, ranging from cards and letters to home-baked cookies-but the sports trophy that arrived at the 19th Precinct station house in recent days stands, quite literally, in a league of its own.
The monument, won by one Lawrence Wright for his first-place finish on Sept. 29 in the 11th Annual Twin Towers Classic International Karate Championships, soars six feet off the ground on prismatic silver columns, and is festooned at various plateaus and pinnacles with winged seraphim. The whole structure culminates with a bronze, black-belted figurine delivering a nonstop, brain-scrambling karate kick straight to the face of an opponent.
“I promised myself if I did well I’d donate it to the NYPD,” explained Mr. Wright, an expert on building automation with Johnson Controls, who was working in the World Trade Center complex the morning of the attack. “I figured maybe that would get me back intact mentally. I went back not knowing how I’d perform at the tournament.”
Even though the event is named after the World Trade Center, it takes place at a gymnasium at Queens College. Mr. Wright, who lives in Allentown, Pa., and commutes to work here, beat 10 other fighters to win first prize in the intermediate division.
“I was inspired by the whole thing,” he said of the tragedy. “I just wanted to do well for those who couldn’t be there.”
He schlepped the trophy home to Pennsylvania, then back to Port Authority on the bus and over to the midtown office building where he was assigned one recent morning, and from there to the 19th Precinct on his lunch break.
“I wanted to donate it to one of the downtown precincts,” he explained. “But being it was in honor of the whole police, fire and E.M.S., I figured this would be the closest.”
The trophy currently resides in the community-affairs office of the station house while the police attempt to locate a suitably important place to display it. “It’s a beautiful trophy,” acknowledged Stephen Petrillo, the precinct’s community-affairs officer. “We’re going to make up a nice sign” to go with it.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wright had his picture taken with Captain Howard Lawrence, the 19th Precinct’s commanding officer. In the photograph, Captain Lawrence stands beside Mr. Wright, who flashes both a victory smile and also a lethal, karate-chopping right hand poised to fight for freedom.