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Remembering 9/11: A surreal sight, and a lost friend

Valley News Columnist
Published: 9/11/2021 10:18:32 PM
Modified: 9/11/2021 10:25:08 PM

When Peter Fahey reached the top steps of the subway station in New York’s financial district shortly before 9 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, letter-size sheets of paper had already begun to rain from the sky.

“The first thing I remember seeing was all the paper,” said Fahey, a 1968 Dartmouth graduate who now lives in Hanover.

Countless sheets fluttered through the air from a thousand feet or more above, touching down on the streets of lower Manhattan.

“My God,” Fahey said to himself. “What to hell is going on?”

Fahey could tell from their voices and facial expressions that people on the street were upset, but he still didn’t know why.

“Finally, somebody said a plane had flown into the World Trade Center,” Fahey said.

Smoke was starting to clog the air. Fahey quickened his pace. His office at the Goldman Sachs’ world headquarters on Broad Street was only four or five blocks away.

In his office, Fahey reached for the phone to call his wife, Helen, who was at home on Long Island. By then, a second airliner hijacked by terrorists had crashed into the World Trade Center’s other twin tower.

Even after Fahey assured his wife that he was out of harm’s way, she “didn’t want me to hang up,” he said. He kept the phone line open the rest of the morning.

For years, Fahey took the train from Long Island to Penn Station in Manhattan before riding the subway to the financial district. By September 2001, however, Fahey had retired after nearly 20 years at Goldman Sachs, where he’d been a general partner since 1982.

Fahey still went to his office at the investment banking firm once a month to do “odds and ends.” One of his monthly visits to the office just happened to be 9/11.

After the terrorist attacks, Fahey learned that a Dartmouth classmate and friend, Jeff LeVeen, was among more than 2,700 people killed at the World Trade Center.

In 2002, during an annual ski trip out West, about 20 members of Dartmouth’s Class of ’68 held a small memorial service.

It wasn’t easy, but they found a CD of LeVeen’s favorite song from his Dartmouth days to play at the service. The Boy From New York City had first been recorded by a soul group called the Ad Libs in 1964.

Later in the trip, Fahey, now 74, and some of his classmates stopped for lunch at the restaurant at the top of the mountain.

Playing on the restaurant’s PA system when they walked in: The Boy From New York City.

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