Aunt Elaine helped build the World Trade Center...
For six years ending late December of 2006 when she went to be with the Lord, my Dad's sister, Elaine Bayly, lived with us here in Bloomington. She arrived just days before 9/11 and she brought a personal perspective on that day because she'd spent years of her life building the World Trade Center. Thus 9/11 and Aunt Elaine have always been bound together in our family's memory.
Aunt Elaine spent about seventy years in the same apartment on Parsons Blvd. in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens and for a number of those years she worked as a secretary for the project manager of the construction of the World Trade Center, the Tishman Company.
Elaine was personal secretary to Tishman's number one and number two men on the project and her dear friend Abe Levine (number two holding the position of Deputy Construction Manager) provides this account of Aunt Elaine's work there.
We had nine secretaries, but at the World Trade Center she was the personal secretary to the man at the top and the second in command. She took shorthand at a mile a minute. We turned out hundreds of letters a week.
We had documents that ran forty to fifty pages, and some of them had to be done over again, every single week—like the minutes of our official meetings. She did those and she did them to perfection—like a masterpiece. They were full of technical stuff (we were doing engineering) and they were always done to perfection.
The other girls all looked up to her. Everyone respected her. When she did a letter, it was a masterpiece. No one else was like that.
It was extremely hectic at the World Trade Center. One day we were having a meeting with the Port Authority—all the bigwigs...
We had one secretary who was a big lady. She used to be a policewoman and her name was Jean. Another woman was very small and a chronic complainer—very grumpy.
One day we were having our meeting with the Port Authority and Elaine came into the meeting and gave me a note that said, ‘The big secretary and the little secretary are having a terrible argument.’
All I could do was nod my head and hand the note back.
A few minutes later, Elaine came in and handed another note to me that said, ‘The little one hit the big one and the big one is crying.’
Again, all I could do was nod my head and smile. She went out and had to handle it. She was like a mother to them, a mentor to all the secretaries. She was reserved, but not with them. With the other secretaries—I call them ‘the girls’—she was very outgoing with them.”
After the first World Trade Center bombing (in the minutes before the second tower was hit and they both collapsed), Aunt Elaine’s reaction was to announce, with authority, “Oh they’d never knock that down. If they knew how deep the pylons went. They’d never knock that down.”
We miss Aunt Elaine and give thanks to God for the years He blessed our home by her usually cheerful presence.