The kegs were running dry at Langan's bar on west 47th Street - the beer delivery trucks hadn't made it into Manhattan. Soon after the crew of reporters from the New York Post arrived at their favorite watering hole, they switched from warm draft to bottled Rolling Rock.
No one cared that it tasted terrible. They were concentrating more on the television than the beer anyway.
The day's adrenaline rush was fading away after seemingly endless hours of witnessing, interviewing, writing, photographing. The city outside was crumbling, and no one could believe it.
Keith J. Kelly, media columnist at the Post, was among the journalists in the bar that night. He couldn't stop thinking about his two young sons, who had watched the World Trade Center collapse from their babysitter's window that morning. He couldn't stop thinking about a boat ride he'd taken with his wife the night before. A friend took their picture on the deck, the twin towers looming in the background.
Kelly's chatty, buzz-filled column was absent from the Post the day after the disaster. After walking 65 blocks to work, he'd spent 12 hours trying to figure out just who had been inside the decimated building - not an easy task, considering that most of the phones in New York weren't working. In the days and weeks that followed, he wrote about everything from victims to church services.
None of his colleagues was killed in the melee. One Post photographer was buried in the rubble, but he managed to dig himself out.
"He wanted to go back out there, but we sent him to the hospital," Kelly said.
Similar scenes played out in newsrooms across the country in the aftermath of September's terrorist attacks. The day the twin towers fell, Associated Press journalists worldwide jumped into the fray. Vacations were irrelevant - staffers sprang into action wherever they happened to be. Retirees came out of retirement. Sportswriters wrote news.
In New York, one editor jumped from the dentist's chair and headed for the office. An off-duty photographer grabbed a passing tourist's camera and later transmitted …