The Horror That Shocked America

Published October 6, 2020

Yay! It’s finally fall!!

We hope you are excited for late September/early October’s issue of the A and L Magazine!! In this edition, you will find a book review and a movie review, art, an interview about  9/11, some fun facts, a tech tip and much more. Our poll on favorite Halloween candy in our neighborhood will be included with your (and most of the rest of the neighborhood’s) information, so thank you so much for contributing to that if you did! 

To find out more about Halloween, keep in touch with the CDC and Governor Cooper’s new stay-at-home orders. Hopefully, we will have more information to give you in the next edition, which should come out a few days before Halloween.

Lastly, feel free to share our website with your friends and family. We have updated it so that it is much more informative and has many more interactive items in it. Now, in addition to the digital copies of the magazine, there are videos of us cooking Puns n’ Recipes that we created, reviews of movies and songs that come out every week, piano pieces played by Leeya that were mentioned in song reviews, information about who we are, how to contact us and much, much more! Here is the link from the last issue in case you lost it: 

Enjoy reading!

-Leeya and Adalia

Interview: 9/11 (an Exclusive Interview with Sejal Mehta)

Sejal Mehta: I’m Sejal Mehta and I was living in New York City on 9/11 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

Adalia: What could you see and what was it like?

SM: I was an assistant district attorney at the time. And I was working the night court shift the night before. That shift is four pm to two am. At nine o’clock in the morning, my cousin woke me up with a phone call and said “Have you heard what happened?” I walked outside and everybody was walking towards the Brooklyn promenade, which faces downtown Manhattan. When I got there, everybody was looking over at the other side of the East River watching the smoke from where the Twin Towers used to stand. There were pieces of paper, from the burning towers, flying over to us. This is how close we were. But the most eerie thing about it is that there was not one person talking in a crowd of hundreds. We were all in complete and total shock. We were just speechless…as New Yorkers, as Amercians. And, for once, we New Yorkers, who love to talk, had nothing to say. 

A: After the shock, after everyone was kind of like ‘Okay this is really happening,’ what did you think of everything?

SM: I was working in law enforcement and listening to daily stories about families looking for their loved ones. When you walked around Manhattan, you saw signs posted everywhere that said ‘Have you seen my loved one?’ along with a picture of their missing relative or friend. Also, for many weeks, when you were within a few blocks of the World Trade Center, you could smell the smell of dead bodies. The stench of burnt human flesh stayed in the air, just curling around. I still have not gone back to see One World Trade Center.

Leeya: So that’s how it still affects you, or how does it affect you today?

SM: Okay…So my view of the city that I loved…it was as if somebody knocked out the two front teeth of a person’s smile. That’s how stark it felt to look at the New York City skyline. I am happy that it was replaced by One World Trade Center – the tallest building in the country. It stands for the optimism of our country and a reminder that we should always dream big. On 9/11 every year,  twin blue lights beam up four miles into the sky as part of the Tribute in Light art installation. 

L: And, what is or what was the reaction among people near you?

A: Besides the shock, did anything particular happen?

SM: People were just…people were angry. They wanted to get back at whoever did this. I went to high school in a suburb in New Jersey, where several people worked in the twin towers. I knew that there were kids who lost their fathers and mothers because of this. And it was heartbreaking, because they were just innocent civilians – people who did nothing but show up to go to work.

A: How do you see things differently between kids versus adults who kind of understand more about what happened? How is the reaction or how is what people think of it different?

SM: It felt like for the first time, we were not safe enough, even though we had two oceans bordering each side of the country. There was war right here…on our own soil. We knew the United States military fought in wars in other parts of the world, but when there was a war right here, literally in my backyard, less than a mile from where I lived – it was scary.

L: Does it still affect you today?

SM: Although I didn’t personally know anyone that died, there were almost three thousand people living in the tri-state area that died and six thousand that were injured. At that time, I realized the importance of family. On that day, it really helped being with family. My brother lived in Brooklyn and we both took a subway to my sister and brother-in-law’s place in lower Manhattan. There in her one bedroom apartment, we watched the horrible news unfold on the tv. But I felt safe and protected because I was with my family. Really, it taught me about the importance of family during times of crisis.

A: One question I just thought of…How did security stuff change and how did that feel?

SM: Security changed completely. Before 9/11, there were no security lines and you just walked in straight to the terminal and boarded the plane when it was ready. Your friends and family could say goodbye there and then go back to their parked cars. After this, everything changed in terms of security. 

L: Yeah, because you could just board with a gun or a knife because they wouldn’t check.

SM: And you could go and board a plane without waiting in long lines and taking your shoes off. 

L: Did you know any of you law enforcement? Did they go in?

SM: I worked with police officers everyday, who went to the World Trade Center scene to help with the clean up. And, they were just traumatized by what they had seen. And they and the first responders were heroes for all of the courageous work that they did.

L: Oh! Yeah!

A: So, you were talking about how other people were angry. Did you feel any of that anger?

SM: Yes. I love this country! 

A: This is not the way to create change…

SM: You know what was wonderful? It was a time when New Yorkers really came together. Everybody was so nice to each other – on the subways, on the streets, in stores. It was like we were just all going through something together and we were being extra loving and extra kind to complete strangers.

L: How long did it last for? This whole New York being…

SM: Several months. 

L: What was the weather like on that day in New York City?

SM: There was a perfect gorgeous blue sky and not one cloud in sight. And then you see the burning buildings. It didn’t make sense. It was a disconnect. It was intense. But, you know, when you go through something like this, you come out stronger in a lot or ways. We came out stronger as a city and we came out stronger as Americans.

Tech Tips: Change Your Wallpaper

Does the background of your screen on your phone or computer ever get boring? We’ve made some basic instructions to help!

*Make sure to have a good picture in mind so you are ready to set it!*

  1. Go into settings and search for “wallpaper” by swiping upward so the search bar appears or by scrolling down. Wallpaper may be located in “personalization.”
  2. Click on “choose a new wallpaper” and select your photo.
  3. Set the photo as home or lock screen. (Your home screen is where your apps are and your lock screen is the first thing you see when the phone lights up.)

Barking Mad!

Sequoia trees have bark that can be over two feet thick near the base! The bark thins to less than 2 inches near the top. It is there to protect the trees against the California wildfires and lightning. And … not a single sequoia has died because of lightning, yet! Despite this, many sequoia trees have burnt tops from lightning storms and fires. The bark thickness is not surprising when you consider that the sequoia tree can reach heights of 250 feet! Did you know the average sequoia tree has enough wood to build 50 six-room houses? The sequoia tree is one of the last two of its genus and despite the release of millions of seeds every year there is only a one in a billion chance a sequoia will germinate.

The Social Animals

In Switzerland, it is illegal to own just one guinea pig because guinea pigs are social animals and they are considered victims of abuse if they are alone. This law was made to boost the pet guinea pigs’ sense of home and belonging because guinea pigs are actually herd creatures! And you may be wondering what happens when a guinea pig dies … but they have a plan for that, too! There are rent-a-guinea pig services all over Switzerland now. And guinea pigs are not alone. Goldfish cannot live alone and parrots must interact with other birds regularly. Even cats must “be able to see other cats when prowling or staring through a window.

The Candy Poll!

If you filled this out, thank you so much for your response!! We put this in an earlier edition than expected because the data was so interesting!

We surveyed 42 people and 2 dogs from 20 different households to see what the neighborhood’s favorite candy is. Out of these households, Reeses was by far the top candy, followed closely by Snickers and then Twizzlers. About 67% of people’s favorite candies are chocolate based, while 27% are sugar-based. 3% of the polled people (actually dogs) enjoy dog treats as a “candy.” 

In order, to make the graph concise and easier to read, we had to combine a few candies but will give them a mention here. One person liked WhatChaMaCallIt and someone else liked Pay Day so we combined it into a section of peanut brittle based candy. In addition, we learned about some new candies like Bocce (Baa-chee) which is an Italian Kiss that is bigger than the American Hershey one. We also had someone that said they liked Dark Chocolate Hershey Kisses. We also shortened Chocolate Covered Caramel M&M’s to M&M’s. Our participant let us try some which we loved and were crunchier and sweeter than regular ones. They were yummy!

Candy Conclusions: Who won?

In conclusion, it is obvious that Reeses was the favorite. I mean the perfect ratio of peanut butter and chocolate all in a dense cup … What’s not to like? Snickers were second with Twizzlers close behind. It seems that the peanut candies have won out. We hope you enjoyed seeing the results of our candy poll! Thank you to everyone who participated, we received so many answers with a great variety of candies. Hopefully, Halloween will happen this year!

Our visual representation of the winners and their thoughts:

The Fun Basket

By Neel

Meant to Be by Bebe Rexha (ft. Florida Georgia Line)

This is a great song to sing along with! It is easy to get to know the words after listening a few times and the combination of Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line’s voices harmonizes perfectly. The passion in both of their voices only adds to the fun. The beat stays smooth for most of the song which makes it easy to listen to as well. The words of this song might help us realize that what happens will always come to pass.

If you visit our website ( you will find some of our weekly reviews and videos of Leeya playing them!


This movie is a tale of friendship and music. It begins when Yi, a young teen who has lost her father, but wants to travel the world to the places of his imagination, finds a Yeti on her roof. Everest has lost his Yeti family and longs to return to the mountain where he grew up. Together they will visit the places of Yi’s dreams and bring Everest home, but only if they can escape a rare animal collector and an evil zoologist. Yi’s violin and Everest’s humming go together perfectly. Can this magic and music be enough to stop the wrong-doers?

Puns n’ Recipes

Feel hungry? Learn how to make a sofishticated snack!

BONUS PUN! Why do fish always sing off key? You can’t TUNA FISH!!

Use the recipe below to make a delicious tuna fish salad or follow the instructions for substitutes of chicken and hard-boiled eggs:


  • 2 5oz cans of plain tuna fish
  • 1 celery stick
  • 5 mini-pickles
  • ¼ tsp of dried dill weed
  • 1 T favorite mustard
  • 3 T mayonaise


  1. Open your cans and make sure to drain out excess juice from tuna.
  2. Add this to a bowl and use a fork to mash lightly until you have a preferred texture. Less mashing if you want more chunks, more mashing if you want more chunks.
  3. Dice celery and pickles into small pieces and add to the mixture.
  4. Add dill, mustard and mayonnaise. Stir until the texture is perfect.
  5. You may need more spices or sauce so make sure to taste your food before serving.


Do NOT add salt to this. The tuna fish is already salty enough and you don’t want to overpower everything else.

This tastes really good on top of salads, sandwiches and even by itself.

If you prefer hard-boiled eggs, substitute the tuna with 4-6 sliced or chopped eggs and do not add the celery.

If you prefer cooked chicken, substitute the tuna with 1 cup of diced chicken and substitute the pickles with 10 or so grapes. Visit our site ( to find a tutorial video!