squeegee that helped six escape WTC goes to
April 6, 2002
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's just a squeegee, but it's
going to the Smithsonian Institution. And what a
story goes with it.
Window washer Jan Demczur was on a break, getting
a cup of coffee when the first hijacked plane
slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade
Center, trapping him and five other men on an
elevator at the 50th floor.
When they managed to pry open the elevator doors,
instead of an exit they found a wall. Demczur used
the blade of his squeegee to carve a hole through
which they could crawl. It took 45 long
minutes, then the men raced down a stairwell and
got out five minutes before the tower
collapsed."It was pretty lucky I was window
cleaner and had my tools with me," the
48-year-old Polish immigrant said Friday.
"It's something I'll remember all my
"People call me a hero, I'm lucky to be
alive," he said. "A hero is people who
give their life in New York, here in Washington or
in Pennsylvania."Demczur has been cleaning
windows for 14 years but he has not scrubbed one
since the attacks.
He said he is dealing with the trauma by spending
more time with his wife, Nadia, and their two
children. He does not know when he will return to
work, but promises it will not be at any
Meanwhile, his trusted squeegee is now a part of
history."This is evidence of survival,"
said David Shayt, curator of the Smithsonian's
National Museum of American History. "No one
had a knife but they had an unexpected means of
escape."Demczur said he thought about keeping
it, but Shayt told him that donating it would mean
up to 6 million visitors would see it every year.
"He said 'people are going to see how you
were fighting for life ... the way you saved
yourself,"' Demczur said.Other items Demczur
donated include the tool's leather handle, a
soot-covered, blue janitorial uniform and a pair
of brown, dusty boots.The museum has not decided
where or how the items will be displayed.
On the Net:Smithsonian National Museum of American
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