Fate spared one worker at Congoleum-Nairn blast
To the Editor:
I am one of the “older folks” who remembers the explosion at the Congoleum-Nairn. I was 10 years old at the time. Both of my parents were employed at the plant. My father worked there for many years and my mother joined him when the Nairn began war work. Yes, they did make more than camouflage netting. My mother learned how to run a lathe and made the nose cones for bazookas! (Ammunition was filled in elsewhere.) My parents worked opposite shifts day/ evening so one of them could be home with me. However, on the day of the explosion I was at the shore for a week as the guest of my aunt and uncle. When the news reached us I realized that one or the other of my parents would have been at work. Our family did not have a phone nor did the bungalow at the shore. It was a great relief when I received a letter a few days later from my mother stating that my dad – for the first time ever – was assigned to the midnight shift that week.
My father was a volunteer member of the Nairn’s emergency squad. I learned that he immediately donned his hard hat and headed down hill from our house on Highland Ave. He was one of those workers looking through the rubble and debris for bodies.
I’m still a Kearny resident and often pass the remaining Nairn buildings. When I do, I thank God my Dad was on the midnight shift for one week of the 39 years he was employed.
Joan Miller McCann