May 24, 2012 |
It was just after 3 in the morning on June 20, 2007, when a mammoth orange glow lit up several blocks of rickety Kensington rowhouses. The first residents to realize that the abandoned factory at H Street and Westmoreland was ablaze scurried in nightclothes down their steps, thumping their fists against plaster walls, bellowing, "Fire! Fire!" to stir their neighbors. The flames in the city-owned building leaped so high and wide that Ivette Olivera woke up from the sweltering heat that turned her bedroom into an oven.
January 25, 1996 |
They'll be locking up the doors and turning out the lights for the last time tomorrow at the old Frank H. Fleer Co. factory in Olney. The closing comes two months after the announcement that the old-line Philadelphia business was relocating its gum division south and contracting out all card-related activities. I spent the first couple of weeks of December telling people I wasn't moving to Mississippi and Fleer was not going out of business. It looked that way, I must admit, when one local TV station announced "the Fleer baseball card company was closing its doors forever" and area newspapers made much about the company leaving the area for good.
February 18, 2000 |
The aging brick factory near the borough's Main Street - the one with the decaying roof that has been closed since 1990 - was a place of possibility when J. Bruce Tobin began working there in 1961. Known as Union Camp, it employed more than 200 people and shipped out tons of multilayered paper bags nationwide each year. Since its closing 10 years ago, the paper-bag factory has evolved from a manufacturing powerhouse into a vestige of the area's industrial history, a testimony to a changing local labor market that could not attract enough people to work at its mills.
June 11, 1992 |
Annie Carpenter sat in a courtroom and listened yesterday as a businessman offered $2.2 million "cash money" for the assets of the Burlington City tin- box factory where she'd worked for 40 years and lost four fingers. And she listened as another businessman offered less - $2.04 million - but also promised a judge he'd reopen the Atlantic Cheinco plant and give jobs back to Carpenter and a hundred other laid-off men and women. The judge liked the sound of "cash money. " So, at 2:40 p.m. yesterday, Carpenter, who lost her fingers 32 years ago to Atlantic Cheinco's powerful stamping machinery, who kept working to raise five children alone and to pay off her mortgage, also lost her job. In stunned silence, she and about 20 other Cheinco employees filed from the third-floor courtroom in Camden when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Rosemary Gambardella's decision ended two days of hearings.
August 12, 1990 |
While Ryan, Austin and Nolan Terrell show off their Batman toys and new radios, Wanda Terrell, the boys' mother, talks about the sickly lead scent that fills the air outside their Blackwood home. "You can't help but wonder if there's something in the air that could affect them," Terrell said. On Aug. 2, representatives of the Camden County Division of Health went door to door to collect blood samples from her three boys and six other neighborhood children. In a few days, she will learn whether the children have been contaminated by lead emissions from nearby Urban Casting plant.
May 24, 1992 |
Jim McCabe was looking for a subject that would make a meaningful play for the people of the Trenton area. "What was in my mind was the Revolutionary War. I knew there were battles fought here," said the playwright, a Dallas native. But when McCabe asked a Trentonian what he thought, the answer had nothing to do with George Washington's crossing the Delaware to fight the Battle of Trenton. "He said one word," McCabe recalled, "and that was Roebling. " As in John A. Roebling's Sons, the manufacturer of steel cable that for more than a century was one of Trenton's most prominent industries and for many years was the city's largest employer.
March 1, 1993 |
Down on the factory floor, where it smells of sweat and soldered metal, Alain Hauvel is counting the days until he goes on the dole. "Never thought such a thing could happen here," he muttered the other day. "Never could have imagined it. " He tapped a foot, took a puff and stole a glance at the assembly line, where the women busied themselves with the next batch of vacuum cleaners. Within the year, they will all be on the street. Hauvel had a good deal while it lasted. He had worked his way up to supervisor.
April 19, 1992 |
At the height of the Cold War, the Krasnoye Sormovo shipbuilding plant here produced a submarine every 10 days. Now, all work on the subs has ceased: The government won't even give factory director Nikolai Zharkov the money he needs to cut his half-built submarines into scrap. Across town, at the factory that makes the famed MiG warplanes, government production orders have slowed to a trickle, and plant director Vladimir Pomolov is seeking foreign buyers for his modern, $30 million MiG-31s.
June 1, 1986 |
When he graduated from Cherry Hill High School, Elmo Gibb, who was named after naval hero Elmo Zumwalt, could juggle "in several foreign languages" and play the balalaika. With these credentials, there were any number of careers he could have chosen. Gibb said he earned a college degree from the "Clayton Academy of Fine Arts and Vinyl Upholstery" and got his first job at the Penn Carbon Brush factory in Northeast Philadelphia. When the factory closed, he took what he thought was the logical next step.
August 11, 1996 |
The evening sky above this drab mill town's patched roofs and tarnished steeples is a Van Gogh swirl of pink and blue. Just off deserted Main Street, in the parking lot behind a rusting factory, a caravan of worn cars and pickup trucks arrives. Coaches emerge first, beefy men with thick legs, thicker bellies and close-cropped hair. They carry clipboards, and their swagger betrays their status in this football-mad region. Following slowly, moving in packs, are a few dozen high school players, muscular teenagers in numbered T-shirts, baseball caps, bandanas and shorts.