The Texas City Disaster . . .

Not much new at work today,mostly just looking at some YouTube videos on different WordPress themes. When I finally move our two company websites from our in-house server up to Godaddy, I want to change the WP theme to something new, and a little easier to support.

I did get some use of my Duolingo Spanish lessons when we had a order from Zaragoza, Spain. We needed some clarification on the order so I gave it a shot. And I guess it worked because I got an answer back that I could also read.

I did have to be careful, because Spain Spanish is different from Mexican Spanish is different from South American Spanish. And South American Spanish is what I’m most familiar with.

Even the address can be strange. In Columbia, South America, where I lived, 3rd floor would be translated as ‘3er Piso’, or ‘Piso 3’. But in Spain, 3rd Floor is 3°.

Yes that’s a degree sign. It actually stands for the ‘o’ in ‘piso’ or ‘floor’. And since many apartment buildings don’t have number on the doors, you can also see an address like 3°, 5a. This means ‘3rd floor, 5th door’, with the ‘a’ coming from the word ‘puerta’, the Spanish word for ‘door’.

The other problem is getting the USPS online shipping software to take these strange addresses and print out a shipping label. But we finally got the package on its way.

When we moved to Texas and Houston in Dec. 1978, we very quickly heard about the 1947 Texas City Disaster.

On April 16th, 1947, 71 years ago today, the SS Grandcamp, tied up in the Texas City Harbor and loaded with 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and exploded, it sent a 15’ wave of water for 100 miles,  leveled over 1,000 buildings, destroyed the Monsanto Chemical Company plant, and 1000’s of cars.

Texas City Explosion 1

Then 15 hours later the nearby cargo ship High Flyer, also loaded with ammonium nitrate, exploded, killing many of the police, firefighters, medical personnel , and even sightseers, who had rushed in the area.

Officially 567 people were killed, with 63 never identified.

Texas City Explosion 2

Additionally 113 people were listed as missing, since no body parts were every found. And it is speculated that there might be 100’s of other dead, visiting seamen and their families, travelers, etc.

On a more personal note, 27 of the 28 members of the Texas City Volunteer Fire Department were killed.

So imagine how Jan felt when years later our son Chris announced that he had just been hired as a Texas City Fireman.

Tomorrow Jan and I are heading up to Baytown for a consulting gig. A friend of a friend has an access gate that is controlled by a WiFi/Internet phone app. But it doesn’t work. In fact it seems it’s never worked right.

I’ve done some research, including downloading the manual, and I’ve got some starting ideas on what the problem is, or at least one of them. I suspect that this might be one of those cases where it’s a two-part problem. So we’ll have to see.

Thought for the Day:

I’m always profoundly disappointed when a liar’s pants don’t actually catch on fire.



3 Responses to The Texas City Disaster . . .

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Well, no kidding…you have no doubt had some sleepless nights at times with your son’s job…sometimes it is best we don’ think about what our kids or grandkids are doing much.  One grandson of ours LOVES snakes and reptiles…it is a miracle he is still alive living in the country in NC…SNAKE country indeed!!

    And your saying today?  WOW that would be helpful in some cases, such as with our soon to be “ex” son-in-law…he is some great story teller…too bad it not all the truth!!


  2. David Evans says:

    I worked at that Monsanto plant for 32 years and was on their emergency response team!

  3. Nelson Cooper says:

    Greg & Jan:

    I assume that you are aware but in case not, there is an excellent museum in Texas City that explains that disaster.  It is located “downtown” in an old department store (think Penneys or Sears).  The great upside to that museum is that in the upstairs they have an absolutely awesome model train display.  That display is only open on Saturdays but there are individuals there who love to visit and explain the various layouts.  We have visited several times and are always amazed at this layout.

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