Archive for April, 2013

Memories of Marion (Dawson) Gunderson on Being a Young Mom Fighting Pollution

April 25, 2013 1 comment


Marion (Dawson) Gunderson now lives in North Carolina.  She lived in the White Lake area in the 1970s and 1980s.  A young mother of a toddler son, she became concerned about chemical smells in the air and set out to find out more about this and how it might affect her family and community.  She developed and used an informal survey for her neighbors and determined that the odors came from the Hooker Chemical Company.  She brought  her concerns about air pollution to state environmental officials, and this along with other local efforts, was instrumental in bringing local pollution issues to light and ultimately getting cleanups underway.

Listen to Marion’s interview

It was done via Skype, so you may need to adjust the volume for best listening.

Her interview, along with the others completed to date, helps to “paint a picture” of the 1970s and 1980s.  One conclusion I am drawing is that it didn’t take a huge number of people to make a difference.  A small group of people with diverse backgrounds and talents rose to the occasion to alert the community to the hazards of industrial pollution, so it could be addressed properly. I am thankful to all of them.

Your comments?  Please post them here!


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Dan Parker’s Story: Growing up a “Hooker Kid”

April 19, 2013 2 comments


Dan Parker has an interesting story to tell.  He grew up in Montague and after living in many different places, including Germany, is now back in his family home.  In his interview, Dan shares what it was like growing up a “Hooker Kid,” as children of Hooker Chemical Company employees were casually termed.  He explains how he gradually changed his viewpoint of the company as he became a young adult.

There are themes that run through Dan’s interview that can be found in other interviews:  how at first, the overall community attitude toward the new chemical companies coming to the area was positive, and how over time, even some of the biggest supporters of the new industries began to realize that there was a cost to the boost to the local economy –  a cost that some would eventually conclude was too high.

Listen to Dan’s interview here:  Dan Parker Interview

What are your thoughts?  How do you compare the benefits to the economy with the costs of environmental cleanup and the stigma of pollution?

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Hooker Chemical Company: A Worker’s Viewpoint

April 4, 2013 2 comments


In the last several weeks, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be able to interview several people who worked at the area’s chemical companies.  I’ve especially appreciated their willingness to express their candid viewpoints, as I am sure they are aware that their opinions may not be shared by the majority of community members.

Longtime Montague resident Betty Nafe worked as a lab technician at Hooker Chemical Company, one of several jobs during her adult life.  Growing up during the Depression, she says she was glad to get the job and it was a good one.  Even though she did not have formal training in chemistry, Betty said she loved her work and felt as if she would have enjoyed a full fledged professional career in a chemistry related field.

When asked what she and other workers thought when pollution concerns associated with her workplace emerged, Betty said she was surprised because the thinking at the time was that having the plant in a sandy area meant that any contamination would be filtered.  But she also was confident that any pollution would be addressed properly by company officials.  She said that was what most workers at the company thought.

Listen to Betty’s interview here to learn more about her viewpoint.   Do you know of any former workers at our area chemical companies?  Did you work at one of the companies?  What are your thoughts?

Betty Nafe in the lab at Hooker Chemical Company

Betty Nafe in the lab at Hooker Chemical Company

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