Event in Judy Blume’s New Book was Witnessed by My Mother and Grandfather

Judy Blume's upcoming book, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT.

Judy Blume’s upcoming book, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT.

I am very excited to hear that bestselling author Judy Blume has written a new book, IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT.  The book will be available in June.

Judy Blume went to the same grammar school as I did, Victor Mravlag School 21 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  We were there a generation apart, but we had Miss Anne Tobiassen as one of our fabulous teachers.  Miss T used to tell me about Judy because she knew I loved to write, too.

And read.  I’ve always enjoyed Judy Blume’s books, not only the ones she wrote for children that I read so long ago but her adult books, especially SUMMER SISTERS.  They’re all vivid and the characters stay with me forever, but the ones in that book really hit home.  One of them reminded me so much of an old friend…

Imagine my astonishment last night when my parents contacted me to read me an article about her latest book.  IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT is based on a true sequence of events: in the three months between December 1951 and February 1952, there were not one, not two, but three plane crashes all in…the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Want to hear of an unlikely event?  My mother, Mary Yoerger, and my grandfather, Teddy, were eyewitnesses to the second one.  In fact, they not only witnessed the crash, but were the first two people to reach the scene.

My mother told me last night that she and her father had been sitting on the porch of their house on Grove Street and New York Avenue in Elizabeth when they saw a plane flying far too low over their house.  “I think that one’s having trouble,” my mother said to the man I would later call my Pop Pop.

Suddenly they heard an enormous explosion.

“Let’s go!” Teddy said to his daughter, and they ran right to the car.

“If my mother had been home,” Mom said, “she never would have let us go to the scene of a plane crash.  But she hadn’t come back from work yet, so off we went.”

They found that the plane had crashed by Battin High School.

“It was strange,” my mother reported, “but when we got there, nobody was there yet.  The nuns from the St. Mary’s convent were right by the crash site, but they didn’t come out to see what was going on.  There was no one but my father and me.”

The two of them edged closer to the crash site.  Finally a police officer materialized, one who knew them.  “Teddy and Mary, get back,” he said.  “You don’t want to be near it if it explodes further.”

They did, and lived to tell the tale.

I’ve known this story for a long time, but until last night I had no idea there were three crashes in Elizabeth within three months.  I can fully understand why Judy Blume has used these events for the basis of a new novel, which will recount how the three crashes impacted a family.  What fun, though, to find out that this particular story also packed a wallop in mine!

I can hardly wait to read this book!

My mother, Mary Yoerger, at about the time of the first plane crash in 1951.

My mother, Mary Yoerger, at about the time of the first plane crash in 1951.

My grandfather, Teddy Yoerger.

My grandfather, Teddy Yoerger.


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