To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the passing of Fire Chief John T. Brennan. I had first met the fire chief a few years ago while attending mass at St. Henry’s Church.
I did not know who he was until a friend told me he was the fire chief who saved Bayonne of a disaster during the 1960s.
On a cold December evening, bullhorns blared on 22nd Street and Prospect Avenue and the surrounding area. We were asked to leave immediately because we were in great danger.
I could remember the night well, as a scene with chaos and a war zone atmosphere prevailed everywhere.
We all ran for our lives. A tenant of ours grabbed her young son in a large blanket and cried aloud as she fled the scene.
We all ended up in an apartment on 22nd Street and Avenue E at the invitation of a kind lady from the second floor facing Avenue F, you could see the propane gas flame that looked like a 1,000 feet high.
We left for safety reasons and stayed overnight with my grandmother. We found out the next day some brave fire chief shut off the valve and stopped the fire. This, of course, was John T. Brennan. It is a wonderful feeling to sit next to someone in church knowing this person saved your life, as well as many others and property, too, all at great risk to his own life.
Recently, I joked with John as we walked from church. I would have told him you saved my life. He passed too fast. But he never ever looked for a compliment for his brave deeds.
Last Christmas, I believe I gave him a calendar from the Community Bank and said, “You better look and put this calendar up. There is a picture of your namesake, the Fire Museum, in it.” I think it made him very happy.
I will surely miss this great friend as others will, whom I shared a special bond with because of his heroic efforts to save the City of Bayonne. But his memory will live on in our hearts and at his namesake Fire Museum on West 47th Street.
I should also mention that in the same area, another life saving hero has a namesake, park. Dr. Morris save my grandmother’s life in 1943 of double pneumonia. When no doctor would come to the house and she was near death, he came. We remember this good doctor also.
So, I conclude honoring these brave heroes of Bayonne. The street on West 47th near Dr. Morris Park and the Brennan Fire Museum should have an extra well deserved sign inscribed on it, saying, “Life Savers Way.”
BARBARA A. SIWIEC