The Powder Monkey

I went to a garage sale of remnants of a large collection of things belonging to an ex employee of the Hercules Powder Co. I got some unusual stuff and a book he wrote about Hercules.

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A very interesting find. I worked for Hercules back in the pre-ATK days, including some time at Kenvil. Of course that was somewhat before this book was published. I imagine that it was distributed only within the company. I think Kenvil was shut down after the ATK acquisition. The last time I was near the Kenvil plant was in the early 2000s, it was pretty much in ruins by then. It’s located fairly close to the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal. I am unfamiliar with the name of Harry F. Pascoe, but that’s not surprising. You might want to read this: http://www.thejeffersonchronicle.com/worth-powder-monkey/

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Jeez, am I the LUCKY one? I bought the last remaining copy, they said they had a dozen of them in the beginning. I also asked for any old photos. I was told that ALL photos went to his nephew. I wish I knew his nephew.

My first job was working at what was then called the U. S. Naval Propellant Plant at Indian Head MD (about 25 miles south of DC), in the Biazzi Nitroglycerin manufacturing area. At that time NG was being used to make casting solvent for solid propellant rocket motors. One of my jobs involved taking samples of NG from different areas of the facility and running them to the main lab, which was some distance away, for periodic QC testing, and I also did some of that testing, mostly water content analysis. I always put the samples into tubular black rubber containers, like large test tubes with rubber stoppers, which held about two ounces, for transport to the lab. The idea was that if you dropped a container, what was inside it would not go off upon impact with the ground. And I actually did accidentally drop one. Nothing happened, it just bounced like it was supposed to. I don’t remember ever being called a Powder Monkey. One bad thing about working there was the NG headaches, but you get used to that.

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