SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Danversport Explosion

November 20, 2007

Finding hope amid the rubble: The Joyces thankful for family, community's help

DANVERS — Donna Joyce's hope chest is symbolic.

It was the one piece of furniture that survived the Danversport explosion, and now it sits in the parlor window of Donna and John Joyce's new modular home at 9 Bates St.

"Now I have something to pass on to my daughter," she said.

John gave Donna the hope chest more than three decades ago, and during the blast, the chest shielded its contents -- most importantly, the christening gown Donna had made from her wedding dress for their daughter, Jennifer.

After being displaced for 10 months and living in a rented condominium, the Joyce family returned home to Danversport on Sept. 27 to their new pale green colonial with white trim, paid for by insurance.

"I'm extremely happy to be home, and it's more beautiful than anything I've ever had," Donna said. "We sit in the den and I say, 'I love my house,' and John says, 'I love my house, too.'"

The Joyces' old house backed up against the ink manufacturing plant that blew up. The night of the explosion, John was downstairs, awake, when the blast went off at 2:46 a.m. The force separated the stairs from the second floor, so they just hung by the carpeting. Donna, who has multiple sclerosis, screamed for her husband from their upstairs bedroom, while their daughter was in her adjacent bedroom.

Since that night, John said he was determined not to dwell on what they'd lost.

"I adopted the philosophy that all I needed was my wife and kids, and I'm all set," he said. Their son, John, is in the Navy stationed abroad, and was away during the explosion.

The Joyces threw a thank-you party on a recent Sunday for all the help their church gave them in the tumultuous days and months following the Thanksgiving Eve chemical plant explosion. Countless friends offered them food, clothing, money and more.

"You have no food, no clothes, no place to live, no vehicle," Donna recalled of the immediate aftermath.

Dick O'Neill, a fellow parishioner at Cavalry Episcopal Church, took Donna Joyce's hope chest and repaired the exterior blast damage, then refinished it.

"That touched my heart," she said.

"It's been quite a trip, I tell you," Donna said. "It's weird the anniversary falls on Thanksgiving this year."

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

Local News
  • North Shore couple’s divorce tests state’s new alimony law MARBLEHEAD -- In one of the first legal challenges of the state's 2011 alimony reform law, the Supreme Judicial Court has concluded that a Marblehead woman is entitled to no more than five years of "rehabilitative" alimony from her investment analyst

    August 2, 2014

  • Market Basket board: Get back to work or don't get paid Market Basket's co-chief executives have warned dozens of corporate employees who have not been to work in two weeks that they will not be paid for August unless and until they get back on the job, the latest escalation against revolting employees as

    August 2, 2014

  • WATERWORKS_3 Salem State students' sculptures adorn water at Cat Cove

    SALEM -- That is not an invasive species out in Cat Cove, or some funky new style of paddleboard. The colorful items floating in the water next to Winter Island are sculptures from a weeklong class at Salem State. "The course is called Art 340; it's

    August 2, 2014 5 Photos

  • North Shore Community Calendar Saturday, Aug. 2 Salem: Church Yard Sale, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Church, 124 Bridge St. Church-sponsored yard sale features household goods, children's items, furniture, Ukrainian folk items and more. All proceeds go toward

    August 2, 2014

  • Couture North Shore riders take on Pan-Mass Challenge

    About 150 riders from the North Shore are joining more than 5,000 others this weekend in the 35th Pan-Mass Challenge, a bicycle ride to raise money for cancer care and research. Some will pedal more than 190 miles in two days, while others will tackl

    August 2, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story