A Great Big City

April 26 in History: Bouncing Baby Boy Bombed

Baby Found Smiling
Baby Found Smiling via New York Tribune, 1921

The front page of the New York Tribune from April 26, 1921 featured one headline even more startling than the latest updates from Germany: "Baby, Blown 20 Feet by Bomb, Found Smiling"!

The Manhattan Gerig family was visiting their relatives out on Rockaway Point (now Breezy Point), and had put their seven-month-old baby in a crib on the front porch. At the nearby Rockaway Point Naval Air Station, there was testing of an "experimental bomb" underway, and the explosion over Jamaica Bay sent a strong concussion wave across the neighborhood. When the baby's uncle ran to the porch to check on the child, they found little Maxwell Gerig had been knocked out of the crib and landed some 20 feet away in a patch of tall grass! Finding no other explanation of how the child could have traveled so far, the family could only assume that the large blast had knocked the baby out into the yard.

However he ended up there, the baby appeared uninjured, and was in good spirits.

One can only assume that the Gerig family was happy to make it back to the safety of Manhattan that day!

It appears that baby Maxwell may have stayed in the city: The 1940 census from 20 years later shows a Maxwell Gehrig that was 20 years old at the time and living in Brooklyn, possibly with a newspaper clipping of his childhood mishap tucked away in a box of keepsakes.

Did you know?

The Rockaway Naval Air Station, in addition to testing bombs in Jamaica Bay, was also the departure point for the first transatlantic flight only two years earlier in 1919. The land is now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area.

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