Once again, it has been announced that Navistar on Brookville Road will be closing its doors. The last time this occurred, the plant got a brief reprieve thanks to some initiatives by the President, but it does not look like anything of that nature will occur this time around. The doors will close and 180 people will be out of work.
It’s yet another blow to the Eastside and God only knows what will happen to the building which will sit empty until someone figures out what to do with it. No offense, but here’s hoping that it won’t turn into a giant storage facility that can be ran by one or two people and will hum to life as a bustling plant with plenty of jobs to go around.
For me, like a lot of Eastsiders, the closing of the Navistar plant is personal. We have direct ties to the men and women who worked at the facility or perhaps we worked their ourselves and it’s always sad to see a part of the “Family” go away. I remember passing by the facility when I was very young (back when it was still called International Harvester) and my mother telling me that my grandfather worked there. Years later, she would tell me the story of how he got his job at the facility: by packing two egg sandwiches each day and setting out in his car from Finley to sit outside the personnel office until a position opened. Each day he was told to go home, but he returned so often that finally the HR guy said “well, as long as you are going to sit here, we might as well put you on the payroll.” I didn’t know my grandfather well, (he died when I was 3) and I don’t know how “true” that story is, but I like the message behind it and somehow it gave me a warm feeling about Navistar and the people who worked there.
But now it’s over and like everyone else, I’m sad about it. To me, it’s not just the end of an era, but symbolic of the end of what has always made this country great. Good companies that provided good jobs for good people willing to work hard to make an honest day’s pay. Here’s hoping that something fills that space soon!