|ONLINE VERSION||SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2001|
|Member Profiles: Ulises Morales & William Startt|
Left, Les Morales, right, Bill Startt.
Quick Thinking by BMWE Members Saves Little Girlís Life
by Rich Minser
On May 18, 2001, after a routine day at the Amtrak maintenance of way repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, the commute home for repairmen Ulises Morales and Bill Startt was anything but routine. As they were merging onto the freeway, Ulises, or Les as he is called by all his friends, told Bill to pull over when he saw a woman by the side of the road violently shaking a small girl.
Thinking that they had stumbled onto a blatant case of child abuse, Les and Bill approached the woman. When they got close enough, they realized the woman was hysterical and the girl was not breathing.
Acting without hesitation, Les snatched the child from the womanís arms and performed the Heimlich maneuver while Bill stood by and comforted the little girlís family and kept bystanders away. Les performed the maneuver three times before a piece of peppermint candy shot out of the three-year-oldís mouth and she began crying.
When the two were assured the girl was going to be alright, they jumped into their vehicle and went home.
Their good deed did not go unnoticed. Some of their coworkers had also pulled over and witnessed the tragedy that was averted by quick thinking and the courage to get involved. Once the word was out, which as you know doesnít take long on the railroad, a luncheon was setup to honor the two members of BMWE Local Lodge 3095. Plaques were presented to Les and Bill by Chief Engineer John Parola.
Lesí coworkers and fellow BMWE members were impressed by his humbleness and sincerity when he said, "one of the best feelings Iíve ever had was when that little girl started crying and I knew she was breathing again."
Editorís Note: Les Morales, age 37, is Vice President of Lodge 3095 and has been a member since 1991. Bill Startt, age 60, has been a member since 1982.
Member Profile: Leonardo Capuano
A Unique Museum and the Man behind it
Reprinted from Canadian BMWE JOURNAL
Do young people know how the railway system was built across Canada? Well one man truly cares about this and to make sure that this important part of our history is not forgotten, he started collecting old hand tools that were being discarded by the railways and took it upon himself to display them in a little museum. This man is Brother Leonardo Capuano, a retired maintenance of way worker. His fascinating collection can be seen in a large shed across from his house in Cranbrook, B.C.
Brother Capuano started working at CP Rail in July 1951 at Emerald Section, near Field, B.C. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Fort Steel where he worked as the First Man. He was an active health and safety advocate and was responsible for many improvements to many of the hand tools he now collects. He worked on B.C. gangs and at various locations in the Kootenays. When he retired in September 1982, he was track maintenance foreman at Cranbrook, B.C.
The railway worker turned collector is a local celebrity and a hero to many of the local railroaders especially those from the maintenance department for his ongoing efforts to educate the public on the role of the maintenance of way employees in Canadian history.
The following letter to the editor, written by Brother Capuano, was first published in the Cranbrook newspaper:
Remember Those Who Built the Railroad
I have often read about the restoration of railway heritage artifacts by the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook. Sleeping cars, dining cars, railway stations and the Royal Alexandra Hall are being refurbished and displayed to the public.
I believe we should show more respect for the men who actually built the railway in this country, the men who dug tunnels through mountains, built bridges across rivers, worked in blazing sun and freezing cold. Many of these workers died while building the tracks and received little respect for the important work they did.
Why donít we restore the outfit cars where work gangs slept on bunks with straw mattresses, with no water or washroom facilities and little heat? What about the bunkhouses, where the section gang slept? They were heated by little stoves fired with wood, the gangs themselves had to cut and haul.
It seems we are recognizing the people who use the tracks more than the people who built the tracks. Yes, itís good to display restored rail cars. But the track and maintenance of the track are equally important. The two must go together.
Itís important for the younger generation to realize that a lot of hard work went into building a railway across this vast country. We should be proud of the accomplishments of the people who built it.
In recognition of these people, I have collected all the original hand tools that were used to build the railway and displayed them in a little museum on my property in Cranbrook. I donít charge a thing for interested people to view this collection, even though it cost a lot of my own money to set it up. I do it for the children of today and tomorrow.
I invite anyone who is interested to visit my museum at 501 Hurry Avenue in Cranbrook.