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This Week in History: Aged rail worker got job back

120 years ago, 1900

Taken directly from the Vindicator:

“Sorrow was turned to joy by a local railway superintendent. An old man discharged on account of infirmity was put back to work and didn’t miss the pay car.

“A very short time ago one of the oldest men in the employ of the company of which this superintendent is at the head of the local division, was notified that his services would no longer be required. The old man pleaded to remain but his pleadings were in vain. Under the weight of many years of hard work in the service of the company he tottered home and told his aged wife the bad news. There was much sorrow in the modest home when the old gentleman unfolded the story of his summary discharge.

“The discharged employee with a record in the service of the road characterized with honesty, figured that he had surely been given unfair treatment, believed he had always worked hard, and he determined to tell his tale of woe and sorrow to the superintendent. This he did, and he was given an attentive ear. As the old man proceeded with his story a frown set itself upon the forehead of the superintendent. When the plea for reinstatement from the heartbroken old gentleman was through, the superintendent told him to go home, but to cheer up at once, as better days were coming, and that there was a strong probability of him having a happy New Year after all. The old man’s heart, which had been filled with sorrow and as heavy as lead, was now turned to joy, and he hurried home to tell his wife of the good news.

“The superintendent straightaway hunted down the subordinate official who had discharged the old man. The superintendent, without mincing words, …asked the subordinate official why he had discharged the old man and was told that he was too old; that he had outlived his usefulness, and was an expense to the company. The superintendent replied:

“‘Don’t you know that this man has spent his best years in the service of this company. He has grown gray in its service and is weighed with the weight of many years of faithful work. Why, he helped build the road. He put down the rails and ties and has been jealous of the company’s interests, and now you want to discharge him? Great God, man, is this the way you are going to treat him after all of that? Is that the way you would like to be treated? I know — well I wouldn’t want such a raw deal. You send for the old man and see that he is put back to work. Also see that he does not miss the pay car when it comes around. He has not missed the pay car since it started and I don’t intend that he shall while I’m superintendent of this division.'”

75 years ago, 1945

Edward A. Mooney, the Archbishop of Detroit, returned to Youngstown to visit with relatives and friends before traveling to Rome. The visit came just a week after Mooney had been elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Pius XII. He spent the night at retired Reverend Monsignor Joseph N. Trainor’s farm near Meander Lake.

When approached for an interview the following day, Mooney stated, “What can I say? I do want to give my best wishes to the people of Youngstown, and to thank them for the friendship they have shown me. I always knew I could count on the people here — and that really is something.” With a shy smile, he refused to comment further, except to say that he was deeply moved by the honor and sobered by the responsibility of being elevated to Cardinal.

He smoked a cigar while talking to reporters but only spoke about his old friends in Youngstown. He planned a trip to the Ursuline Convent to see some of the nuns who had helped him throughout his journey to the priesthood. Following that, his attention would shift to the trip to Rome and Vatican City. He noted that he had never traveled that far before and that the trip would mark the first time he would fly in an airplane.

30 years ago, 1990

Dwayne E. Hofus was honored by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission in Pittsburgh for a heroic action that saved the lives of two young girls, Jessica and Heather, ages 2 and 3, respectively. Hofus, 24 at the time, was looking out the kitchen window of his Youngstown home one morning and noticed flames on the first floor of his neighbor’s home. He rushed over, forced open the front door, and made his way to the second floor. He found one of the girls, picked her up, and ran back outside, unaware that there was another young girl still there. He went back to his home to call the fire department and returned to the scene.

It was then that he learned of the other young girl. The house was filled with smoke, flames and heat, but Hofus went back upstairs where he found the little girl crying in her room. He fell on his way down the stairs but was able to get himself and the girl out of the house safely. All three were taken to the hospital for treatment and each recovered fully. The Carnegie Medal was created in 1904 by Andrew Carnegie to recognize those willing to risk their lives to save another.

• Compiled from The Vindicator archives by Traci Manning, MVHS curator of education.

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