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Posts Tagged ‘Coney Island’

Here’s another story about an older worker from John. I think we’ll discover more of these, given that retirement today doesn’t have the same appeal for everyone.

“Frank Gurrera is old-school Brooklyn,” writes Pete Donohue at the NY Daily News.

“Gurrera, a World War II veteran, is nearly 90 years old. But he’s still working as a subway machinist at the MTA’s sprawling brick maintenance complex in Coney Island. Gurrera makes or modifies parts for workhorse trains that were built decades ago and need periodic roof-to-wheels overhauls in order to remain in service.

“ ‘I enjoy the work,’ he said. ‘It’s the satisfaction of making something from nothing, making something from just a piece of metal.’

“Gurrera is exactly the type of transit worker the Daily News celebrates with its annual Hometown Heroes in Transit awards, which honor bus and subway workers who demonstrate exceptional dedication, bravery, compassion, ingenuity and other admirable qualities.” More about the awards here.

Although this story is from New York, people like Gurrera are also valued in Greater Boston, which has the oldest subway system in the country. The Boston Globe has reported on local machinists who are needed to make train parts by hand.

Photo: Pearl Gabel/NY Daily News
Frank Gurrera, who turns 90 on Oct. 29, makes subway train parts that no longer are available from the original manufacturer. The parts are used for workhorse MTA trains that were built decades ago.

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I liked a Nov. 19 editorial in the NY Times: “Day Laborers, Helping Hands.” It shows that attitudes about immigration can be affected by circumstances.

“About 50 or so people gathered outside a storm-ruined taco restaurant on Saturday morning in Coney Island, on a backstreet behind the Boardwalk near the Wonder Wheel. They were day laborers, Hispanic men and women who have been spending weekends as a volunteer brigade, helping other people chip away at the mountains of debris and accepting nothing in return except work gloves, face masks and safety information cards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They came from all over the region, including a day labor hiring center in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, that Hurricane Sandy had washed away.

“It’s not unusual to find day laborers looking for work after a disaster. What was striking was the warmth and gratitude they found. They even had an official welcome, from the local state assemblyman, Alec Brook-Krasny, and two City Council members — Domenic Recchia Jr. of Coney Island and Vincent Gentile of Bensonhurst.

“They thanked everyone for coming and pledged to get the Bensonhurst work center open again. A man from the laborers’ union gave a safety lecture. …  ‘We are all New Yorkers,’ said Mr. Recchia, who had brought a box of masks. An observer used to the anti-Latino screeds of politicians on Long Island, a few miles east, marveled at the sense of community — the feeling that after a disaster, immigration status didn’t matter, only a willingness to help.”

Although I took this photo in downtown Boston, the union mural seemed fitting, suggesting the importance of keeping fairness in mind after the crisis has passed.

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