Bronx veterans are now raising funds to restore the once proud 40 & 8 Locomotive, which graced Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades around the Bronx and the state since the late 1940s.
The locomotive, which is actually a truck, was one of about 100 made by a Chicago manufacturer after World War II. According to 40 & 8 veterans group member, Vietnam veteran and Edgewater Park resident Joseph “J.P.” Penasso, many years of rising insurance costs and lack of indoor storage has taken a toll on the vehicle.
The large locomotive from another era that is dedicated to veterans has fallen on hard times. Matters were made worse when it was vandalized in the salvage yard where it was being stored a few years ago, and since then it has not been road worthy.
Penasso has formed a committee along with other concerned veterans to restore the locomotive. The first goal of the group, Penasso said, is to get the truck running again safely. The second is to have the train body repainted; the decals alone will cost several thousand dollars. Penasso’s third goal is to get it licensed, insured, and ready for future parades.
“We want to put it back on the road because the train is a piece of nostalgia,” Penasso said. “Since 9/11, we added the Twin Towers on the side of it so that no one can forget that either.”
Penasso has fond memories of riding on the locomotive as a child. He remembers his father lifting him up on it and all of the children getting a chance to ring a big bronze bell, which was stolen along with other parts of the train. He estimates that in it current condition, the locomotive will require about $50,000 to fully restore and insure.
He said that his principal reason for getting the locomotive restored was that he wants it to serve as a vehicle to draw attention to veteran causes. Committee member Tony Salimbene agrees.
“It draws people in and makes them want to be patriotic,” Salim-