SHARPSBURG (KDKA) — Sometimes when a kid turns 16, their parents might buy them a car, but a father in Sharpsburg decided to buy his son a train caboose for a very special reason in a very special act of love.
Ray and Mark Bronowicz, a father and son with a very special bond.
Mark was mentally challenged from birth, and Ray tried to do everything he possibly could for his son.
“Ray and Marky used to go down to the river near the 62nd Street Bridge and used to watch all the trains go by,” Walter Bronowicz, Ray’s brother and Mark’s uncle, said. “Marky really enjoyed that, and that was a big part of Ray taking care of his son.”
Knowing how much joy trains brought his son, Ray found a rundown caboose in a junkyard, and he bought it.
“Ray says, ‘Listen, Marky is going to have some challenges, but he’s going to have something that he really likes,'” Walter said. “‘That’s the best I can do for him.’ And that’s the way it was with Ray. He put Marky ahead of everything, even himself.”
Ray had the caboose moved to their backyard in O’Hara Township and set it up on real railroad ties and train tracks.
“He completely redid everything,” Shannon Swierczynski, Ray’s granddaughter and Mark’s niece, said. “Had it painted, restored. There was electric, air conditioning, everything. He put a bunch of Lionel trains, toy trains in there for him. My uncle’s bedroom, he could look right out from his window and always see the train. It was basically an operation of love for him.”
Over the years, father and son spent countless hours in the caboose.
“I think it was a big part of making Marky happy, and Ray,” Walter said.
Mark passed away several years ago. Ray joined him last month. Now the family has decided to sell the caboose to another father and son.
“I understand it’s going to be restored,” Walter said, “and I hope it lasts another hundred years.”
A crane was brought in to move the caboose to its new home in the state of Indiana, leaving the Bronowicz family with their memories of all the happy times they spent there and a father’s incredible love for his son.
“It was a place for Ray and Marky to spend time together. Dream, if you want to call it, but they enjoyed their time together,” Walter said.