TEMPLE — The shiny silver train sitting on the tracks made the eyes of 7-month old Nakoa Ramirez widened as a smile spread across his face and he pointed at the locomotive. Not only was he viewing some of Central Texas’ history but also his family ties.
This was the first visit for the reigning Baby Mister Five Hills and the Ramirez family to the Temple Heritage and Railroad Museum that hosted the Copperas Cove Five Hills royalty for a special visit as one of the pageant’s annual sponsors.
“Nakoa enjoyed the big train set the most,” Brooklyn Ramirez, Nakoa’s mother said. “Nakoa’s great uncle works for the railroad as a thermite welder who travels the southeastern railroads providing maintnance to them.”
It was also a first time visit for Preteen Miss Five Hills Romella Spitzer and her family.
“It was nice that we were still able to attend even with COVID-19,” the 9-year old said. “We followed the arrows that the museum put in place to guide us on our tour. We saw a picture of a sewing machine that my mom has in our house.That was the best part because it made me feel like we have history in our home too.
“We also were able to get on a caboose outside the museum that we were able to get on,” Spitzer said.“That was the best … seeing one up close and everything.”
The experience for Young Miss Five Hills Elise Fuselier is one she will not soon forget.
“As a young black female, being able to see the ‘colored-only’ waiting room and part of the pullman porter exhibit was very touching because I got to see what it looked like when black and white people couldn’t sit together,” the 14-year old said.”My great great grandfather worked on the railroads in North Carolina in the 1940s repairing the tracks.”
Tiny Mister Five Hills Dominic Pollastro and his family visited the museum last hear during its Harry Potter event.
“We had not been upstairs to tour the museum before,” Dominic’s mother, Caitlin Pollastro, said. “We loved the section of the museum that shared the history of the railroad and the U.S. Army since Dominic’s dad is in the military.”
Ms. Five Hills Sandie Johnson and her children also visited the museum for the first time and are now ready to board a train to take a family trip.
“My children enjoyed learning about the job the engineers had which was very important and also relatable seeing as my husband is an engineer in the United States Army,” Johnson said.
Little Mister Five Hills Jordan Hendrix, Jr.’s favorite part was seeing all the different trains and boarding“the big train.” Miniature Miss Five Hills Joslynn Coombs enjoyed learning about “train doctors” while Junior Miss Five Hills Kadence Coombs enjoyed learning about train travel.
This was the second visit to the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum for Five Hills Junior Ambassador Hayley Sawyer.
“I learn more each time I go. I especially loved learning this time that the violin had a part to play in the history of the railroad. This was special to me because I play my violin every day and it’s amazing to think that music has such an important impact on our lives,” Sawyer said. “I think everyone should come out and learn just how much the railroad has influenced the lives we live today. It’s a wonderful place to take a glimpse back in time.”