The LIRR's Best Friend
LIRR 2010 School Safety Contest winners, Mrs. Barbara Keefe's first grade class at the Trinity Regional School in East Northport, celebrate at Penn Station with LIRR President Helena Williams and Lemon, our Roxey lookalike along with his handler, Mike, from Little Shelter in Huntington.
A dog is not only man's best friend but also the Long Island Rail Road's. That is definitely the case when it comes to Roxey, the LIRR's mascot and good will ambassador. Roxey was known and celebrated by railroad employees and customers alike during the early part of the 20th century. The medium sized canine was even recognized by President Teddy Roosevelt, himself a frequent LIRR traveler when he visited his Sagamore Hill home.
A special ceremony was held recently at Penn Station to recognize Roxey's memorable life and a new children's book Miles of Smile, the Story of Roxey the Long Island Rail Road Dog by Long Island author Heather Worthington and illustrator Bill Farnsworth, published by Blue Marlin Publications in Bay Shore. The book retells the heartwarming story of Roxey. LIRR President Helena Williams said, "The humanity and dedication shown to Roxey are traits that continue to shine brightly today among our employees and customers. We hope Roxey's story will inspire excitement about train travel among a whole new generation of LIRR customers."
The Penn Station event was also held to recognize the winners of the railroad's annual school safety contest. The contest's focus this year was to remind travelers to "Step Over The Gap" when entering and exiting trains. The winners, Mrs. Barbara Keefe's first grade class from the Trinity Regional School in East Northport, received round-trip train travel to Penn Station where author Heather Worthington read to them from Miles of Smiles. Each child also received an author-autographed copy of the book. The train travel and books for the class were provided courtesy of Blue Marlin Publications.
LIRR President Helena Williams greets first grade students, Lemon and author Heather Worthington at the Penn Station Roxey Event.
Roxey (also referred to as Roxie or Roxy in some publications) would not have been allowed entry into the "blue-blooded" Westminster Dog Show. After all, he was just a mixed breed. He, however, showed off the best traits of his ancestors, possibly a Terrier and Pit Bull. He was mild mannered enough to be friends to commuters and best buds to LIRR employees throughout the railroad. One of his favorite haunts was Penn Station soon after the East River Tunnels and the old Penn Station were completed in 1910. At Penn, Roxey could count on a warm greeting from railroad employees and a steak dinner.
Roxey, with his special travel pass attached to his collar issued by LIRR President Ralph Peters, visited all stations along the Main Line, Hempstead and Oyster Bay Branches looking for his special lady with a parasol. The story goes that the fashionably-dressed young woman carried a very young Roxey as she disembarked from an LIRR ferryboat in Long Island City in 1901. As she boarded a train she handed the pup to a railroad employee to hold until they arrived in Roslyn.
A mix-up enroute and Roxey lost his young lady, becoming the LIRR's ward. For 12 years Roxey lived the good life in, on and around the Long Island Rail Road. He was held in such high esteem by employees that they considered it good luck to play host to Roxey when he visited.
Following his memorable run on the LIRR, in 1914 Roxey passed away peacefully at the Merrick Station where he is remembered on a special headstone, donated by a group of female commuters in 1915, now located south of the station building near Sunrise Highway.
Below: Miles of Smiles, the Story of Roxey, the Long Island Rail Road Dog author, Heather Worthington, greets Lemon, the LIRR's Roxey lookalike dog during Penn Station event.