Written by Corey Twibell Friday, 05 November 2010 00:00
Through the efforts of several local individuals, community groups and Nassau County officials, the fully restored Hicksville eagle had its day in the sun on Oct. 28 as the Hicksville Historical Society held a dedication ceremony for the rare bird.
“Samuel A Goldberg, who with his Latin class, dedicated the eagle on May 15, 1965. On May 15, 1990 they had a 25th anniversary ceremony and it’s nice to be here today to celebrate the restoration of the Hicksville eagle,” said David Morrison, who hosted the festivities.
Robert Koenig, president of the Hicksville Historical Society, thanked the Northwest Civic Association for their part in the renovation process and offered a brief history of Hicksville for those unfamiliar with the area.
“Valentine Hicks, son of a Quaker preacher, Elias Hicks, bought land in this area and he later became president of the Long Island Rail Road and that is why the eagle, which we are re-dedicating this day, is so significant to be here in Hicksville,” said Koenig.
Koenig added that the area transformed from a farming community to a busy suburban neighborhood, like many regions throughout the United States, and that the eagle perched at the Hicksville train station is fitting considering its American icon status.
Koenig also commended sculptor Steve Tatti and his team for their work and mentioned town historian Richard Evers, who passed away earlier this year.
Emcee David Morrison then offered some background information of the original Penn Station eagles and their current locations throughout the U.S.
“On Oct. 28, 1963 the demolition of the Pennsylvania Railroad commenced. We’re here to celebrate the fact that we do have an eagle from the old Penn Station – it’s sort of like a phoenix that rose from the ashes,” said Morrison.
“When I think about where these eagles ended up, I think how we’re fortunate that we have an eagle in Hicksville, and that’s through the efforts of Samuel A. Goldberg that we have that eagle here,” Morrison added.
Now scattered up and down the east coast, the eagles can be found at the Market Street station in Philadelphia, Valley Forge Military Academy, the 7th Avenue entrance of Penn Station, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Hampton Sydney College, Maine and of course, Hicksville.
Interestingly, the eagle that was given to Maine was presented as a monument to the granite industry, but it turns out the eagles are composed not of granite but of marble.
Morrison explained that years of weathering severely damaged the eagle’s beak and the Hicksville Historical Society held a fundraising campaign, the Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society pledged a contribution and Nassau County, through the hotel/motel tax, contributed funds to help expedite the process. Jeffrey Kimmel, a local attorney who commutes out of Hicksville, donated money to help complete the renovations.
County Executive Edward Mangano, Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia and Legislator Rose Marie Walker were also on hand to say a few words on behalf of the county and the Town of Oyster Bay.
“I am proud of the part that Nassau County played in saving our Hicksville eagle from extinction,” said Mangano. “This eagle is truly a part of New York and Hicksville history. Because of the combined efforts of everyone involved, we were able to preserve this wonderful piece of artwork so that it can be enjoyed by generations to come. I am especially pleased that we also honor Samuel Goldberg, who brought the eagle to Hicksville, ensuring that it became a beloved member of the community.”
Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild and Stephen A. Goldberg, children of Samuel A. Goldberg, were proud to accept citations on behalf of their father and say a few words in his memory.
“Our father was a dedicated and inspired teacher. He had a wonderful sense of humor,” said Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild, who noted that her father once motivated students with a promise of a “diamond clip” at the culmination of a successful school year. When the time came, Goldberg, true to his word, presented those students with a dime and a clip.
“Our father was no superman, but he encouraged many of his students to strive and soar like an eagle. Let this eagle be a symbol not only of our father but of all those unsung public school teachers who encouraged their students and helped them be all they can be,” she added.
“Dad may have passed on but his spirit is with us just the same, it’s fitting and we’re extremely grateful that the eagle now bears his name,” said Stephen Goldberg.