Around the turn of the 20th century, fire stations in New York City were allowed to have one dog as a mascot, or one cat, but not both. Of course, they all had horses to pull the fire engines. Engine Company No. 31 and No. 1 Tower Company, at 87 Lafayette Street, broke the rules and sheltered all kinds of mascots, including a monkey named Mrs. Herman, who considered herself a firefighter just like the men she lived among.
Mrs. Herman was a native of Java, an island of Indonesia primarily comprising a tropical rain forest. I don’t know how or why she came to the United States, but I do know that she joined the fire department in 1904.
Mrs. Herman knew every firefighter by name, and she enjoyed wearing the regulation fire-fighting attire of her male counterparts (she did not like to wear dresses). She also liked to spend time with Pluto, the big gray horse of the No. 1 Tower Company, and with Pinky, the four-year-old spotted coach dog mascot owned by Lieutenant Sullivan of the tower company. Two of her favorite things to do were ride around the block on Pinky’s back and take naps on Pluto’s back.
Mrs. Herman didn’t get along very well with Boxer, the firehouse cat. In fact, she made his life pretty miserable. Poor thing.
Read about Mrs. Herman and the firefighters of Engine Company No. 31 at The Hatching Cat.