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Randy and DeAnne Fox work in Hartselle: DeAnne owns an antique store and Randy sells New York style hot dogs. Before opening a store here, Randy worked for a hazardous materials response company and was a member of the Orange County hazmat team when terrorists destroyed what he called the symbols of New York.  Randy has a collection of memorabilia from the site, including the turnouts he wore as he helped remove hazardous chemicals below the surface. There’s a framed letter from President Bush congratulating his unit for its work at the site. “I don’t ever want to forget how much people sacrificed and how much the country lost that day,” he said.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Randy and DeAnne Fox work in Hartselle: DeAnne owns an antique store and Randy sells New York style hot dogs. Before opening a store here, Randy worked for a hazardous materials response company and was a member of the Orange County hazmat team when terrorists destroyed what he called the symbols of New York. Randy has a collection of memorabilia from the site, including the turnouts he wore as he helped remove hazardous chemicals below the surface. There’s a framed letter from President Bush congratulating his unit for its work at the site. “I don’t ever want to forget how much people sacrificed and how much the country lost that day,” he said.

From New York
to Hartselle

Man who worked Sept. 11 site opens hot-dog restaurant on Main Street

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — For 12 weeks, Randy Fox walked past grieving families looking for answers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

He saw adult men cry as he had never seen them cry before, and he saw New Yorkers come together as one. There were no Yankee or Met fans, no Islanders or Rangers and no Jets or Giants.

They were not Republicans or Democrats, it seemed, and there were no lines between Manhattan and the Bronx and Harlem, Fox said.

They were New Yorkers, one family united by two airplanes that forever changed the landscape of the city he knew.

Fox, a New Yorker by birth, worked for a hazardous materials response company and was a member of the Orange County Haz-Mat team when terrorists destroyed what he called the symbols of New York.

He had family members die at the site, and, he knew several members of the New York Haz-Mat team that died responding to the scene.

The horrors of what happened that day haunted Fox, and in 2004, he moved to Hartselle, a place he had lived more than 10 years before the terrorist attack.

He has a collection of memorabilia from the site, including the turnouts he wore as he helped remove hazardous chemicals below the surface. There’s a framed letter from President Bush congratulating his unit for its work at the site.

“I don’t ever want to forget how much people sacrificed and how much the country lost that day,” he explained.

He also brought with him the aroma of what he calls authentic “New York City Dirty Water Hot Dawgs.”

In the back of his wife’s antique business at Sparkman and Main streets, Fox has a hot-dog business called Waay Off Broadway.

He named the menu items after streets or places in New York. For $1.75, for example, you can get the “42nd Street Dawg” or the “Broadway Dawg” with everything but the New York subway for $3.50.

Fox said his plans to open a New York-style pizzeria with a partner didn’t materialize. After his wife, Deanne, left her job as a civilian employee at Redstone Arsenal, she opened Fox and Robbins Variety.

A few months later, Fox decided to bring the smell of New York hot dogs and what he calls “real” New York pretzels to Hartselle.

The hot dogs he sells are shipped from New York through a vendor in Decatur, he said.

He hasn’t been covered up with business. “But, I’ve managed to cover the food cost,” Fox said.

The most expensive item on the menu is an Italian sausage for $3.75.

If you don’t know about Sept. 11, 2001, you’ll know after visiting his hot-dog business. In addition to the gear he used, Fox has posters, statues and just about every Time magazine with the event on its cover.

He has commendation medals and one of the original red passes workers used to access the site. But, most importantly, he has the memories of being there when workers and emergency technicians removed debris, bodies and body parts.

At the time of the attack, Fox worked for a company that had a contract to monitor pumps in the Verizon building, about 20 feet from the twin towers.

He was in a company vehicle on the Long Island Expressway and had just glanced at the New York skyline when the first plane hit.

After he exited the expressway to purchase a crowbar in a local business, he saw the tower burning on television.

“I remember asking the store clerk, ‘What movie is this?’ Five seconds later, my pager went off. I tried to call company headquarters and couldn’t. We had no signal. I had just passed the towers when the first one got hit.”

The first confirmation of what had really happened came from a friend in Decatur.

“She called and was crying,” Fox recalled. “I told her I was OK.”

Fox finally got orders from his superiors to take his truck to the trade center site.

“It took me 24 hours to travel 15 miles,” he said.

The reality of the devastation finally hit when Fox got to the site and saw a pile of debris the size of several football fields about eight stories high.

Fox said his responsibility was helping a crew remove about 100,000 gallons of unknown chemicals that were about six stories underground in the Verizon building.

At the time, he said, he didn’t think about the danger.

“One spark and we probably would have all been gone,” Fox said.

He said the experience was like a dream when he worked and slept at the site for 12 weeks.

“About two months after it was over, the nightmares started,” Fox said.

He continued to work for the hazardous response company, responding mostly to anthrax calls and chemical spills on roadways.

Realizing the New York he knew had forever changed on Sept. 11, Fox decided to return to Alabama.

“I told my mother I had had enough and convinced her to sell her home,” he said. “The house sold and she now lives in Hartselle.”

Fox, 37, works for Environmental Monitoring Services, a Texas-based company that checks pipe connectors for BP Amoco, Nova Chemicals and 3M.

As for the hot-dog business, he has no immediate plans to expand.

“I’m going to see how Hartselle responds to it,” he said.

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