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Old 05-30-07, 01:26 PM   #1
ravenmore
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A great story my folks just sent me

Hey all,

Thought this was cool to pass on even for folks outside my “kin”, lol. Kinda like a window to another era.

A bit of history. I was just forwarded this from my folks. Some of you guys may remember I went to a funeral for my Aunt about a year or so ago. She’s the one who wrote this. My grandfather, grandmother, mom, and aunt lived in a little town called Sinton not too far from Corpus Christi, TX. My grandfather helped found and build a zoo in the municipal park just outside of the town. They lived in the park for quite a few years and took care of it and the zoo (in addition to my grandfather being a farmer).

I visited the park much later as a kid myself. Looking through the "goggles of my childhood" it was a really neat place. The zoo was still there. They even had a few big cats. My grandfather built a lot of the exhibits with his own two hands...

Anyway, here's the letter my mom sent me that was written by her sister Peg.:

___________________________________________________________________________


Thank you for asking about my memories of living in the old Park Welder. I spent many happy years there - it was like having your very own playground.

We moved there when I was 3 years old and moved back into town on July 1, 1944. I enjoyed every one of those 11 years.

Of course the main attraction there was the zoo. My dad would pick up fruit and vegetables that the grocery stores saved for him to feed the animals. One of the things I remember about the animals was the deer loved to eat tobacco. My dad rolled his own cigarettes and carried the loose tobacco in a shirt pocket. When he went into the deer pens they would come up to him and nudge at his pocket until he gave them some cigarette tobacco.

We had a pet squirrel that we called “Old Grumpy”. He stayed mad at the world all the time but would allow us the honor of feeding him. We warned people not to try to pet him because he would bite them. One day my dad was cleaning the animal pens out when Old Grumpy suddenly ran up the inside of his pant legs. Needless to say my dad made a grab for him. I don’t remember just how he got Old Grumpy out of his pants-I just know that he bit my dad’s leg and had to be killed. His head was sent to Austin for tests. I guess that proves not bite the hand that feeds you.

The monkeys were a big draw and a lot of fun.

One time some boys came out to the park after the lights had been turned off. They were drinking whiskey. It seemed like a good idea to them to mix some whiskey with some Orange Crush and give it to a half-grown monkey. We didn’t know all of this until the next morning. The poor thing was still pretty drunk and hung over. He would hang on one side of the cage and try to jump clear across to the other. Of course, he never made it across but, bless his heart, I guess he was seeing double. Even tho’ it was sad to see him so out of touch, you couldn’t help but laugh at him. They really aren’t that different from human beings after all.

One time a baby monkey got out of the cage. My dad crawled up on top of it and got him down. Poor little thing was so scared that I guess he took my dad for his mother and hung on for dear life. We took him into town to Mr. P.L. Johnson’s drug store which had a soda fountain. Mr. Johnson got the baby a bowl of ice cream which he really loved. I think he was sorry when we took him back home to his mother.

Schools from all over the area would have their Easter Egg hunts at the park. For weeks after the hunts when my dad mowed the grass he would run over all colors of eggs even some were the golden ones.

Families would come for their family reunions and people just getting together to barbeque under the round rotunda that was east of the house we lived in. I even had some of my birthday parties there.

One of the most unusual gatherings was a picnic for about 300 deaf-mutes. A few of their children/husbands or wives could talk and hear but the majority couldn’t. It was so strange to see that many people having a really good time but not making very much noise.

The Boy Scouts every so often would have a jamboree for this area. They would pitch tents all from the rotunda to the main gate and throughout the park. One day their scout leader was going to show them how to swing across the creek while hanging from a grapevine. He almost made it across when the vine broke and fell into the creek much to the delight of all of us watching. I’m not sure he ever lived that down.

I was not above thinking that the park belonged to me. Some of my friends and I were building a sand city at the end of the big slide. If you patted the damp sand over your foot and slide it real careful- you had a house. We built roads and had our little cars. Some out-of-town kids came out to the park and wanted to use the slide. I told them that my daddy owned the park and they couldn’t use the slide. Of course, they argued. I said that I was going to the house and tell my daddy and he would make them leave us alone. Of course, I knew better than to do any such thing but I went storming across the street, into the house-----got a glass of water and went back to the slide. I told them my daddy said for them to go play somewhere else because he owned the park. If he had known what I did I don’t have to guess what would have happended to me.

I’m not sure that I have any pictures of just the park tho’ I do have some that have different friends and family if your are interested in them.


-Peg
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Old 05-30-07, 01:38 PM   #2
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side note - I did feel bad for the squirrel, although the mental image of my grandfather dancing a jig with a squirrel in his pants does make me laugh a little.
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Old 05-30-07, 02:03 PM   #3
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side note - I did feel bad for the squirrel, although the mental image of my grandfather dancing a jig with a squirrel in his pants does make me laugh a little.
It's weird that they have to destroy the animals to test for rabies. Recently at the Minnesota Zoo a 9 year old girl climbed up and reached into the meerkat enclosure and was bitten. Her parents didn't want her to have to get rabies shots, so they had to kill the all of the meerkats and test them.
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Old 05-30-07, 02:05 PM   #4
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It's weird that they have to destroy the animals to test for rabies. Recently at the Minnesota Zoo a 9 year old girl climbed up and reached into the meerkat enclosure and was bitten. Her parents didn't want her to have to get rabies shots, so they had to kill the all of the meerkats and test them.
Dang - that seems really excessive for zoo animals. Esp. due to human stupidity.
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Old 05-30-07, 02:22 PM   #5
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Dang - that seems really excessive for zoo animals. Esp. due to human stupidity.
Definitely.

BTW- Personal zoo? You last name isn't Hearst is it?
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Old 05-30-07, 02:25 PM   #6
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Oh - no, it wasn't a personal zoo. It was a public municipal zoo that my grandfather helped to put together. The whole area, if I remember right, was a municipal zoo, municipal golf course, and municipal park. From what I recall the city and public contributions paid for it all. A couple of local wealthy families paid for a lot of it.

edit: looking back on it, it was pretty cool considering the town had like 8,000 people in it.
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