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The Pet Monkey Advertisement
No ten-year-old boy in the late 1950s collected more comic books than Ronny Chimp. The truth is that when he bought a comic book using his own money, Ronny had little interest in comic book stories. He just wanted to find the classifieds section that featured many ads selling pranks, pranks, and magic tricks. Ronny owned almost all of them and played pranks on his friends at school. But in the last issue, Ronny’s interest was piqued when he found a new ad for a small pet monkey:
“Darling Squirrel Monkey” that “makes an adorable pet and companion. Almost human with warm eyes, your family will love it. These young monkeys will grow to about 12 inches tall. Eat the same foods as you, even like sweets: easy to care for and train Guaranteed direct delivery Only $18.95 Mail check or money order to: Animal Farm. Dept. K26, Box 1042, Miami Beach 39, Florida.”
Ronny ran to tell his mother and showed her the ad.
“Oh, don’t fall for any more lies,” his mother warned.
“But Mom, it can’t be a gag. That could be a pet!”
Ronny looked sad, then hung his head and slowly walked back to his room and slammed his door. A few minutes later, she knocked softly and quietly opened his door. Ronny was dying in his bed. She sat down next to him and said, “Okay. We’ll ask your dad when he gets home from work tonight.”
Ronny stood up straight and ran across his room. “Wait. Ronny! Don’t be so happy now. Your father might say ‘No’.”
When his father arrived home a few hours later, Ronny ran up to him and showed him the ad. “Can I have a monkey, please?” His father reviewed the ad as Ronny anxiously awaited the decision.
“What in the world would you do with a little monkey?… How about a dog or a cat?”
“I want a monkey! Please daddy… Please?”
“I’ll have to think about it. If you still love this monkey after 10 days, I’ll consider buying it for you. But please think about it carefully before then.”
Sure he’d still want it in 10 days, Ronny ran around the house, then to his room where he finally collapsed and fell asleep. The next day at school, he told his friends he was going to get a monkey. Everyone laughed at him because they had seen the same ad but thought it was a hoax. The others remembered all the practical jokes Ronny bought from the comic book commercials and bet he would get the little monkey.
Anyway, Ronny counted the days until his father agreed to write a check for $18.95.
“Are you sure this is what you want, son?”
“Well, let me take the ad and I’ll mail a check for it. But I want you to promise to take care of it yourself!”
“I will, Daddy! I will.”
Ron’s father mailed the order. A week passed, then two weeks. Ronny got worried after six months. Years came and went and still no monkey. Ronny just forgot what he could own. Meanwhile, life went on for Ronny. Went to high school, graduated college, got married and had kids. “Ronny” became “Ronald”. His folks lived in a retirement home, while he and his family lived in the same house where he grew up.
One Saturday in 1982, Ronny was playing with Tyler, his 12-year-old son, when a UPS truck pulled up in front of his old home. The UPS driver walked up to Ronny and said, “I have a delivery for Ronny Chimp.”
“That’s me, but no one has called me ‘Ronny’ in years. People call me ‘Ronald’.” The driver told him he had a special delivery from NASA.
NASA? Why NASA?
The driver looked at the back of his seat and a little sound like “Eeeekk!..Eeeek!” came from the box.
He examined the box and saw fairly large holes drilled.
“It’s some kind of animal. Did you order an animal?”
He heard the sounds coming from the box. As Ronald rushed to open the box, he quickly tore it open. Below was a cage with a small squirrel monkey inside.
Ronald’s mouth opened wide and a surprised look came into his eyes – “a squirrel monkey???” His mind suddenly returned to his childhood when he saw the advertisement for a squirrel monkey.
“I sent for this monkey in the 1950s when I was 10!!… What in the world?!” The animal began to jump up and down and chirp louder. His family then came out to see what the fuss was about. Ronald looked at the cage and saw an envelope stuck outside the cage. He tore it open and began to read a letter:
From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Who cares this May,
If you received this squirrel monkey that we at NASA affectionately call “Miss Baker,” it’s because you may have purchased one of these types of monkeys in the past. We’re sorry you didn’t get your pet, but now we’re giving you Miss Baker was purchased along with 25 other squirrel monkeys at a pet store in Miami, Florida and brought to the Naval Aviation Medical School in Pensacola. She is getting old and needs a new home. She started working for us in 1959 and became our first monkey in space. We sent him into space for 16 minutes and successfully returned to perfect health. No physical or mental abnormalities were found with him. Not only is she a historical monkey, she has developed keen knowledge and skills. I have included pictures of her while she was with us at NASA.
We will miss her and hope you take good care of her!
JL Flights, NASA Director of Astrophysics
The body of the animal was mostly brown. On his pink face were two black eyes, a small nose and a dark mouth. She stood about a foot tall, weighed about a pound and a half. Ronald smiled at “Miss Baker” but he and his entire family looked a little stunned. Ronald’s little daughter Tina was afraid to take her out, but Miss Baker immediately jumped out of the cage, onto Tina and hugged her. Then, she quickly jumped to the ground, chirping at the same time. It was clear that Tina was the favorite member of the monkey family, probably because she could relate to Tina because she was small. After only a few weeks, the family thought of Miss Baker as part of the family.
Ronald reflected on his childhood when he wanted a pet squirrel monkey and never got it. It seemed like a miracle somehow that the precious animal that his father paid for so long ago finally made it to his home. Seeing the little monkey playing with his daughter, making her so happy, was worth the long wait.
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