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The Pet Monkey Advertisement
No 10-year-old boy collected more comics in the late 1950s than Ronny Chimp. The truth is, when he bought the comic with his grant money, Ronny wasn’t interested in comic stories. He just wanted to find the classifieds section, which had many ads selling jokes, pranks, and magic tricks. Ronny owned almost everything and played pranks on his friends at school. But in the latest issue, Ronny’s interest was piqued when he found a new ad for a little pet monkey:
“Darling Squirrel Monkey” which “makes an adorable pet and companion. Almost human with warm eyes, your family will love it. These young monkeys grow about 12 inches tall. Eats the same food as you, even likes lollipops: easy to care for and train. Real Time delivery guaranteed Only $18.95 Postal check or money order to recipient: Animal farm. Dept. K26, Box 1042, Miami Beach 39, Florida.”
Ronny ran to tell his mother and showed her the ad.
“Oh, don’t settle for another cheese grater,” Mom warned.
“But mom, it can’t be a gag. This could be a pet!”
Ronny looked sad, then hung his head and slowly walked back to his room and slammed the door shut. Several minutes later, he knocked gently and quietly opened her door. Ronny nodded on 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 around his room. “Wait. Ronny! Now don’t be so happy. Your father could say ‘no’.”
When his father arrived home several hours later, Ronny ran up to him and showed him the ad. “Could I have a monkey, please?” His father studied the report as Ronny anxiously awaited the verdict.
“What the hell 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 this. If you still want this monkey in 10 days, I’ll consider buying it for you. But think carefully before then.”
Ronny was sure he still wanted it after 10 days and ran around the house and then to his room where he finally dozed off and fell asleep. The next day at school, he told his friends that he was getting a monkey. They all laughed at him because they had seen the same ad but thought it was a scam. Others remembered all the practical jokes Ronny bought from cartoon commercials and bet he would get a little monkey.
Anyway, Ronny counted down the days until his father agreed to fill the $18.95 check.
“Are you sure this is what you want, son?”
“Well, give me that notice and I’ll mail a check for it. But I want you to promise to take care of it yourself!”
“I will, father! I will.”
Ronny’s father sent the order by mail. A week passed, then two weeks. Ronny worried after six months. Years came and went and still no monkey. Ronny simply forgot what he could have owned. Meanwhile, Ronny’s life went on. He went to high school, graduated from college, got married and had children. “Ronny” became “Ronald”. His relatives lived in a nursing home while he and his family lived in the same house where he grew up.
On a Saturday in 1982, Ronny was playing with his 12-year-old son, Tyler, when a UPS truck pulled up in front of his old house. The UPS driver walked up to Ronny and said, “I have a delivery for Ronny Chimp.”
“It’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 behind his seat and heard a small voice like “Eeeek!..Eeeek!” came out of the box.
He examined the box and saw some rather large holes.
“It’s some kind of animal. Did you order an animal?”
He heard noises from the box. When Ronald rushed to open the box, he quickly tore it open. Underneath it was a cage with a little squirrel monkey inside.
Ronald’s mouth opened wide and a startled look appeared in his eyes – “squirrel monkey???” His mind suddenly returned to his childhood when he saw an advertisement for a squirrel monkey.
“I sent this to a monkey in the 1950s when I was 10!!… What the hell?!” The animal started jumping up and down and chirping louder. Then his family came out to see what the fuss was about. Ronald looked at the cage and saw an envelope outside the cage. He tore it open and began to read the letter:
From the National Space Aerodynamic Administration
To interested parties,
If you’ve received this squirrel monkey, which we at NASA affectionately call “Miss Baker,” it’s because you may have purchased this type of monkey in the past. We’re sorry you didn’t get your animal, but now we give you Miss Baker, who 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. He is getting old and needs a new home. He started working for us in 1959 and became our first monkey in space. We sent him into space for 16 minutes and successfully returned in perfect health. No physical or mental abnormalities were found in him. Not only is he a historical monkey, but he has developed keen knowledge and abilities. I have included pictures of him when he was with us at NASA.
We will miss him and hope you take good care of him!
JL Flights, NASA Director of Astrophysics
The animal’s body was mostly brown. Its pink face had two black eyes, a small nose and a dark mouth. He was about one foot tall and weighed about one and a half pounds. Ronald smiled at ‘Miss Baker’ but she and her entire family seemed a bit taken aback. Ronald’s little daughter, Tina was afraid to take her out, but Miss Baker immediately jumped up from the cage on Tina and hugged her. Then he quickly jumped to the ground chirping at the same time. It was clear that Tina was the monkey’s favorite family member, possibly because he could relate to Tina since she was small. After just a few weeks, the family considered Miss Baker part of the family.
Ronald reflected on his childhood when he wanted a pet squirrel monkey but never got one. It seemed somehow miraculous that the precious animal that his father had paid for so long ago had finally made it to his home. Seeing the little monkey playing with his daughter, making him so happy made the long wait worth it.
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