Archive for Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Shouts and Murmurs

Mayor Taylor’s monkey business

September 22, 2004

Tonganoxie mayor Dave Taylor has been known to come up with innovative ideas. But none can likely top an idea he cooked up when he was a child.

Recently, Taylor brought in a yellowed letter, dated Sept. 4, 1951, and written by the owner of Khan Wild Animal Farm in Calcutta, India.

The letter was addressed to: David Taylor, Esq., at Taylor's home in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan.

And it promised more than most children would ever dream of -- monkeys enough to give to every kid on his block -- and then some.

Here's what the owner of the animal farm had to say:

"We would advise you that our 'Open Season' for monkeys commencing from the first of September and lasting till the 31st of March each year, any number of monkeys during this period, say from 1,000 to 3,000 per month, can be supplied by us."

The letter went on to say that monkeys could be sold during "Closed Season" months as well, if it was documented that they would be used for medical research purposes.

The monkey letters actually had begun about two years earlier when Taylor was 12. A comic book enthusiast like many others of his generation, Taylor would avidly read every word of every comic book. He even zeroed in on the ads, which might offer anything from invisible eyeglasses to sea monkeys and even real monkeys.

Having time on his hands and monkeys on his mind, Taylor clipped the ad for monkeys and jotted a letter off to the animal farm in Calcutta, saying he'd like to buy a monkey.

Today Taylor says it's likely, because he signed his name using his first two initials: D.R. Taylor, and because he lived not far from Kansas University's medical center, the animal farm must have assumed he was a physician inquiring about laboratory monkeys.

It took a couple of years for the reply to make its way back to Kansas. Out of the blue, at least as far as Taylor's mother was concerned, a letter arrived from Calcutta, telling the Taylors they'd gladly ship thousands of monkeys to their address.

"I remember my mom was petrified," Taylor said. "She'd say ohhhhh when are they going to come. Every day she'd look for a big truck to come up with all these monkeys on it. Of course we kids were real excited that we were going to get 1,000 or so monkeys."

But fortunately for his mother, and to the dismay of Taylor and the kids on his block, the monkeys never arrived.

Now, more than half a century later and with a more mature perspective, Taylor no longer dreams of looking down the street and seeing a truckload of monkeys arriving at his door. But if that would happen, he'd be prepared. He chuckles his friendly laugh and says: "I hope they don't come, but if they do, I'll bring you one."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.