No ten-year-old boy in the late 1950s collected more comics than Ronny Chimp. The truth is that when he bought a comic book with his allowance money, Ronny had little interest in comic book stories. He just wanted to find the advertising section that featured lots of ads selling jokes, 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” who “is a lovable pet and companion. Almost human with warm eyes, your family will love it. These young monkeys will grow to about 12 inches tall. They eat the same foods you do, they even like lollipops : Easy Care & Train Guaranteed Live Delivery Only $18.95 Mailed Check or Money Order a: Farm. Department K26, Box 1042, Miami Beach 39, Florida”.
Ronny ran in to tell her mother and showed her the ad.
“Oh, don’t fall for any more corny jokes,” her mother warned.
“But mom, this can’t be a joke. This could be a pet!”
Ronny looked sad, then she put her head down and slowly walked back to her room and closed the door. Several minutes later, he knocked softly and quietly opened the door. Ronny was pouting 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 and ran around her room. “Wait. Ronny! Don’t be so happy now. Your father might say ‘No.'”
When his father arrived home several hours later, Ronny ran over to him and showed him the ad. “Can I have a monkey please?” His father studied the ad while 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 dad… please?”
“I’ll have to think about this. If you still want this jumpsuit in 10 days, I’ll consider buying it from you. But, think carefully before that.”
Certain that she would still love him in 10 days, Ronny ran through the house, then to her bedroom where she finally calmed down and fell asleep. The next day at school, he told his friends that he was going to buy 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 that Ronny bought in comic book ads and bet that he would get the monkey.
Still, Ronny counted down the days until his father agreed to write a check for $18.95.
“Are you sure this is what you want, son?”
“You can bet!”
“Well, drop me the ad and I’ll mail you a check. But I want you to promise me you’ll handle it yourself!”
“I will, Dad! I will.”
Ronny’s father mailed the order. A week passed, then two weeks. Ronny became worried after six months had passed. The years came and went and there was still no monkey. Ronny simply forgot what he might have possessed. Meanwhile, life moved on for Ronny. He went to high school, graduated from college, got married and had children. “Ronny” became “Ronald”. His family lived in a retirement home, while he and his family lived in the same house he grew up in.
One Saturday in 1982, Ronny was playing catch 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.”
“That’s me, but no one has called me ‘Ronny’ in years. People call me ‘Ronald.'” The driver told him that he had a special delivery from NASA.
POT? Why NASA?
The driver looked into the back of his seat and a little sound like “Eeeekk!…Eeeek!” came from the box.
He examined the box and saw quite large perforations.
“It’s some kind of animal. Did you order an animal?”
He listened to the sounds coming from the box. When Ronald hurriedly opened the box, he quickly opened it. Underneath was a cage with a small squirrel monkey inside.
Ronald’s mouth dropped open and a shocked look appeared in his eyes – “a squirrel monkey???” Suddenly, his mind flashed back to his childhood when he saw the advertisement for a squirrel monkey.
“I sent this monkey back in the 1950s when I was 10 years old!!…What the hell?!” The animal began to jump up and down and chirp louder. So his family came out to see what the noise was about. Ronald looked at the cage and saw an envelope taped to the outside of the cage. He tore it out and began to read a letter:
From the National Space Aerodynamics Administration
To whom it may concern,
If you’ve received this squirrel monkey that we at NASA affectionately call “Miss Baker,” it’s because you may have purchased one of these monkeys in the past. We’re sorry you didn’t receive your animal, but now we give you Miss Baker, who was purchased along with 25 other squirrel monkeys from a pet store in Miami, Florida, and taken 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 felt her in space for 16 minutes and successfully returned in perfect health. No physical or mental abnormalities were found in her. Not only is he a historical monkey, but he has developed great knowledge and skills. I have included photos of her while she was with us at NASA.
We will miss her and hope you will take good care of her!
To be honest,
JL Flights, Director of Astrophysics at NASA
The body of the animal was mostly brown. On her pink face were two black eyes, a small nose, and a dark mouth. It was about a foot tall, weighing about a pound and a half. Ronald smiled at “Miss Baker”, but he and his whole family looked a little stunned. Ronald’s little daughter, Tina, was afraid to take her out of it, but Ms. Baker immediately jumped out of the cage, lunged at Tina, and hugged her. Then, she quickly jumped to the ground, singing at the same time. It was clear that Tina was the favorite member of the monkey family, possibly because she could relate to Tina because she was little. After 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 received it. Somehow, it seemed like a miracle that the precious animal his father had paid for so long ago had finally made it to his home. Seeing the little monkey playing with her daughter, making her so happy made her long wait worthwhile.