No ten-year-old boy in the late 1950’s collected more comic books than Ronny Chimp. The truth is that when he bought a comic book using his allowance money Ronny had little interest in the comic book stories. He just wanted to find the advertisement section which displayed many ads selling gags, pranks and magic tricks. Ronny owned nearly all of them and played jokes on his friends at school. But in the latest issue Ronny’s interest peeked 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 high. Eats same foods as you, even likes lollipops: simple to care for and train. Live delivery guaranteed. Only $18.95. Mail check or money order to: Animal Farm. Dept K26, Box 1042, Miami Beach 39, Florida.”
Ronny ran in to tell his mother and showed the ad to her.
“Oh, don’t fall for any more cheesy gags” his mother warned.
“But Mom, it’s 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 his door. Several minutes later, she knocked gently and silently opened his door. Ronny was pouting on his bed. She sat next to him and said, “All right. We’ll ask your daddy when he gets in from work tonight.”
Ronny stood straight up and ran around his room. “Wait. Ronny! Don’t be so happy now. Your father could say ‘No’.”
When his dad arrived home several hours later, Ronny ran to him and showed him the ad. “Can I have a monkey, please?” His father examined the ad as Ronny anxiously waited for the verdict.
“What in the world would you do with a small monkey?… What 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 monkey in 10 days, I’ll consider buying it for you. But, please think carefully about it before then.”
Certain that he would still want it in 10 days, Ronny ran around the house, then into his room where he finally wound down and fell asleep. The next day at school, he told his friends he was going to get a monkey. They all laughed at him because they had seen the same ad, but thought it was a scam. Others remembered all of the practical jokes Ronny bought from the comic book ads, and bet he would get the little monkey.
Anyway, Ronny counted down the days until his father agreed to fill out a check for $18.95.
“Are you sure this is what you want, son?”
“Well, let me have the ad and I’ll send a check for it in the mail. But I want you to promise to take care of it by yourself!”
“I will, Dad! I will.”
Ronny’s father mailed the order. A week went by, then two weeks. Ronny became concerned after six months had rolled by. Years came and went and still no monkey. Ronny simply forgot about what he could have owned. In the meantime, life moved on for Ronny. He went to high school, graduated from college, got married, and had children. “Ronny” became “Ronald.” His folks lived in a retirement home, while he and his family lived in the same house he grew up in.
On a Saturday, in 1982, Ronny was playing catch with Tyler, his 12-year-old son when a UPS truck stopped in front of his old house. The UPS driver walked over to Ronny and said, “I’ve got a delivery for Ronny Chimp.”
“That’s me, but nobody has called me ‘Ronny’ in many years. People call me ‘Ronald’.” The driver told him that he had a special delivery from NASA.
NASA? Why NASA?
The driver looked in the back of his seat and a small sound like “Eeeekk!..Eeeek!” came from the box.
He examined the box and saw rather large punched holes.
“It’s some kind of animal. Did you order an animal?”
He heard the sounds coming from the box. As Ronald rushed over to open the box, he quickly tore it open. Underneath was a cage with a small squirrel monkey inside.
Ronald’s mouth opened wide and an astonished look came in his eyes – “a squirrel monkey???” His mind suddenly reeled back to his childhood when he saw the ad for a squirrel monkey.
“I sent off for this monkey in the 1950’s when I was 10 years old!!… What in the world?!” The animal started jumping up and down and chirped louder. Then, his family came out to see what the noise was about. Ronald looked at the cage and saw an envelope attached outside the cage. He tore it off and began reading a letter:
From the National Space Aerodynamic Administration
To Whom This May Concern,
If you have received this Squirrel Monkey who we at NASA affectionately call “Miss Baker”, it is because you may have purchased one of these kinds of monkeys in the past. We are sorry you did not receive your animal, but now, we are giving you Miss Baker was purchased along with 25 other squirrel monkeys at a pet shop in Miami, Florida, and brought to the Naval Aviation Medical School in Pensacola. She is getting old and needs a new home. She began working for us in 1959 and became our first monkey in space. We sent her into space for 16 minutes and successfully returned in perfect health. No physical or mental abnormalities were found with her. Not only is she a historical monkey, she has developed keen knowledge and abilities. I have included photos of her while she was with us at NASA.
We will miss her, and we hope you take good care of her!
J. L. Flights, NASA Director of Astrophysics
The animal’s body was mostly brown. On its pink face were two black eyes, small nose, and a dark mouth. She stood roughly one foot tall, weighing about one and a half pounds. Ronald gave “Miss Baker” a smile, but he and his whole family seemed a bit stunned. Ronald’s little daughter, Tina was afraid to take her out, but Miss Baker immediately jumped up out of the cage, onto Tina and hugged her. Then, she quickly leaped to the ground, chirping at the same time. It was clear Tina was the monkey’s favorite member of the family, possibly because she could relate to Tina because she was small. After just 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. It seemed like a miracle somehow that the precious animal his father paid for so long ago finally made it to his house. Seeing the little monkey playing with his daughter, making her so happy made the long wait worth it.