When I was a boy, I had a pet, an alligator named Charlie. I only had Charlie for a brief period, perhaps a month or two. My Mother and I had philosophical differences on the keeping of an alligator as a pet, and more specifically, where I housed said alligator. She found it objectionable to discover the alligator bathing in her stationery tub when she was doing laundry, particularly when she did not expect to find Charlie there. But the story here is not that I had an alligator for a pet, but how this all came about. Here is that story.
In the late 1950s my father, Carl Lind, was a Cincinnati Police Lieutenant and was assigned as the commander of what was then called the Vice Control Bureau. Part of his duties in the containment of vice activities in the City of Cincinnati was suppressing the availability of pornography, or what was considered pornography at the time. He often found himself working closely with a watchdog group of the day, known as the Citizen’s for Decent Literature (CDL). The founder of this group was a local Cincinnati attorney, Charles H. Keating, Jr. Mr. Keating and my father often worked hand in hand in the crusade to keep Cincinnati porn free.
As I recall the story, Mr. Keating was planning a vacation trip to Florida. Prior to departure he asked my father if he could send him anything from Florida. Dad jokingly replied, “Sure, send me an alligator”. About one week later a small cardboard box, containing many holes, arrived. Upon opening the box, we discovered within a live alligator (or maybe it was a caiman). Although my mother and sisters were not impressed, I immediately adopted the reptile as my own and quickly named him Charlie, in honor of the benefactor.
I truly believed that Charlie was a great pet. He would quietly fall asleep when given a belly rub, and I loved the reaction I would get from the girls in the neighborhood when I would show up with Charlie happily perched upon my shoulder. Unfortunately, the relationship was short-lived. There is an old Country and Western song by T. Texas Tyler titled “Dad Gave My Dog Away”. A song entitled “Mom Gave My Alligator Away” would probably not have received much interest. but that is exactly what happened. Mom did give my alligator away. She gave it to a co-worker, ironically also named Charlie. I guess that was karma on some level. As a side note, earlier in my boyhood my Dad did give my dog away. Some issues with him chasing cars and biting the mailman, if one can believe that.
I tell this story because it could be lost to time if not documented. Historically Charles H. Keating, Jr. may be remembered for his participation in policing the morals of Cincinnati, or later for his part in a savings and loan scandal. but I shall always remember him for his generous gift of an alligator known as Charlie. I also had a pet turtle named Fidel, but that is another story for another day.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
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