An Alligator Named Charlie

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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Tom Lind

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  1. AnonymousJanuary 6, 2017

    Happy to see you are writing again!

    1. Tom LindJanuary 6, 2017

      Thank you, it is good to be writing again, and it is good to note that at least one person read it.

      1. AnonymousJanuary 6, 2017

        Oh don’t stop writing, more than one person enjoys it ! Noone else tells it like it is, or it was. At least not quite like you ! As you were !

  2. Judy aka Judi aka JudithJanuary 6, 2017

    I remember this so well and I knew Charlie Keating was involved but not the whole story! I love when you blog our family stories because I probably never would have thought of this ever again! The best part is that it brings back the whole feeling of our family at that time in our lives ! I remember him being in the bathtub when he first arrived! And the (initial) thrill oh having got a live alligator in the mail! If you are speaking about Bing he is associated in some way as the root of my lifelong fear of dogs!

  3. AnonymousJanuary 6, 2017

    Made me laugh. My brothers had a pet alligator. They kep it in a large aquarium which had a little “pool” for swimming. The alligator outgrew its home and disappeared during the night. We were terrified that it was loose in the house –
    But my mother sssured us that it’s mother sent angels to help it escape so it could live with her once again. Gosh, we believed anything back then!

    1. AnonymousJanuary 6, 2017

      Great comment. This brings to mind; at what point did some of us become conservatives ? Ha Ha


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