Friday, August 31, 2012

My Grandmother had a Pet Raccoon

Have you ever played the party game where you're having a conversation with someone you've just met and you're comparing crazy families? I call it the "My Family is Crazier than Your Family." And I pretty much always win, unless they are lying.

But then in March, my daughter, Laura, introduced me to The Bloggess. I was hooked! I love Jenny Lawson! And when her book, Let's Pretend The Never Happened, came out, I had to have it. I read it out loud to Roland. He even chuckled now and then. Even when I couldn't read because I was laughing so hard. (Note: there are some serious and sad parts, too... not everyone's life is funny ALL the time).

Jenny and me at the Barnes & Noble, Atlanta

The reason I'm tellling you about the Bloggess, is that hands down, she wins the game. She explains why in the 2nd chapter where she lays out "the 11 things most people have never experienced...". Of course, she grew up in rural west Texas, and I grew up in urban, Dallas, Texas, so I did have non-poisonous running tap water. And, while I do know what a cistern is, we didn't have one.

But I'm reading out loud to Roland on our way to a folk art auction in Buford, Georgia and I get to #5. Quoting directly from the book: "Most People don't have live raccoons in the house." Well, I'm here to tell you that my dad's mom, my grandmother, Curtis, had a pet raccoon named Ringo. It was in the 60s, so I'm not sure if he's named after that famous Beatle, Ringo Starr, or just because he had rings around his tail. Honestly, my bet is on the rings around the tail.

A few of the differences (I won't give away all the funny parts of her story):
  • Jenny's family had multiple raccoons living in the house that she, herself lived in. Curtis (I'll tell you the story of her name in another post) just had the one. And I didn't live with Curtis, but we all lived in Dallas, and got together frequently for family, um, get-togethers. Anyway, we saw them a lot.
  • Jenny's mom sewed tiny clothes for them (jams, specifically). The jury is out on whether or not Ringo wore clothes, but given how Curtis loved to dress her little chihuahua, Quincy, in outfits many years later, there is a definite possibility that Ringo didn't go around naked every day.
  • Jenny's family culled the crowd down to just one by letting some of them go, but it appears that raccoon ran around the house a lot, until he got banished outside to a chicken cage. Ringo lived in my grandmother's spacious pink bathroom, and ultimately in a screened-in porch that legend (my memory) has it was built just for him. Complete with small pool and tree. Do raccoons like trees?
I'm not really sure what ever happened to Ringo. Like I said, it was the 60s, and I was just a kid. Ringo came out at all the family functions, and I seem to remember being allowed to pet him (carefully), and admire the uniqueness of having a pet raccoon.

 Hard to tell from the poor quality of a 40+ year old polaroid, but I think they were inside in the room commonly known to the family as the "game room."

 Buddy was the family collie that was apparently a playmate for Ringo. Or was it the other way around. Not pictured: the 15 or 20 cats that were also family pets.


  1. I love hearing crazy family stories Elle and I definitely need to pick that book up for a read :D --- I certainly have my share of oddball family members and goofy stories/memories to go along with that.

    Regarding pet raccoons, my sister's childhood best friend's family (they lived just down the street) had a pet house raccoon too --- and nearly every time I saw that raccoon (once or twice a week, consequently dozens & dozens of times) it was standing on it's back feet in the living room chugging down a bottle of soda! Not sure what fascinated me more --- that the raccoon drank soda with such gusto, or that the children (and raccoon) were allowed to drink it (soda was forbidden in our home) LOL!

  2. Oh yes- thanks for reminding me of her book - as I have been searching for something to download to the ibooks - bet hers is an option:)

    So funny about your "uncle" raccoon and the above one chugging down soda - I always thought they were quite vicious???? Appears I was wrong- wearing small clothes, playing with Collies and chugging soda- they sound fun to me!

  3. Wow! What a fun story. I'm gonna check out that book. Thank you. g