I’ve been trying to get the details of this story for awhile now, but it’s been extremely difficult because my aunt, who has a major role in the story, lives in Hawaii. Now, to my great delight, my aunt has come up to Nelson [Kristy’s hometown in B.C.], and is staying with us here. This has given me an opportunity to enquire about the particulars of this story which has captivated me since I was about four years old.
It’s too bad that so many of the details of the story have been lost forever because Marilyn (my aunt) has a terrible memory, but between my mom, my grandma (who is also visiting) and Marilyn, we were able to put some of the pieces together, enough to write about at any rate.
Marilyn was in the Ice Capades. She skated in the chorus and travelled to different countries to perform.
At eighteen, Marilyn got to go to Brazil with her skating group. She and her girlfriend got a room all to themselves. Needless to say, they were in their glory staying there.
One of Marilyn’s endeavours while she was on this trip was to buy a small gift for everyone back home. She had no trouble doing this for anyone, except her brother, Martin. He was hard to shop for. Her roommate had bought souvenirs for her family and friends, too, including a live jaguar. He stayed in the hotel room with them. His presence put Marilyn a bit on edge, especially sleeping at night, but it was this that sparked Marilyn’s idea to get her brother a pet monkey.
She went to the pet shop the next day, and picked out the little monkey with the big eyes for Martin. It didn’t cost very much, and the owner of the pet shop had all the papers proving that it had undergone all the necessary vaccinations and that it was disease free. So Marilyn bought the monkey, and took it and its papers back to the hotel. With a jaguar and a monkey in their room, things were a bit chaotic. Most of the people on that tour had some kind of animal in their room that they intended to take home. A monkey was probably the least vicious of them all.
Then it was time for them to leave Brazil and come back to Canada. Their flight wasn’t direct. It stopped in New York, where they would have to transfer, then went to Vancouver and finally to Penticton. Until I heard the real story, I had always assumed that the whole act of bringing an animal across the international borders was illegal, but because Marilyn did have the legal documents, the monkey was technically allowed into Canada. The only thing that was illegal, was that Marilyn sneaked it onto the fuselage of the plane. She didn’t really make the proper preparations to put the monkey in a cage underneath the plane, so Marilyn just placed it in her soft bag, and carried it on. She doesn’t really remember most of this part of the story. This really surprises me, because for me, this would be the part that I’d never forget. But I guess it can be assumed that there was no real trouble at customs, because Marilyn and the monkey made it to New York City okay. Then, in New York, they had to switch planes. As Marilyn was walking through the station, the monkey managed to make its way out of its super secret hiding place, the purse, and leapt into the crowd. Marilyn had to chase after the monkey, dashing between the crowds of people, for a good ten minutes until finally cornering her and replacing her in the bag.
Once on the plane, she can remember looking down at the bag at her feet, and opening it a little, The monkey’s little head popped out, and Marilyn told her that she’d have to stay there for awhile, then closed it back up. She doesn’t have any recollection of the rest of the flight home, but Mom and Grandma both remember their surprise at seeing Marilyn and the wee primate arrive at their home in the Okanagan. She gave the monkey to Martin. It was his present.
Martin didn’t like the monkey, which he named Boo-Boo, and Boo-Boo didn’t like Martin. Mom and Boo-Boo got along well though. Boo-Boo would sit near mom’s face and try to pick the mole on her face off, and mom and her friend, who were about ten, would take Boo-Boo on walks downtown. They liked the attention they got from having a monkey dangling off their arms. People would ask them, all shocked like, “Is that a monkey on your arm?” and Mom and Les always loved to answer all the questions, and basked in the glory of having such a special pet.
They kept Boo-Boo for about a year. They kept her out in their yard, on a leash. No one except Grandma really took care of Boo-Boo, the feeding and cleaning part. Grandma started to feel sorry for Boo-Boo and felt that it was unkind to have a monkey restricted on a leash and confined to a backyard. So when mom was in grade six, they gave Boo-Boo to the Okanagan Game Farm, where they thought she would be happier. She would be provided with a better habitat and there would be other monkeys around for company. For years after that no one knew how Boo-Boo was doing, or thought to go over to the game farm.
Then, one day, when Mom was in grade eleven, a schoolmate did a project on the game farm. He had taken some slides of the animals there, and showed it to the class. Midway through the presentation, a monkey was shown on the screen. It was Boo-Boo. Delighted, Mom stood up and yelled, “Boo-Boo… that’s my monkey!”