An Alligator Named "George"

by Tina Blue
December 20, 2000

          In 1960, when I was ten years old, the family was living in Florida. My father's family lived in Pennsylvania. That summer, Mom and Dad piled all six of us kids into the Dodge station wagon, and we headed up the eastern seaboard to visit Grandma and Grandpa Salvo in Pennsylvania.

          We came bearing gifts. Well, gift, actually. His name was George.  George was a baby caiman--a dwarf alligator. He was the center of attention, ours and everyone else's, throughout the trip. We'd stop at a hamburger joint for lunch, and afterward Mom would ask to buy some raw hamburger.

          Naturally, the employees would want to know what she needed raw hamburger for, so she'd tell them, "The alligator is hungry."

          WHOOOSH! The store would empty and everyone--employees, customers, random passersby--would be out by the station wagon watching George eat.

          It was a more innocent time back then. Nowadays, everyone has seen everything. I don't think you could get anyone that excited if you had a fire-breathing dragon out there.

          George did well that summer in Pennsylvania. There was an abundant supply of peeper frogs for him to eat. Snap! he'd go, and all you could see would be four tiny frog legs dangling from his mouth. Glumph! he'd go, and he'd swallow them right down.

          By the time George died, he was almost two feet long. That's a lot of raw hamburger and peeper frogs. Grandpa said George was the best gift he ever got.

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