Remembering Monkey Island at Lake Meyers

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The story George Sinclair told about Monkey Island at Meyers Lake Amusement Park over three decades ago is either a fondly repeated legend or a laughable story.

Sinclair, the last guardian of the community icon who was his family’s business in his day and also during the decades when Meyers Lake Park was owned by his father and grandfather, chuckled loudly as he recalled the fortified enclosure filled with monkeys and moats. protected attraction at amusement park northwest of Guangzhou.

“They used to clean the island every Monday, and once my dad said to the grounds foreman, ‘When you come back for lunch, leave a plank across (the ditch),'” Sinclair said in an interview for this chronicle in the summer of 2019. 1988.

Many will recall a “monkey attack” the city suffered after what was referred to in this Monday After article as the grounds foreman’s “planned error”. Sinclair remembered it vividly.

“Forty-two monkeys escaped to Canton,” he said. “They went free for three weeks. Every day we had free publicity. The last one we took was in 12th and Cleveland. He was inside a woman’s apartment, tearing down her curtains. “

The recent event serves as a reminder

We were reminded of the story of this circus-like promotional event earlier this year, when several news agencies reported the story of the trio of monkeys who escaped from a trailer after crashing on a highway in Pennsylvania.

The story wasn’t as laughable as Sinclair’s. The three monkeys were “part of a shipment of 100 cynomolgus macaque monkeys from Mauritius to an unnamed CDC-approved facility used to quarantine foreign animals,” NBC News reported in January. They were picked up the next day and had to be euthanized “after authorities assessed the potential health risks”.

Still, it reminded me that monkeys can act, well, like monkeys – wild animals that, when given the chance, will seek to find the wilderness where they came from.

There are those who have since maintained that the escape described by Sinclair never happened, that the gardener who oversaw the park at this unidentified time in Meyers Lake’s history never provided the plank as a way simian evacuation. This review might be correct. Sinclair might just have repeated a favorite story in the family lore.

Or, the story could have still been factual, and a Canton woman was sent to buy a new set of window coverings.

Verification of log archives

What can be easily determined is that Monkey Island existed for a relatively short time at Meyers Lake Amusement Park and, according to several articles in the Repository over the years, many monkeys have escaped from it. .

“Monks Are Jumping Over Limits Again,” read a headline in The Evening Repository on August 8, 1927. Apparently it had all happened before in the popular summertime entertainment spot.

“Residents of Monkey Island at Meyers Lake Park caused their second sensation of the season on Sunday when 18 of the largest animals escaped the park’s boundaries and sought freedom,” said an article in today’s edition. . “The continued practice of running a jump from the island allowed them to reach the wall surrounding the zoo; the escape was easy.”

Baskets left unattended by picnickers at the park “were stripped of food,” the article noted. The neighbors were awakened.

“Harold Rosenberry, who lives in a cottage in the park, was awakened early Monday by knocking on the roof of the cottage and found monkeys on the windows and doors, as well as on the roof.

“Efforts by attendants to capture the animals proved futile.”

Chaos repeated in later escape

Another of a number of simian escapes occurred in the summer of 1938, albeit a small one.

“The monkey hunt began on Friday when two members of the Meyers Lake Park Island Colony escaped,” said a front-page article published Saturday, August 20, 1938 in what was then called The Canton Repository and The Canton Daily News.

The article reported news that indicated there would be a sadder outcome to this story than the story later told by Sinclair.

“One was picked up yesterday by lake workers, but the other has remained loose. Management has warned police to be on the lookout for the animal and kill it on sight.”

Police in police cars “watched all afternoon and night but the monkey managed to stay out of sight”, the newspaper reported.

“At approximately 6.30am today, police received a call that a monkey was disturbing the calm of residents of Clarendon Avenue and Ninth St. NW by running across the rooftops.”

Thus, the chase by the police resumed. Patrol officers Henry Swallen and RE Leonard responded first and were told that when first seen by locals the monkey was ‘running across the roofs of houses’ in the 900 block of Clarendon .

“The animal appeared to be searching for an open window,” the Repository reported. “When the monkey crossed the street to Waltz’s house, the family decided it was time to act. When the police arrived, they had moved south on Clarendon and played hide and seek for half an hour with the agents.”

The monkey was cornered, according to the story, at Jacob Karper’s home on Clarendon Avenue.

“Eventually, after cajoling and threats failed to bring the monkey back into the clutches of the law, Patrolman Swallen put him down.”

Nobody would have laughed. This part of the story was all too sadly real.

Contact Gary at [email protected] On Twitter: @gbrownREP.

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