Annie's Micro-Museum

My Dad had a monkey in college named JoJo

So, My Dad had a monkey in college. Writing this, I know most people would be like, “What? Are you kidding me?” Nope. He did. His name was JoJo. My Dad’s told me stories about JoJo so many times.

While I typically only blog about my own stories, I feel like hearing ones about JoJo over and over again kinda make them my own to retell. So I’m gonna. But in this case, I’ve also texted and talked to my Dad a bit to fill in some gaps for accuracy. Mainly dates and numbers kind of stuff. Oh, and to get pictures!

Here’s his monkey JoJo, so you believe me. (Evidence this is no fish tale.)

My Dad's monkey JoJo, 1968
My Dad’s monkey JoJo with his roommate, 1968

Check out the Beatles poster on the closet door!

“It was a crazy time, Annie”

My Dad went to school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in the late 1960s, early 70s. He was a freshman in 1968 there, and if you know anything about what was going on at that time in history… “It was a crazy time, Annie,” is how he’s often put it. My Dad has said this to me many times. But since this is my blog, not his, I can only write about the stuff my Dad told me about from his college days. So here it goes…

My Dad’s monkey was named JoJo.

My Dad lived in the dorms on the UW campus during college. His dorm was called Ogg Hall his Freshman year, which he lived in starting in the fall of 1968. His roommate was named Don he tells me. The picture above is of his roommate, not my Dad actually. My Dad must have been taking the photo. He said he couldn’t find the photo of himself with the monkey he remembers having, but he’ll keep looking.

It was an all male dorm, and he shared this room. I guess at that time the male dorms actually had maid service! Can you believe it? He said he had to sort of hide his pet monkey from them. I’m not so sure he was supposed to have a pet in the dorms at all, let alone a monkey! I have no idea either how he hid JoJo.

But he tells me he bought a small squirrel monkey one day and had it for about six months in college before he resold it. The monkey’s name was JoJo.

JoJo got drunk once.

Guys living in the dorm were allowed to have beer in their rooms I guess, or if they weren’t it wasn’t enforced. Dad says the drinking age was only 18 at the time. Anyway, my Dad tells me that one day he left a beer unattended on the nightstand and JoJo sat there dipping a hand inside and taking a sip. Now he also tells me JoJo sometimes liked to look into mouths, sometimes pulling lips to get a better look.  He’d also gnaw at hands a lot, sometimes drawing blood. So I guess he was somewhat curious and slightly hyper. But, why wouldn’t he be? JoJo was a monkey in a dorm room!

With the beer sitting in front of JoJo, the monkey stuck his little hand in once, then did it again, and then some more like he got to liking the taste of it… a lot.

As the story goes… My Dad sat there watching JoJo do this. Then all of a sudden JoJo got really excited and started running really fast up the wall and all around the room in loops. He knocked over some things and even used my Dad’s guitar strings to scoot up the wall by holding onto them, climbing up to the next highest thing he could find. He jumped around the room and got really crazy.

Dad said it was really funny, but he didn’t let him drink beer again.

I always loved hearing the part about JoJo using the guitar strings to climb up the wall. That’s painted a picture in my mind of the scene and described how my Dad loved music and playing guitar at the time. Learning to play guitar now myself, I appreciate that memory he shared a little bit more now.

Here he is again, being held by his roommate. Kinda looks like JoJo is about ready to gnaw a hand, doesn’t he?

Pet squirrel monkey, 1968 UW Madison campus
JoJo with my Dad’s dorm roommate

JoJo was a mess to clean up after, but he sure loved corn nuts!

Just the other day I was down visiting my Dad at his house. I had just bought a bag of corn nuts at the Kwik Trip. I put the bag on his counter, and my Dad ate a few. He said, “JoJo used to love these,” and Dad ate a few more. This moment was the inspiration for this post, not an object at all this time. Just a few corn nuts on the counter and my Dad’s comment. It sparked his memory, and mine.

I can’t remember if he followed with “Did I ever tell you about the time I had a monkey named JoJo?” But when I was a little girl, this is the type of scenario that would prompt Dad to begin telling me, and retelling me, the stories about his monkey.

Like he’d often talk about the time cleaning up after JoJo got to be too much. The monkey used to poop all over the place, he’d say. It wasn’t trained, or house broken, or anything like a pet dog or cat would be. It just went anywhere and everywhere. It got really gross Dad said. Guess the dorm maids didn’t help with that.

My Dad ultimately decided having a monkey was too much work and sold JoJo.

That’s about all I can remember too. But, I think that whenever I see corn nuts from now on I will think of JoJo and my Dad.

Here’s one more picture of JoJo! Are those beer cans behind his roommate? Guess it was a “crazy time” after all Dad. Now, where’s that picture of you?


Did you have an unusual pet or know someone close to you that did? What funny stories or mishaps do you recall happening?
I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.



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