I realize that it is an odd topic to write a blog post on, but crocodiles and alligators have been consuming my thoughts for the last week or so and a collection I have been processing sealed the deal on me writing about them.
Why I’ve Been Thinking About Alligators: My husband is a herpetologist (studies and works with reptiles & amphibians) and is at a 9-day workshop on Crocodilians. As I write this he’s actually in St. Augustine Florida right now observing mating patterns in American alligators. My little piece of the action, however, is relegated to scouring the archives for reptile-related ephemera.
What I’ve Found in the Archive:
- Leroy Sullivan Collection– This is the collection I was processing last week. Leroy Sullivan was a Flight Lieutenant for the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. In our collection, we have his correspondence to friend, and former UC librarian, Grady Long. Also included are 3 diaries written by “Sully” while he was overseas (which I read cover to cover). In 1942 he and his squadron found themselves in Africa- first in South African, then Sudan, then on to Cairo. While in Cairo he writes “Have been doing a bit of crocodile shooting on the Nile lately but bullets bounce off like rain drops!” Okay, so I read this the day after my husband leaves for “croc school” and I know that I have to keep digging to see what else I can find!
- The image above is from an old book in the Chattanooga Today series and is of Fireman’s Fountain, which can still be found in downtown Chattanooga near the courthouse. No longer remaining, however, are the alligators. They were a short lived addition to the fountain area around the early 1900’s. (LOVE the tiny wire fence surrounding the fountain square!)
- The image below is of an original watercolor by Barry Moser, created for the book Whistlin’ Dixie. We have both the book and the original watercolor in the Special Collections department.
- The Robert Sparks Walker Collection contains poems written by the Chattanooga naturalist on every animal imaginable. I have no doubt that the alligator is represented (seeing as Walker wrote poems about such unlikely candidates as the leech and the potato bug), but I did not have the time to scour all 105 boxes of the collection.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Okay, so this one is kind of cheating. I know that the “Crocodile” poem is in this book and we have 4 amazingly illustrated copies here in the Special Collections. No illustration for the poem though 🙁 .
I found this such an interesting exercise- almost like a game. “Crocodiles- how many references to them can you find in the archive? Go!” If I had all day to wile away looking for related materials, I know I could find more. Come visit us in the Special Collections and see what you can dig up!