In 1943 I was working in the Pentagon in Washington D.C. when I got orders to go to Natal Brazil.
I flew down, stopping on the way at Miami, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Belem, and finally at Natal.
Now, when I got into the APO--that means Army Post Office--I found a lot of things I had expected to find, and one thing I never did expect. The things I expected to find, and that were there, were, a Lieutenant, an SFC, a couple of Sergeants, one or two corporals, a couple of PFC's, a few privates, and the thing I never did expect was a monkey.
This monkey character was named Jocko. He was about 12 inches high, with a long tail, and kind of brownish hair. Besides eating and sleeping, there were only two things this guy Jocko liked to do. They were to smoke cigarettes and drink beer.
But he was afraid of fire, and you had to light his cigarettes for him. But that didn't bother him, he usually stole his cigarettes from people. All you had to do was light a cigarette and put it in an ash tray, and a little brown hand would come sneaking up over the side of your desk and swiiish--the cigarette would be gone. And there would be Jocko sitting up in the rafters smoking away. He would smoke a cigarette until it got so small it would burn his little finger, and then he would keep it in his mouth until it burned his lips, and he would spit it out.
But he discovered an easy way to steal his cigarettes. There was a guy, a Sergeant, named Dixie Davis who worked the Money Order window. Dixie and Jocko were great friends--Jocko used to sleep under Dixie's bed in the barracks.
Now Dixie used to smoke a pipe, so Jocko couldn't get any cigarettes out of him, but Dixie used to put an ash tray on his Money Order window, so that when the men came up to the window to buy a Money Order, they would put their cigarettes, if they were smoking, down on this ash tray while they took out their wallet and opened it to get their money.
As soon as they put it down a little brown paw would come sneaking around the corner of the window and -- swiiish --- the cigarette would be gone. All the guys would be so surprised to see a monkey smoking their cigarette that they would just bust out laughing at him. So Jocko got all the cigarettes he wanted.
At 5 o'clock, just before Retreat, the fellows would start to close the APO windows, and put their money and stamps away. Also at 5 o'clock, the PX Beer Garden opened. Of course Jocko couldn't tell time, but when he saw the fellows closing the windows he knew it was 5 o'clock, so he would go tearing off out the door and down by the Enlisted Men's Club to the PX Beer Garden.
Then Jocko would spend the rest of the night going from table to table draining the last of the beer from every beer bottle he could find. Once in a while someone would give him half a bottle full, and then he would roll over on his back, hold the beer bottle in his four hands, with his face up to the mouth of the bottle and drink it all up. Once he did this and the bottle slipped away from his mouth and all the beer came running out all over Jocko's face. It went in his eyes, up his nose, and when he opened his mouth to holler it ran down his throat. He was coughing and spitting and sneezing for about half an hour. Another time he was sitting on the edge of a table when someone gave him half a bottle of beer and when he went to lay back on his back he and the beer bottle fell off on the floor. The bottle got busted, and Jocko got a big bump on his head.
One afternoon about three months after I got there a long skinny old cat came to the back door of the APO. She looked as if she hadn't eaten a good meal in a week. So one of the fellows who had a small bottle of milk poured it out in a saucer and gave it to her. Another fellow was going over to the Mess Hall, and he brought the cat back some fish to eat. After that, you just couldn't get rid of that cat.
Not that anyone wanted to get rid of the cat, because we used to have mice in the office, and we figured the cat would keep them away. And she did too. I don't know if the cat killed all the mice, or if the mice just took off, but we never had any more mice after the cat came.
Everyone was trying to think of a name for the cat, and finally they decided on Daisy May.
I said no one had any objections to the cat, but that wasn't so. Jocko hated her. I guess he thought the APO was his, and that all the men there belonged to him, and he just didn't want any more animals but himself around there. Besides I guess he was afraid of her, because she looked so much like the panthers he had seen in the jungles when he was a little monkey. Whatever it was he hated Daisy May. He used to run along the rafters and throw pieces of plaster down at the cat, particularly if she was asleep. So poor Daisy May had an awful time finding a place to take a nap while Jocko was around.
Then too, I guess Daisy May was afraid of Jocko. I don't think she had ever seen a monkey before, and she thought he was some kind of little man. But if the two of them happened to meet, they would back away from each other and each would run the other way.
So, to keep from getting pieces of plaster dropped on her head when she was trying to take a nap, Daisy May tried sleeping under desks, but someone was always sitting at the desk and stepping on her. But one day the cat found that if the top drawer of the filing cabinet was open she could jump up there, crawl in, and go over the back of the top drawer and down into the second drawer and have a nice comfortable place to nap without the monkey dropping plaster on her or some guy stepping on her. So just about every day the cat would take her afternoon nap in the filing cabinet.
Well---one day the third drawer from the top of the filing cabinet happened to be open just a little. And who should come ambling along but old Jocko. He peeked in, and saw an old sweater someone had left there, and it was nice and dark and cool in there, and besides old Jocko had been up awful late the night before drinking beer at the PX, so he thought to himself this would be a good place to catch a little shut eye. So he crawled in.
A little while later one of the fellows came by and shut the drawer. He didn't know that our friend the monkey was inside. I don't know if shutting the drawer woke Jocko up or not, but if it did he didn't mind, so he went on sleeping.
A little later Corporal Isaacs came in to do some work, and he opened the top drawer and the second drawer of the same filing cabinet to get out some papers. After he got his papers he left the two drawers open while he went over to his desk.
Then who should come wandering in, yawning and stretching, but Daisy May the cat. She was looking for a place where she could get a little undisturbed sleep. The minute she spotted the open drawers of the filing cabinet, she jumped up on top and crawled in to the top drawer. As soon as she got in the drawer, she crawled to the back, climbed over the back and jumped down. I guess she expected to land in the second drawer, but since that was open too, she fell down to the third drawer
RIGHT ON TOP OF JOCKO.
Well, you should have heard the commotion. Poor Jocko thought the cat had caught him, and he started punching with all four fists. For a minute Daisy May didn't know what had happened, but once Jocko grabbed her, she thought the monkey had caught her, and she started to fight back. All you could hear was spitting, and yowling, screaming, yelling, bumping and thumping. Such a commotion you never did hear. Heads and elbows and legs were crashing up against the sides of the cabinet, and the most awful noises coming out of there. I guess both of them wanted to run away, but there was no way of getting out.
Corporal Isaacs jumped up and started opening drawers. I guess he opened every drawer but the right one three or four times before he finally got the third drawer opened, and as soon as he pulled it out, the cat came out one side and the monkey the other, both running.
Jocko hopped up on a chair, then a desk, then a window, and finally got to a rafter, and he didn't come down until it was time to go to the PX and get his beer. His little tummy was all scratched, and he sure was one scared little monkey. THe fellows kept passing him lighted cigarettes to calm him down.
But poor old Daisy May went running out that door yelling and spitting, and she didn't get back until almost 8 o'clock that night. I guess she ran so far without stopping that it took her all afternoon and half the evening to walk back.
Neither of them ever went near the filing cabinet again.
Jocko took to sleeping up on the rafters again, even though he almost fell off once while he was sleeping, and the cat found a shelf in the APO where the monkey couldn't drop things on her, and no one would step on her.