Cocoa the Monkey

Frank’s father Joseph had a sister named Nora who lived next door. Nora was married to a man named Jerry Mak and the couple had 6 children: 3 sons, of all whom served in the army, and 3 daughters. Nora and Jerry’s daughter, Betty Mak, married a sailor named Eddie Chobit, a navy man who served in the Pacific during the war. 

Eddie was stationed in San Diego, and before coming home on leave one time, he and a couple of friends took a day trip to Mexico. Once there, Eddie met a man who was selling monkeys and he decided to buy one for his son’s upcoming 8th birthday. He brought Cocoa the monkey back home to Brockton with him, and everyone absolutely loved the little monkey—at least at first they did.

Pretty soon, Cocoa, who loved climbing up the curtains and snapping off all the leaves on the houseplants, wore out his welcome and was in need of a new home. Frank’s sister Marie would often visit next door with Betty, and one day, Betty mentioned to her that they were looking to get rid of the monkey. Marie went home and told this to Joseph, to which he replied, “I’ll take it!”, and just like that, Cocoa came to live with the O’Connell’s.

Joseph loved that little monkey. They’d take him out of his cage and Cocoa would jump right up on Joseph’s head, and proceed to groom him, looking into his ears, and going through his hair, strand by strand.

One day, when Joseph was visiting with his daughter Maddie, Cocoa got loose and climbed up on the big, black railroad bridge next to her house. He was up there, swinging away on the girders for hours and hours, ignoring everyone’s attempts to get him down. Finally, a crowd amassed, and the press showed up. The story in the Brockton Enterprise:

“When Cocoa, two-year old Mexican monkey owned by former Brocktonian Joseph V. O’Connell, 51 Jackson Avenue, Fitchburg, visited his one-time home on Curve Street Sunday afternoon, he took it in mind to do a little exploring. And the result was that for nearly an hour residents of the neighborhood were in a dither as Cocoa cavorted on the railroad footbridge at Union Street, dangling from the girders until he was finally chased home be neighbors and coaxed back into his cage by his owner. Shown with him on the bridge are: Warren A. Raynard, 25 of 638 Montello Street; Mr. O’Connell, Robert E Raynard, 16, of 638 Montello Street; Edward F. O’Connell, Jr. 17, of 589 Montello street, all of whom assisted in the chase. O’Connell was visiting his son-in-law and daughter, Mr and Mrs. George Gilbert of 14 Curve Street”. 

Soon after Cocoa’s big adventure, the women of the house, Isabelle and Mary, George’s wife (George and Mary were living with the O’Connell’s at the time while they were saving up for their own place), had had enough of the rambunctious monkey’s antics and turned on poor little Cocoa. The final straw came one day when George came over to visit Helen and Frank without Mary. When they asked where she was, George replied that she was home washing her hair, cursing Cocoa who had gone to the bathroom right on her head.

The O’Connell family kept Cocoa for quite a while, but they eventually gave him to a little zoo in Egypt, Massachusetts. Joseph would pay him a visit from time to time, and Cocoa always remembered his former owner.

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