Cranks My Tractor

Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 09:38 AM.

It was old, but I couldn’t really tell how old it was.  There was no date stamped on the front and I wanted to handle it carefully until I could get to a place I could examine it more carefully.  We were in a dark place where my Papa hid things that only we know about.  (I say this just to irritate some of my relatives who think we know the hiding place of my Papa’s treasure.)

In trying to determine the age of the map, I first looked at the “popular points of interest.”  As the American Oil Company map states, “To help add adventure to your trip, high lights of popular points of interest are described below.”

One place of particular interest to me was Cape Canaveral, Florida.  On the map it noted that Cape Canaveral was home of the United States Missile Center and launching site.  I knew that around 1960, the "Missile Firing Laboratory" as it was called had become an extension of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Later in 1962, Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Operations Center was established as an independent NASA field center, separate from the Alabama NASA location.

The map seemed to be from the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.

Checking Boca Raton’s key attraction, I found “Africa U.S.A.”   This turned out to be a really interesting place on the map (or it used to be).  On March 10, 1953, John Pedersen opened Africa U.S.A. to the public. The admission to the gardens areas was free, and the Jungle Train Tour was 95 cents.

The Jungle Train was open-air.  In other words, there were no bars protecting you from the wild beasts.

It sounded like a lot of fun.  It was a zoo with no cages where visitors “could safely interact with the animals.” Pedersen roamed the world collecting animals and buying them from other zoos.  These included camels, elephants and giraffe. The herds began to grow as the animals adapted to the South Florida climate.

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