When I saw this photo in a collection brought in for our upcoming "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit, I had to ask the donor more questions. How did a chimp happen to attend a birthday party? Was it a pet? Or was the chimp borrowed? I've heard of renting ponies or magicians for a child's celebration, but never a monkey.
Al and Fran Siftar, who have lived at 4248 Crocker Avenue in Morningside since 1957, had three children with birthdays in the same week. Understandably, the combined birthday parties were a big deal in their house. One of the first memorable celebrations included a October 1959 visit from Zsa Zsa, a chimp from the Southdale mall petting zoo that the Siftar kids liked to visit every Sunday afternoon. For "something like $25," Al picked up the chimp and brought her home to the children (who appear to take their unusual visitor in stride. They seem much more fascinated by the cake.)
Maybe a chimpanzee visit was a common occurrence in Edina, I don't know. But it was unusual enough that the Minneapolis Tribune published the above photo of Suzanne, 3, Frances, 2, and Charles, 1.
In case you're wondering, future Siftar birthday parties would also include pony rides and clowns.
How did you celebrate your birthday? Was it a simple celebration at home with your family or did you go somewhere like Queen Anne Kiddieland or Chuck E. Cheese? Did you have a special cake? What were some memorable presents? I think it would be fun to include a collage of birthday celebrations in the exhibit. Contact me about donating your photo, or loaning it for us to copy.
Note: I will write about the petting zoo at Southdale mall in a future post. We have a photo of the pens located in the garden court area when it opened, but I haven't scanned it yet. If you remember anything about the popular attraction when Southdale first open, I'd love to hear your stories.
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