Sara Morris Swetcharnik

Charlie the Raccoon

By Sara Morris Swetcharnik

Charlie the raccoon was one of George's odder houseguests. His workers had found him at an excavation site, a tiny coon barely able to crawl. With effort the raccoon could slowly propel his body forward, but when inertia took over he could not control his balance. However Charlie would pick himself up and soon had a baffling talent for getting around and foraging.

One day when the raccoon wandered out near the river at flood tide, George finally found him clinging to a tree, surrounded by water.

On another occasion, when a tractor ran over a nearby hutch of rabbits, George brought a surviving baby back to his trailer. He put the rabbit in a box and kept Charlie away in a separate cage. One night, however, Charlie managed to get out, and the next morning all that was left of the baby rabbit was a little bit of fur.

Then Charlie learned to open the refrigerator door. It took George a while to figure out what was happening. First, there was the mystery of the hollow eggs. Each morning, George would get up to make breakfast, open the refrigerator, and discover that some prankster had made a tiny hole in each egg and removed the contents. Finally, he discovered that it was not one of the guys on the project team but his own houseguest.

(Based on field experiences of anthropologist George Hasemann.)