Monday, February 13, 2023

The One Where I Explain the Raccoon

I included this photo of John's family in last Friday's post and lots of people wondered about the raccoon. 

Raccoons were a big part of John's life growing up, so I didn't even think about it when I used this photo. That is John holding the raccoon and his name is Scamper.

I need to explain some details about Scamper. Someone gave John's father a baby raccoon that they had found and John's Dad brought it home. From the best John can remember, that happened in 1969. The raccoon was really little and his eyes weren't even open, but they fed him milk with an eye dropper and eventually oatmeal thinned with milk or cat food. 

This is the first Scamper in 1969. 
They built a cage for him but he quickly figured out how to escape and would scamper up the drainpipe to the second floor where John slept with his brothers and come in the window. John really loved Scamper and even though the whole family fed him, John considered him "his" raccoon. Scamper would ride in a basket on John's bike and do almost everything with him. They kept Scamper for the summer but thought that it would be unfair to continue to treat him as a pet once the kids were back in school, so they let him go. This wasn't difficult since he knew how to get out of the cage and their house is bordered by acres of woods, so Scamper went back to the wild. 

These two photos above are from the summer of 1970 and Scamper is back! Well, not really. John is a little hazy about how they got another raccoon, but they did and his name was Scamper 2 for about 10 minutes and then he was just Scamper. They all loved having another raccoon and John's mother was often the one to make his oatmeal and hold him. 

This is John's younger sister in the fall of 1970 holding Scamper and their cat. They let Scamper 2 go back to the woods, until ...

Scamper returned! (Again, not really.) John has no idea how they got a raccoon for a third summer, but it happened. This one was more of an adult and seemed to enjoy sitting in the living room with the cat. Scamper went back to the woods in the fall, and then the process started all over again in the first photo from 1972. 

They didn't have a raccoon for the summers of 1973 and 1974, but it happened one last time in 1975. 

This is John and his younger brother playing with Scamper by his cage in 1975. John had raccoons for five summers, and even though they were different raccoons each year they were all called Scamper. If John could have a raccoon here in New Jersey he would but it's not legal and just not right to keep a wild animal. He has said that even though they put the raccoons in a cage, they all figured out how to get out quickly and stuck around for most of the summer because they could always get food. Knowing John's mother, she probably made their oatmeal with plenty of brown sugar. 

So that's the story of why John is holding a raccoon in the initial photo. Scamper was a big part of John's childhood and a big part of the family. 


  1. wow! that is such a fun story and an unusual one. I cannot imagine a raccoon in this house with Holly and Frodo - that would be mayhem!!

  2. This is hysterical! It makes me wonder if each Scamper would go back to the wild and tell all his friends about these great people who'd give you all the food you'd want and then they'd have a contest to see which lucky raccoon would get to be Scamper each year.

  3. This is absolutely hysterical! And I love Sarah's take on the Raccoon Community holding a lottery to see who would be Scamper for the summer!

  4. Hahahahaha - what a wonderful story Bonny! I like Sarah's idea too of a raccoon community holding a lottery! I especially like the pictures of Scamper with the cat. I remember my Dad talking about having a pet skunk for awhile. That was a pretty popular thing way back in the day in Vermont!

  5. That photo of John holding teeny-tiny Scamper is precious!!!

  6. I have always thought raccoons were adorable enough to be house pets . . . so it's fun to see John's family making that happen! I love the story about John and Scamper (ALL of the Scampers), and I'm so glad you shared it today. (And Sarah's take on the story is such a fun one. It would make a great children's book, don't you think?) XO

  7. I had friends as a kid whose family had raccoons that showed up every year to spend the summer with them too! Theirs was always named "Rocky."

  8. Like everyone else, I just love this! And I think Sarah and Kym are definitely onto something - a children's book about all the Scampers!

  9. well that's fun! and I'm sure you're SO GLAD that it's illegal in NJ to have a pet raccoon?!

  10. What a great story. My hat is off to John's mother for letting her sons enjoy the raccoons.


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