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Scales and Tales

Practical Jokes at Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens' founder Earl Brockelsby (1916-1993) was notorious for his elaborate & sometimes nasty practical jokes. Among them were:

*Propping open the mouth of a dead alligator with the Sunday newspaper inside & setting it outside a friend's home...a friend who also happened to be the publisher of the Rapid City Journal.

*Mixing mealworms in a spaghetti dinner or dropping tadpoles in his sister's fresh-squeezed lemonade. (She never forgave him for ruining her hard work.)

*Dropping frozen rattlesnakes in the snow in a Colorado park for the alarm it would cause when the snow melted.

*Draping a dead 20-foot python in a tree in a Tucson, Arizona park.

*Switching the keys on a friend's typewriter.

*Covering all the windows of his gift shop manager's house with tarpaper during the night so it stayed dark in the house, then chewing him out for being late to work the next morning.

...and many many more

Earl was, in turn, the victim at times as well. Four friends, who had been on the receiving end of many of Earl's jokes, were determined to get him back. Just before first light one morning in the early 1950's they trucked a three-ton limestone boulder to Earl's newly constructed home on Jackson Blvd.

The original plan had been to drop the rock square in the center of the driveway while the concrete was still wet so it would sink in and not only block entrance to the garage but also necessitate tearing out the entire driveway.

The men's wives absolutely would not allow a joke they considered too mean so the rock was dumped in the driveway after the concrete had cured. And it did prevent Earl from getting to work on time that morning. The rock stayed in the yard next to the driveway until the house, later a golf course clubhouse, was demolished in 2002. It was brought to Reptile Gardens at that time and can be seen on here on the grounds.

Gift Shop Manager, Joe Maierhauser Sr (left) and artist Lee Logan put in place the finishing touch - a commemorative sign.



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