Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Little Known Fact about the Squirrels of Ohio University

In the second quarter of my senior year at Ohio University in Athens I lived in an efficiency apartment downtown. My one room space was upstairs in the rear of the building next to an exit where rickety black metal stairs zig-zagged down to the alley.

One morning in early spring as I stepped out the door onto the landing I noticed a squirrel affixed to the wall about eight feet above my shoulder. He had a look of terror in his eyes. I attributed it to his situation, seemingly stuck on the wall and unsure what his next move should be. He was approximately three stories from the ground and I surmised that this would be a nasty fall should he leap and fail to reach the staircase.

Though he may have simply been spooked by my sudden appearance, my heart went out to the cute little critter. I decided to fetch a broom which I proceeded to hold out toward where he tightly gripped the bricks. Springing into action, he bounded down the broom handle, sharp claws startling my wrist as he leapt to the stairs and scrambled to a more sensible place to play.

This memory came to mind this weekend while I was doing research on the concerts I saw at Ohio University from 1970 to 1974. From one website I was able to download the History of Ohio University, which though incomplete on the matter of concerts did make for an interesting read. For example, I learned that squirrels were intentionally introduced to the campus in 1908. They were Ivy League squirrels, brought here from Harvard University. The OU Board of Trustees felt this wildlife would benefit the university.

I, for one, never knew our squirrels were imported. I do know that they were appreciated.

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Photo Credit: This one is actually a Minnesota squirrel, captured and shared by John Heino Photography. We cannot tell precisely what his alma mater is, but we're working on it.

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