Fond memories of Chester

Every once in a while, I see an unusual sight, while attending one of the many garage sales during the past 25 years of my retirement. A young lady was sitting outside holding what at first seemed to me to be a bunny rabbit. It turned out to be a surprise, since I had never seen such a creature before. She told me it was her pet “Chester the Chinchilla.”

Chester had relocated to Youngstown, Ohio, from South America. He stared at me with a wary eye, and I thought he was beautiful. She urged me to touch his extremely soft fur. I was apprehensive at first, then when I touched it, it felt unbelievable, silky, velvety. It brought back memories of the good old days.

Fur coats

Celebrities such as movie stars, both men and women, wore full-length chinchilla fur coats. I had only seen photos of such a coat. My favorite motto in my old age is, “You are never too smart or too old to learn.”

Digging deeper into this saga of the chinchilla, I find they are bred extensively for their fur. On average 150 pelts are required to make a full length coat. The coats range in cost from $6,000 to $25,000. It’s not a poor person’s coat.

Checking the Internet for more information, the pelt is very soft because about 60 hairs sprout from each follicle. These coats would probably be comparable to mink coats, which I had never seen.

The only fur coats I remember my immediate family owning, were my wife, Margaret, had a mouton lamb fur coat, and my sister, Mary, owned a Muskrat fur coat. They must have been affordable over half a century ago to a family of modest means.

I hope my friend “Chester the Chinchilla” never ends up on a fur coat. As a coincidence, my best friend in my graduating East High School Class of June 1942 was named Chester.

Michael J. Lacivita is a Youngstown retiree and member of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

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