I remember the Zoo very fondly. I used to walk through the grounds several times a week en route to the YMCA. I use to walk there from my home on Goodwin Avenue in Westerleigh. Occasionally, I would stop in to see mr. Lion or look at the wonderful reptile collection.
When I was in the 8th grade at PS30, my shop teacher Mr. Kacsur used to involve me in some of his family outings cave exploring and hiking. His daughter Katie and I became good friends.
As a mutual project Katie and I started breeding mice for interesting coat colors. We got pretty good at it and soon had more mice than anyone would ever want so we decided to incorporate. We drew up papers "incorporating" ourselves as "International Mouse." Our special stationary had my drawing of a mouse as logo and we "elected" our favorite tan and agouti mouse, Miss Doolittle, as Chairman of the Board.
We sold all our "extras" to the Staten Island Zoo who used them to feed the reptiles. International Mouse thrived wonderfully until the Staten Island Expressway, right of way, condemned the land Mr. Kacsur's house was on and they had to move.
I still look back on that remarkable experience and recall how lucky I was to have been able to know people like the Kacsur's who came to Staten Island as WWII refugees looking for a new life free of the cares inflicted on them by Adolf Hitler.
In his home of origin (I believe it was either Hungary or Czechoslovakia) Mr. Kacsur was an artisan who made Jewelry and sculpture for a living. The values he brought to his job as a shop teacher at PS30 far exceeded what the NY City Board of Education required or paid him for. However he freely gave us fine skills and values as as a gift because we had become the humanity he lost because of prejudice and oppression in Europe.
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