|Alligator Photo in Jefferson History Museum ©MM Sikes|
Over the years, people who had brought alligators home from Florida to keep as pets found that they were taking up too much space in their bathtubs, so they would bring the reptiles to join those already at the hotel. Some were left in containers on counters; others were deposited at doors.
Stories have it that bellmen would sweep alligators from the furniture upon their arrival in early morning. The exotic creatures became part of the hotel lore. One tale has it that an alligator once wandered into the hotel library and was mistaken for a footstool by a guest.
Old Pompey, the last of the resident alligators, died in 1948. Today, a bronze statue by an entrance
|"Old Pompey" at the Jefferson ©Mary Montague Sikes|
Anyone who wants more alligators can also visit the Gators Gift Shop on the lower level of the hotel. You won't find live alligators there, but the stuffed toy variety might be more appealing anyway.
In my new book, An Artful Animal Alphabet, Old Pompey is part of the story that I think children will enjoy. My fascination with the Jefferson alligators continues.