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His Soft Voice

Posted by Bunny Chafowitz · October 29th, 2004 · 1 Comment

“His voice got soft when he talked to you.”

That’s what my stepmother told me after my father died. She said she could always tell when my father was talking to me on the phone — his voice would get soft in a tone he used with no others and she knew it was me on the other end of line. He was remembering the good times we had spent together when I was a young girl.

I am my father’s only daughter and the youngest of his four children. There was a special place in his heart for me that was reserved for daddy’s little girl. I loved to spend time with him.

The best times we had were spent at the zoo. Back then it was called the Fresno Zoo. He worked there and I would get to spend time with him and watch him as he helped the animals.

Dad had an uncanny Dr. Doolittle kind of rapport with the animals. I remember one tiger would come up to the front of its enclosure so my father could scratch him between the ears. One of the silverback gorillas that he brought home as a baby — the zoo didn’t have a good nursery at the time — seemed to remember him years later.

I learned many things from my time spent at the zoo. I learned many things from my father, Paul “Doc” Chaffee. One admonition I remember vividly rings true today. He said, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Dad was trying to teach me if we don’t take care of the animals and their habitats now, they will soon disappear and humankind will be very much diminished as a result. The zoo was integral to my education about how all of us, humans, animals, and the Earth are interconnected. The zoo is still a vital, ever-changing learning tool for our children — over 100,000 kids a year take school field trips to the zoo.

Today the Chaffee Zoo is at risk. You’ve read it in the papers, heard it on the radio, and seen all the cute elephant signs in many front yards. Many people have already made up their minds which way to vote on Measure Z.

But for those of you who have yet to decide on whether to vote yes or no on this measure, I ask you this — how will you really feel, deep down inside, if the zoo is no longer here?

Will your voice get all soft when you talk to your kids, grandkids, family and friends about good times spent at the zoo? Or will your voice crack with regret because it is no longer here for all to enjoy? Will you think, “Gosh, we really didn’t know what we had . . . and now it is gone.”

Categories: Fresno-Clovis


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 nick meyer // Nov 3, 2004 at 4:08 pm

    Wow. Your emotions really jump out of the words you write. You really need to write more. Your love for your Dad really shows and is very evident in this great entry.

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