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The Daughter, the Dog and the Blue Carpet

If my arithmetic is correct this summer will mark the 50th anniversary of the ’62 Seattle World’s Fair. June for sure marks the day our family had our day at the exposition.

Not merely a day, but a DAY. DAYS were for celebrities and heads of state and big name politicians and people of note. My daughter was a person of note, and but for our young black lab, Baron, she would not have been around and there would have been no day other perhaps, than a day of mourning.

Our son had been born a week before and I took our five year old girl camping on a sunny June day to Troublesome Creek campground above Index in the Cascades. She was an experienced camper but she and the dog disappeared around noon that Thursday.

I won’t go into the horror of the next three days, rainy ones, but on Saturday after the official search had been called off, a volunteer Boeing worker from Kent, Adam Kintop, father of seven, had not given up. Climbing a hill a dog growled at him, he called the dog’s name and brought the little girl down to the search staging area.

Kintop knew Baron’s name because by this time the story was all over local and national television, as well as newspapers across the country. Aside from dehydration she was OK. The dog never left her except once when she was sitting on a log, he found a blowdown with a cave-like roofed depression and barked until she came to him. She had a deep cut on one leg that he never stopped licking.

Jump ahead to the World’s Fair. The dog had already been given a medal by Lieutenant Governor Cherberg, other awards from outfits as disparate as animal organizations to Quaker Oats, who not only proclaimed Baron a National Dog Hero but made him eligible to be “Dog Hero of Heroes,” a title that if won, had a cash prize of a couple of thousand dollars and other goodies. Among these was a case of just-introduced Captain Crunch cereal, this, I assume was for us, not the dog.

So, with all this hoopla, we were approached for permission for the Century 21 committee to have a special day honoring my daughter, her dog and the man who found her. We all conferred and agreed to it, and on a sunny day we got to the fairground to find the Blue Carpet had been rolled out for us. Why Seattle chose Blue rather than Red carpet to honor dignitaries and celebrities, I don’t remember. But this wide, lengthy rug had been trodden by kings, queens, poojahs, pashas, actors, governors and lesser persons like politicians.

A corps of docents took my daughter and the seven Kintop kids for a free day of anything they wished at the fair; food, rides, exhibits and so forth. The Kintops, my wife and I had the same privileges, which included lunch at the Century 21 Club, a place where only the high and the mighty were allowed.

I will interject here to remember that we got to the fairground via the then new monorail, and were told by our overseer that Baron was only the second dog to ride on the train – the first had been Roy Rogers’ dog, Bullet. (Apparently his horse could not fit.)

Two things are crystal clear in my memory. We had a sumptuous lunch at the Century 21 Club. For the dog there was a round silver tray, at least 18 inches across, with concentric circles of ham, beef, cold cuts, lettuce, tomatoes, biscuits and flowers at the center. Being a Labrador retriever of course he snarfed the whole thing down.

The other vivid memory involved a smartass line my brother had used long before as part of a joke, and I got a chance to use it in real life. Baron was the first dog allowed to go up to the top of the Space Needle. As we stood there and looked around, a woman next to me haughtily asked me didn’t I know that dogs were not allowed. “That’s OK,” I responded, “He’s blind and I am his seeing-eye person.” That was my career as a stand-up comedian.

Before and after our wonderful day at the fair we got a lot of letters. Surprisingly only two of at least a hundred were crank letters, the rest all congratulatory. There were pounds of dog food, free haircuts for the little girl and her parents, A lifetime amnesty for the dog from the dog catcher in Mountlake Terrace, requests to have Baron fall in love with others’ bitches. We did accede to one of these.

All that was half a century ago. Our daughter has a huge scrapbook of the incident and its follow up celebrity. Baron took second place in the national dog Hero of Heroes competition, the honors rightfully going to a German shepherd who swam into Lake Erie and rescued a drowning boy.

When she was found she uttered words forever embedded in my memory. Asked by a group of over a dozen TV and print reporters if she was ever frightened, she replied, “No, not as long as Baron was with me.”


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