By Allyson Dix and Mary Beth Sallee
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
In 1972, Noma Page and her soon to be two-year-old daughter, Angela, were attending the Glasgow Christmas Parade when young Angela saw something she just had to have: a giant mouse on the Watson’s Store float.
“She had a fit over that mouse,” James Page said of his daughter. “I wasn’t there, but my wife later on saw it displayed at Watson’s (where the Chinese restaurant is at now). It was hanging from the ceiling, and she asked them what they would take for it. They said, ‘Well, we don’t know. It’s just a display.’ I can’t remember now what she paid for it, but she said, ‘Well, I got this much in my pocket. Will you take that?’ So they hauled it down and gave it to her.”
Twenty-five dollars later, the Mouse was officially adopted into the Page family.
Daughter Jennifer Page Ballard had never seen the Mouse until the mid-1980s when it was pulled from storage for another parade.
“I had never laid eyes on that mouse until my mom and my sister pulled it out of storage for the Cave City Christmas parade, I think around 1985 or 86,” Jennifer said. “Everyone loved it so much that mom decided she was going to put it on the front porch and let everyone enjoy it throughout the Christmas season.”
The entire community of Cave City and beyond looks forward to seeing the Mouse sitting on the Page family porch each year.
“Everybody knows him around here. They start in October asking if the mouse is coming out this year,” James said. “…When 31-W was just a big wide highway, didn’t have this turning lane out here in it…people could stop along the side of the road and still have room for the folks that drive. Well, they would stop out front. We’ve had people come up and their kids want to take pictures with that mouse. Some of the grown ups do, too.”
“One year, there was a car stopped out front, and they asked about the mouse, and we gave them a little bit of story about it,” James continued. “They said, ‘Well, we’re from Florida. We go up north and visit our kids this time every year. Last year, we decided to come back down 31 because it’s more scenic than the interstate, and we saw that mouse last year. We came back this way just to stop and see that mouse.’ Oh, I tell ya, it’s a treat for me for people to stop and want to take their picture with that old mouse.”
Standing around 8-feet tall, the Mouse is quite heavy and can be difficult to move, especially for the now 84-year-old James.
“I would say that the kids would probably not let me not put him out,” James said. “I’ve told them a time or two I’m getting on up in years now…I still work quite a bit with the food pantry here (in town), but it’s hard for me to lift a lot of heavy stuff, and I can’t lift him (the Mouse). So every year I say, ‘I don’t know if I’ll try to get that mouse out or not.’ They say, ‘We’ll get over there. We’ll get it out.’”
Throughout the years, the Mouse itself has undergone a few minor repairs and changes.
“That mouse is pretty old. You can tell it,” James said. “…He hasn’t undergone a lot of changes, but we’ve changed his attire a time or two. Some pictures you may see with him a flat nose. That means the stuffing came out, and we had to re-stuff it.”
Through Jennifer’s research a few years ago, she found that the Mouse was manufactured by Animal Fair, Inc. in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The company is now a defunct toy company but was quite popular in its heyday.
Despite her search for more information, Jennifer said she has been unable to find where the company produced any giant stuffed animals like the Mouse, although there is a miniature version of it.
But no matter the Mouse’s manufacturing origin, it’s true journey began with the Page family 51 years ago. And even though part of that journey has included sadness as both Noma and Angela have since passed away, the tradition lives on and serves as a reminder of the wonderful holiday memories.
“We’ll keep the tradition going as long as my dad still lives in that house,” Jennifer said.
“It means a whole lot to carry that tradition on,” added James. “…It is really a joy to me that people enjoy that mouse. He’s brought my kids a lot of joy over the years and some kids that had their picture made. I don’t know. It just makes me feel good when people ask if that mouse is out or not…It’s been a joy. It really has.”