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Odd Wisconsin Archive

The Giant Rat
of Fond du Lac

Back in 1879, a saloon-keeper in Fond du Lac exploited a customer's weakness in order to save him from bad habits.

According to the press, a prominent citizen of that city had been coming into the bar a bit too often for his own good. The owner of the tavern appreciated the patronage but thought that his friend ought to pay more attention to his business than his benders. So he executed a fantastic plan to curb his customer's over-indulgence.

A large rat had got into the habit of sneaking into the tavern in the afternoon to scrounge for crumbs left on the bar after lunch, and the good-natured owner had tolerated it. The next time that the businessman came in for a few drinks, the barkeep kept him there until the rat appeared.

Seeing the giant rodent on the bar, the man was naturally disturbed and called his host's attention to it. The bartender, however, protested that he didn't see anything at all. The businessman, alarmed that he was hallucinating about gigantic rats, hurried out and didn't touch another drop for a long time.

Or so it was told by Milwaukee journalist George Peck. But he was known for his comic tales and humorous exaggerations. In fact, Peck became so widely known for telling stories like this that his fame carried him all the way to Wisconsin's executive mansion. You can read more about Gov. Peck here.

:: Posted in Animals on October 14, 2010

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