Today in 1992, a book called “Tiger’s New Friends” is published, which I’ve been told is the first picture book featuring a sock monkey.
I mention only because it gives me an opportunity to tell the story of the first sock monkey, and its birthplace, Rockford, Illinois.
Today, Rockford’s claims to fame include the band Cheap Trick, and the Rockford Peaches from the movie A League of Their Own.
More than a century ago, the city was known for its sock factories.
The socks from Rockford producers were known for their particular color combinations, brown with some tan sections.
A few manufacturers went even further to stand out, adding a red heel to the brown and tan socks.
These Rockford Socks, as they were called, were a hit, and not just for wearing.
For years, people have reused socks to make dolls either to be crafty or if they couldn’t afford the dolls that toy shops were selling.
Rockford area DIYers figured out that they could turn the brown, tan and red socks into little toy monkeys really easily.
Meanwhile, a group of nuns in Wisconsin made sock monkeys out of the Rockford socks to sell for charity.
Knitting companies convinced manufacturers to sell their socks with a set of instructions on how to make a sock monkey.
And, as so often happens when a lot of people have roughly the same bright idea around the same time, there were lawsuits in the 1950s over who created the sock monkey and who had the right to sell it.
Fortunately the sock lawsuits were eventually ironed out, and over time people recognized the capital city of the worldwide sock monkey community as Rockford, or as it’s sometimes called, Sockford.
The Midway Village Museum in Rockford has organized a lot of sock monkey related happenings.
They’ve encouraged people who have sock monkeys in need of repair to bring them into “Sockford General Hospital.”
They’ve had artists decorate 6 foot tall fiberglass monkeys that went on display all over the city.
And each March, they host a celebration of the sock monkey and its place in Rockford history, known as the Sock Monkey Madness Festival.
Today in 1929, the UK newspaper known as The Sphere published an eye-catching photo.
A stretch of extremely hot weather in London had caused several mannequins in a department store window to start melting.
Your move, Madame Tussaud.
Monkey shines in Rockford (Illinois Times)
MELTING MANNEQUINS (Nag on the Lake)
Photo by Amy via Flickr/Creative Commons