On the corners of State Road 54 and Northwest Sixth Street in Linton was a miniature golf course, known as At the Crossing, and was owned by Donald and Agnes Miller of Linton. Mrs. Miller is a retired English teacher from the Metropolitan School District of Shakamak. A few years before she retired in the 1990s, she and her husband, Donald Miller, had friends in Florida, who were originally from Brazil, Indiana, tell them that they knew a man who was closing his business and had batting cages that were for sale. The Millers had always been fond of playing racket ball, so they discussed the idea and decided to purchase them to use for batting practices and open their own business in Linton.
Not long after the Millers had opened the batting cages, Chester W. Booker of Dugger was closing his miniature golf course, Safari Golf, and was selling all of his equipment. The Millers decided that a miniature golf course would go great with their batting cages. Booker had purchased the giraffe and the other animals in Rocky Mount., North Carolina, located just east of Raleigh on US Highway 64.
Although there was no set theme for the miniature golf course, it did have numerous animals all made from fiberglass. One of the animals was a life-size giraffe, which was at least seventeen feet in height. When it comes to the weight of the giraffe, it does not weigh 1700-2400 pounds like an actual giraffe. Its actual weight is somewhere around 200-250 pounds. As for the other animals on the course, there was an elephant, two zebras, an alligator, a few six-foot flamingos, and a tiger’s head that was mounted on an empty oil drum. The animals, with the exception of the giraffe, can now be found well attended to in a storage barn.
The Millers had no idea that the giraffe would some day become a well-known landmark of the area. One day Mrs. Miller had decided that she did not retire from teaching to operate another business, so she and her husband closed At the Crossing. When putting away the animals, her son came to her and told her that his son really enjoyed the giraffe and would she consider leaving the giraffe on display. Her son eventually persuaded her that she should leave the giraffe where it had always been.
Some of the people who would pass by the giraffe, from out of town, assumed that the miniature golf course would never reopen. There were also some that had passed by for years and thought that the giraffe had been abandoned and just left behind. This was the reasoning of a couple of young men from Sullivan County who decided that they would take it for a carnival they were starting and that nobody would miss the giraffe. To a point they were right. There were many who were so accustomed to the giraffe always being on the corner of State Road 54 and Northwest Sixth Street that they did not notice the giraffe had disappeared. However, there were also some people who did notice the giraffe was gone. One group of people who noticed that the giraffe was missing from its home on the corner was the Linton Police Department.
The first police officer to reach the Miller’s residence was Officer Debbie McDonald, when the giraffe was first reported missing: Her thoughts were “How could somebody be able to get a seventeen-foot tall giraffe out of town without being noticed.” Linton Police thought that since the giraffe was so large that it would be rather easy to find. With the help of Crime Stoppers offering a reward for any information, their thoughts were right. They received a tip and found the giraffe between Shelburn and Hymera on State Road 48.
The men who had stolen the giraffe cooperated with Linton Police and returned him to his home. The Millers were glad that the giraffe had been returned. Mrs. Miller told the men that took the giraffe that she did not like that they had taken the giraffe and should ask around before they do anything else.
Mrs. Miller said that the giraffe was glad to be home. She also said that the giraffe like being in Linton and watching people drive by on the highway. The only thing that he does not like, besides being stolen, is to have rocks and trash thrown at him.
The Linton Giraffe
Telephone interview with Chester W. Booker on Monday, April 13, 2007, in Linton, Indiana.
McCann, Andrea. “Giraffe finds its way home,” The Daily World. February 8, 2006.
McCann, Andrea. “Linton Landmark Missing,” The Daily World. February 7, 2006.
Personal interview with Debbie McDonald on Monday, April 16, 2007, in Linton, Indiana.
Telephone interview with Agnes Miller on Monday, April 12, 2007, in Linton, Indiana.