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I recently came across some correspondence from an old high school friend who asked me if I remembered the gorilla who lived in a house in the Montrose area. I told him that I vaguely remembered that he was almost like a child to the couple who owned him. The following is a brief summary of our recollection...

He said he remembered a gorilla that a family raised somewhere near the Montrose-Richmond area of Houston in the 50's-60's time-frame. His name was Hugo. I didn't remember his name, but I remembered the gorilla he was talking about. He said he'd read stories in the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Post about Hugo. Hugo grew into adulthood while living with his human family in their house in a caged-off bedroom. There were times during the day when Hugo had the run of the house. The owner would take the grown-up Hugo for a ride in his car for a treat like we might take our pet dog for an outing. One of the streets where one might have seen Hugo riding in the car was Montrose, or you might have seen him on any of the neighborhood streets in that area. His dad said he saw Hugo several times sitting in the passenger seat with his arm out of the passenger window with his hand resting on the top of the car. His arm was so long it reached a little over half the width of the roof. After a number of years, some neighbors got upset with Hugo living in the neighborhood. It was against the law, as well as dangerous, and the court's decision was to not let them care for Hugo in their home any longer.

I didn't remember exactly what happened to Hugo, but he thought he got sick and died after they moved him out of his home. He said he thought Leon Hale was the one that wrote the stories he had read about Hugo, but Leon answered his e-mail and said he didn't remember ever writing about a gorilla in Houston.

He did some research and found an article that was in the Chronicle about Hugo and sent it to me. It is fairly long, so I've converted it to an Adobe file, which I hope you are able to open. Some of the details, as we remembered them, are a little different from the Chronicle story.


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  • 2 weeks later...
My mother lived in the garage apartment when Hugo was in residence. She remembers him.

How odd that anyone else knows about him. I thought she was the sole keeper of this odd reality.

I remember reading about him in the paper in the early sixties, when I was a child--I guess at that time, he was a child too. His owners' last name was Greer. I, too, lived near Mandell and Richmond (but enough blocks north of Richmond that I never saw the gorilla or knew exactly which house he lived in). I did, however, fantasize a lot about him, even to the point of looking in the phone book until I found the only Greer family on Mandell and thinking that one of these days I really would venture over there to sell Girl Scout cookies and hope for a glimpse of the gorilla. But I never did it.

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I remember Hugo well! The house was brick near the corner of Castle Court & Mandell; now the site of townhouses. When my sister & I didn't clean up our rooms, Mom would say, "Well, since you want to live like animals, maybe you'd rather go live with Hugo the gorilla!", which led to our affectionate childhood nicknames of Big Ape and Little Ape for one another. ^_^

The owner would take the grown-up Hugo for a ride in his car for a treat like we might take our pet dog for an outing.

Oh, boy - finally got a chance to throughly peruse this thread. Don't know what to say about this - in my 15+ years on Castle Court, I saw many an odd sight, but Hugo the gorilla flaming through the hood riding shotgun was not one of them. :lol: I'm wondering if someone went to Frankel's Costumes and had a little fun.

Edited by Native Montrosian
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