Posted by: Staff | 05.05.2008

The Mysteries of Beaver: The History of Baba and Coco


It may not really be the sort of mystery you’re used to, since you’ve probably never heard of it or even seen any hint of it. But sixty years ago, the Beaver campus, in addition to students, had a small collection of animals! A storybook written by the fourth grade class (oh yeah, they also had an elementary school) in 1940 tells the tale of two of these animals: Baba the lamb and Coco the goat. Rescued from the archives, read the full story (with pictures!) after the break.


Story by
Joan Adie
Dotty Beckwith
Isabel Closson
Nancy Eaton
Patsy Fahnestock
Barbara Hicks
Anne Hopkins
Edie Howes
Teedy LaCroix
Joan Olmsted
Isabelle Paine
Pegsy Tyler
Judy Wyatt
Nancy Fay Williams

Photographs by
Pegsy Tyler
Miss Lincoln
Miss Lundstedt
Miss Torrey
Dr. Williams

Manuscript Writing by
Miss Lincoln

Miss Voorhees
who loves animals,
these two,
this book is dedicated.



MAY 1940

This is a book about two unusual animals. You may have heard of Mary’s little lamb who went to school, but did you ever hear of a goat and a lamb who went to school together? That is what Baba and Coco have done. Many times this year we have heard their feet come tap-tapping down the hall and into the classrooms. They have even been in plays.They are great friends although they are very different. Baba is calm and patient. He has quiet manners. Coco is just the opposite. He is frisky and mischievous and is likely to set a bad example for Baba. He is a smart little goat and he knows it very well too. He cannot bear to be last. He has even grabbed the first page in this book, even though it is mostly about Baba.

This is Coco. He looks like an ordinary goat, but he isn’t. Once he went down the slide you see in the picture. When you run, he comes jumping after you. He has a tiny tail and when you spank him, he wags it

Here is Baba, our lamb. His wool was three inches thick, so Mr. Crory sheared him. But you will hear about the shearing somewhere else in the book. This is when he was not sheared. He is visiting the rabbits. Don’t you think his wool looks thick?

Coco is feeling lively today. He knows it is meal-time and he is eager to get breakfast. We shut the log cabin door when we get his food so he won’t gobble it all up. He gets very impatient when he is waiting and jumps up on the door. But the door is locked and he can’t get in this time.

Baba knows we are putting his food in his pan inside the log cabin. He is trying to get the door open to get in to his food. But he isn’t as frisky as Coco is. He waits patiently and does not jump for his breakfast. There is a pail of water outside the door, but Baba is not interested. He says, “Breakfast comes first.”

Baba and Coco are eating their meal of grain. If you were to push Coco on his forehead he would make a funny little noise to show you that he did not wish to be disturbed during meal time. When Coco, the fast eater, finishes his meal he goes to Baba, the slow eater, and finishes eating out of Baba’s dish.

This is the day that everybody has been waiting for, and that is to see Baba being sheared. Mr. Crory is shearing him. His legs are tied together so he will not kick. The children are watching from outside the fence. If you touch Baba’s wool, it is very oily. It is yellow inside. Baba is being very good.

How would you like to help shear Baba? That is what we are doing in this picture. Everybody is going to have a turn. Nowadays our wool clothes are made in factories. Children do not often get the chance to cut the wool off the lamb and go through the whole process of making something useful out of it.

Coco was taken out for a little walk so that he wouldn’t make Baba excited while he was being sheared. In this picture he has just come back and is wishing that Baba would come and play with him. Poor Baba is having a bad time of it, but he is almost finished.

Now the shearing is over and Baba is feeling a little embarrassed without his coat. He does not know what is going to happen to it.

If you could have seen Baba’s wool when it was first cut off! It was dirty and greasy and full of straws and sticks. So we washed it and dried it and picked it over till it was clean. Then one sunny day we went out-of-doors and dyed it blue and red and yellow. Some of it we left white.

Before wool can be spun it has to be carded. The cards have little wires that comb the fibres so they all go one way. We are carding in this picture. Coco has come to see what it’s all about.

Spinning is the most fun, even though it is hard. You give the spindle a twirl and that twists the thread. Sometimes it breaks, but you must not be discouraged. A little practice will make you a good spinner.

At last we have begun weaving. Back and forth, back and forth go our shuttles. The gay colors are growing on our looms. The cloth will soon be done.

Coco is inviting Baba to spend the summer with him at camp and Baba has accepted his invitation. Do you think they will be glad to come back to school next fall? We hope they will be able to go into the fifth grade.

We want to say thank you to Madame Lannoye for helping us about spinning.
We also got ideas about spindles from
The Weaver’s Craft – Simpson

Thanks to Ms. Boylan for finding and scanning the storybook


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