During April to June 1939, William and Lucile Mann visited Brazil and Argentina to collect live animals for Smithsonian Institution's National Zoological Park. The diary, written by Lucile, is arranged by date and details their travels and interactions during their journey. Lucile writes about daily events with wit and candor, but one entry in particular (May 27th) seems to capture what would truly demonstrate the Christmas spirit to the Director of a National Zoo.
May 27 - En route Patagonia page 28
Last night on the train Bill [William Mann] insisted on picking up the most formidable uniformed gentleman that any of us had seen. The Shippens warned him against doing so, and Mr. Newbery, who is traveling with us, said he would get the snub of his life.
"Leave him alone," said I, out of twelve years of experience. "They'll probably be bosom friends, we'll exchange Christmas cards for years, and doubtless he'll even get us some ostriches."
The man, a big mustachioed Argentine, turned out to be - not a general, but a police inspector, and sure enough he knew someone in Patagonas who had some ostriches. When we reached the town, he and Bill parted, with hearty handclasps, only after the officer had sent a telegraph to his friend, and assured us that the ostriches (really rheas) would be there for us on the return journey. [SIA RU007293, Box 7 Folder 3]
Curious to read more? Check out the full transcript of the field book available at: http://edan.si.edu/transcription/pdf_files/7866.pdf
Happy holidays to you and may all your holiday wishes come true!