“The Company that Controls
John even appeared in a TV commercial dressed as a pest control technician riding an African elephant. Regarding his one and only acting role, John admitted that riding an elephant was scary, but it was a great publicity stunt.
Elephants had become a major marketing vehicle for Cook’s. At the grand opening, the Columbia Holiday Inn marquee proclaimed:
“In Person, March 2, Cook’s 100 Elephant Hunters.”
Maybe that message sparked a new scheme, or perhaps it prompted John to act on an idea that had been brewing for years in his imagination. Whatever the case, he determined to buy an elephant. He envisioned decorating the pachyderm with Cook’s banners and giving free rides at shopping centers.
“What?” Jo exclaimed, “You've got to be kidding!”
Years of acting as a sounding board for John’s ideas had not prepared her for this one. At first she thought he was joking. “How will we transport it, care for it, feed it, and handle it? And where will it live?”
“In the horse pasture behind our house,” John responded matter-of-factly. Jo understood what that meant: her life would revolve around feeding and caring for this advertising nightmare.
Always ready to counsel, but never to condemn, Jo gave her advice and then watched as John pursued an elephant with his customary dogged determination. A source in New York could get an Indian elephant for $3,000. It was smaller and therefore supposedly easier to handle and cheaper to feed than the African variety John had ridden on television.