Rest in Peace, Old Rip

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Final Resting Place

Have you ever thought about attending the Ripfest festival in Eastland, Texas? It is held each year in celebration of Old Rip. The story goes like this. The town’s courthouse was built in 1897. Thirty-one years later, Old Rip was found in the corner of the building. In 1928 the town’s “time capsule,” placed in the corner when the building was constructed, was opened. 

Will Wood Places Old Rip In Capsule

The legend goes that a four-year-old boy, Will Wood, captured a toad named Blinky. He placed the toad in the capsule to test his dad’s theory. His father had told him that horned toads can hibernate for 100 years. Young Wood was assured that Blinky, a.k.a. Old Rip would be alive when the capsule was opened.

New Courthouse

Thirty-one years later, when the town decided to build a larger courthouse, the lizard was discovered. It was covered in dust. Initially, it appeared the toad was dead, but suddenly, it started to move. Apparently, all of the locals insisted, and still do, that the story is true. No one realized that a creature could not survive for more than 30 years without food, water, or air. Lizards indeed hibernate during the winter. Even so, their life expectancy is only five to eight years.

How Old Rip Got His Name

Blinky was given the name of Old Rip once he was discovered. This was in honor of Rip Van Winkle, a character from a Washington Irving story who fell asleep for 20 years. The character then once again woke up. The toad later became famous after the amazing “story” was told. This resulted in Wood to take Old Rip on a tour of the United States. The lizard lived in a goldfish bowl and was fed a diet of red ants. He was so famous that he met President Calvin Coolidge in Washington, D.C. Many gas stations honored Old Rip by giving toads to their customers.

His Final Chapter

Less than a year after the toad hopped back to life, he died from pneumonia. The residents of the town decided to embalm the toad instead of burying him. They put the lifeless body in an open coffin that had a velvet interior. He was then placed in the lobby inside the courthouse.

You be the judge, fact, or fiction?