A Boy from Kalamazoo
Larry often joked he was born in a zoo . . . Kalamazoo, Michigan that is. He was born on July 31, 1919. Larry's father was a contractor who remodeled businesses and homes. His mother, a school teacher, stayed at home to rear Larry and his younger brother Rique.
While other boys were killing snakes, Larry was fascinated by them and soon began collecting and caring for a variety of local snakes. Even though this was during the Great Depression, his parents were extremely supportive and his father used his carpentry skills to create homes for the reptiles. The backyard soon became an attraction worthy of the two cent admission charge.
Larry’s childhood interest in reptiles continued to flourish into his later teens. He began trading with other collectors around the United States. To share his growing wonder of the animal kingdom with others, he rented a building on Lovers Lane in Milham Park and opened his reptilium to the public in 1935 while he was still in high school.
But first, Larry needed to move to New York City.
Top Image on Page: The reptilium in Kalamazoo that Larry opened up in 1935 during the Great Depression while he was in high school. Above: Larry (right) with brother Rique (left) and friend with snakes.
Larry shaking hands with Frank "Bring 'em Back Alive" Buck.