Some children have dreams of having exotic pets like amphibians, bears, hares, lions, etc. but these remain just dreams. Most parents would hardly allow any of their kids to get so close to the animals or have them as pets. However one boy did live his dream and Joseph Scherschels photography of 1955 still tells this story to date.
Charles Edward Hipp was born in 1904 and in 4 years time both his parents were dead. He moved in with his grandparents and later with friends. Six years into schooling, the 12 year old ran away to join a circus. Years of working with the circus led to his attachment to strange animals.
After some time with the circus, Hipp was lured into another lucrative business; oil drilling. He worked as a cable driller for some time till he got married and moved to Texas in the year 1934. Four years later in Graham, he started an oil well service company as the best cable driller in the industry.
Money was good in the oil business but Hipp had always loved the show business. He began putting up Rodeos in Graham and other Texas parts in 1950. His rodeos gained fame and traveled to many places including Madison Square Garden for performances.
Hipp adopted a lion named Blondie in 1955 from the Dallas zoo. He was a docile 12 week old cub who soon became a cherished family member. They traveled with him in their station Wagon, went boating on Possum Kingdom Lake and even shared a bathtub. By the time Joseph Scherschels posted a life article on him on the Life Magazine, Blondie had become a familiar sight in Graham.
Blondie was trouble free but another of Hipps pets was not. Randy the leopard mauled two and a half old Hipps grandson in 1962. The boy recovered from the injuries but the scars remained. This devastated Hipp who sold off the leopard and most of his other collection. He was too attached to Blondie to sell her and she lived with the family till she died of old age in 1968. Hipp lived until 1984, four years after staging his last Rodeo.