LUBBOCK, Texas (KJTV) - It’s a bittersweet Memorial Day for one of our Lubbock veterans. While he’s remembering his fallen colleagues, he’s also preparing to open his own business.
Marine Curtis Pennington served from 1997 to 2001. He was disabled in Iraq and is mourning his brothers who didn’t make it home.
“This is a day to remember those guys and their families and just pray for them and strength for their families,” Pennington said.
“Going out to eat, spending time with our families. A lot of that wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for people like my dad protecting us,” Pennington’s daughter, Madison Pennington said.
After Covid-19 displaced Pennington and his daughter Madison, they moved to Lubbock to start over.
“Just a year ago, we came here with really nothing but the clothes on our back and the few small things that we had, and now my dad is all of a sudden opening up a business,” Madison said.
From living in his car, to joining a housing program with Vetstar, to opening his own reptile pet shop. Pennington saved up while working at Jimmy’s Egg, and started collecting and breeding exotic animals.
“I mean, Lubbock’s been awesome, between the customers that come into the restaurant supporting me, and you know, putting a little extra tip on there, just like hey, you know, we like to hear what you’re doing just keep doing it,” Pennington said.
While serving an old friend at the restaurant, Joe Menaldi, Pennington shared his dream. Menaldi, the owner of Head Hunter’s Smoke Shop, donated the space for the shop. His son Joey Menaldi, owner of AMP Electric, is powering it.
“I guess when they say you’re living your dream, it’s kind of like you’re living in a dream. You know, there’s moments when I feel like I’m sleepwalking and I have to pinch myself to still make sure I’m awake and it’s real,” Pennington said.
Pennington has loved reptiles since he was a kid and now gets to share that passion with Madison.
“I missed out on a lot of years with my daughter and so it’s basically a way for us to spend a lot of time together doing something that we both love,” Pennington said.
The grand opening for Curt’s Creatures will be July 4 at the shopping center near the entrance to Ransom Canyon. He has 60 animals available, ranging from blue iguanas, to red-eyed treefrogs and crocodile skinks. The store will also have live bait available for people on their way out to the lake.