Turtles: A Shell of a Story

Turtle shells 09-23-2015These guys must have come out of the bowels of the attic or they might have been set aside for making rattles. All I know is that there was usually a turtle or two around through most of my childhood.

When I started school, Dad and Mother sold the trailer we used to follow Dad from job site to job site and rented a house at 2531 Bloomfield Road. (It’s not there anymore). The house was surrounded by fields and had a swing-up garage door that never closed too tightly, hence the house frequently hosted mice and bugs. Traps kept the former at bay, and we let a couple of turtles roam the basement for the latter.

When we moved in, there was a washing machine in the basement. Not too much later, the landlord confiscated the washer and left behind an old fashioned ringer washer for Mother. “I cried so much that your dad went out and bought me a new washing machine,” she said a few months back.

The water from a shower Dad rigged up and the wash water drained into a floor drain, something that worked adequately until one day when it started backing up. Finally, the landlord had to call a plumber. He wasn’t happy to find out that the clog was caused by an errant turtle who had fallen into the uncovered hole. After that, a No Turtle Rule was instituted.

Then, there was Sam and Ella

Pet turtleNo pet store or county fair would have been complete without a chance to buy or win one of these small turtles. We didn’t think about the dangers of salmonella back then.

I even had a painted turtle that came from either our Florida trip or the fair.

Bring on the wild art

Turtle and Dog 1966I always hated it when an editor would say, “Bring me back some wild art.” That meant is was a slow news day and they needed a feature photo that could run CLO (Cutlines Only). I was lousy at shooting those kinds of pictures.

If I had to, though, I’d throw good taste, scruples and pride aside and bring back a cringe-worthy photo like this.

7 Replies to “Turtles: A Shell of a Story”

  1. I had a little turtles too, I forgot what they were called in those days. I think most of us in Cape had them…you even could get a small glass plate like container with sides and build up center section that was high on one side a lower on the other. This allowed the turtle to have water on one side to swim in and a high side to lay around. I do remember you could get these at Sunnyhill Feed and Seed and other places too. I guess these are long gone like the turtles that once served…sniff.
    The last shot with DOG and TURTLE…one of your best IMHO…

    1. The colored, outer part of the tortoise’s shell is like the bark on a tree, the underlying portion of the shell is not colored like the outer layer, but white when dried out.

      1. I remember “Paint Turtles” for sale in the dime store that had little colored flowers or Chinese symbols painted on their backs; had no idea their shells actually dried out causing the white discoloration. We aging dogs CAN learn new tricks! Thank you, Keith.

  2. This reminds me that when I use the term “like turtles in a pet shop” my kids haven’t the foggiest of that to which I refer. I still stop on the road to help one across. Can’t bear the thought of what might happen.

  3. I also remember having a tiny turtle with a colored shell when I was a little girl. Suppose it came from the dime store,don’t recall !

  4. My sister lives in southern CA and keeps desert tortoises. She has done this for many years. Some have died and others survived. She takes beautiful care of them with providing a special area covered with straw and a dog house for shade and she prepares lovely salads for them each morning. Although most might think watching turtles sounds boring, I actually love watching her tortoises. They are quite friendly and seem as though they try to communicate with their human family. I spent several weeks with my sister last summer, while she recovered from surgery. I was in charge of tortoise care and totally enjoyed the experience. When I delivered their morning salads, they would come “running” with enthusiasm. Such a cute sight. I took many photos and a few videos of the critters.

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