Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Turtles and Stuff

When I was 4 years old, we had a box turtle who lived in a turkey roasting pan. He was our only pet, and he became quite used to us. Our mom taught us to be very gentle with the turtle. I remember he liked to have his head petted. Pet turtles aren't so common these days for a number of reasons. I remember Mom made us wash our hands after we held the turtle.

Back then though, no one batted an eye and turtles were common in pet stores. One day my older brother decided it might be fun to play with matches while we were playing on my bed. The turtle was on my bed with us. My brother actually did start my mattress on fire. Fortunately Mom checked on us before things got out of control. I remember her throwing a kettle of water on the fire and putting it out. No one was hurt, not even the turtle. (I did get a new mattress though!) I remember feeding raw hamburger meat to the turtle. I'm sure he had a name, but I don't remember what it was.

About the same time, I had a book called The Lonely Little Turtle, or maybe it was The Pokey Little Turtle. That was my favorite book for a couple of years, and the first one I wanted to read by myself after I learned to read with Dick and Jane. I wish I still had that book. It was a green (what other color would do?) hardcover book with what to my four-year-old eyes were beautiful illustrations. I've checked used book stores and I've searched the internet looking for a copy somewhere. It was about a boy turtle who was lonely and looking for a friend. He traveled all over, and made friends with a lot of animals in the forest. But even with all his new friends, he was still lonely. Then one day he meets a girl turtle. I remember she had long, curly eyelashes. The lonely turtle falls in love with the girl turtle, and he isn't lonely anymore.

When I saw these little turtles at Walgreens 2 for $3.00, they reminded me of our pet turtle and of my long-lost turtle book, and of happily ever after. Since I haven't been able to find the book, I decided the Walgreens turtles would do. I think the garden fairies like these turtles.


  1. So cute and nice to know more about you.~~Dee

  2. My kids had several pet turtles while growing up. They were the easiest of all their pets to take care of. I remember in particular my son's turtle Jake. He was a box turtle, I think--the kind you can't buy in a pet store anymore. When my son went off to basic training, his sisters and I took special care of Jake; it was one link to my son, who I missed so much. When my son came home from the Army he released Jake back into the wild. I hope he's still floating around some creek nearby.

    I just saw some very realistic plastic turtles at our local nursery--at $7.00 each. I almost bought one, but maybe I'll check out Walgreen's instead! (I hope you can find a copy of that book some day.)

  3. What a wonderful story, and I think I remember that book! I'll keep an eye out for a copy as I check out the used book store in town frequently. Your turtles look very much at home. :)

  4. My grandmother always had a box turtle in her house! There may have been a new one every year but we never knew. We called him Oscar! He was wonderful.

    BTW, the TED talk on the mushroom was wonderful, I had read about Paul before but this presentation knocked my socks off!


  5. A sweet story! Why is it we never see turtles anymore? Is it the environment thing again?

  6. Your post reminds me of when I was a kid & my brother would catch turtles in the creek & bring them home to play with. Our mom wouldn't let us bring it in the house or keep one, but it was fun until it was time to return the turtle to the creek. I think fairies like most turtles, but not snapping turtles.

  7. Dee, thanks! It's fun to remember those little things that were part of growing up.

    Rose, I hope Jake made it in the wild. I don't remember what became of our turtle. I'll have to ask my mom about that.

    I got those little turtles late in the winter when Walgreens first put up their little garden display. They had some cute ceramic figurines, and all were very inexpensive. I still keep my eye out for the book. It would help alot if I could remember the exact title and/or the author. My mom doesn't remember it either.

    Nancy, Thank you. I'd still love to find that book. I've looked for it off and on for about 20 or so years. I started looking for it around the same time I looked for a Chatty Cathy doll. I found the doll in no time, but never located the book. I'm not usually 'into' cute or whimsical, but I couldn't resist my cheap turtles!

    Gail, I think they made good pets for older people, because they're so easy to care for. Of course, I'm sure turtles are much happier in their natural habitats. I remember wondering if our turtle was scared he might get cooked, since his home was a roasting pan.

    I'm glad you enjoyed that program. I thought you would after reading your mushroom post. I thought the subject matter and the presentation were fascinating.

    Brenda, I think it's partly the environmental thing, and partly the salmonella thing, since turtles often carry salmonella.

    MMD, I'm glad the story brought back some fond memories of your own! Brothers and reptiles seem to go together.

    It might be that my brother brought that turtle home. I don't remember how we got it, I just remember we had it. My brothers were always bringing home assorted reptiles and amphibians.

  8. Garden girl this post reminds me of the pet turtle I had for my children some 30 years ago..and I too said wash your hands after handling! We fed ~Butch the turtle~ minced up shrimp from a toothpick...he became ill eventually passed away(not from the shrimp)...oh the crying that went on and now one of those children I have post about today! Thanks for taking me down my own memory lane! hugs NG

  9. Naturegirl, I'm happy to stir up your own memories!

    Congratulations on the birth of your precious new grandson. What a joyous time for your family!

  10. I loved to play with box turtles when I was little. Since it's illegal to sell them in the stores in Nashville, my parents always drive down the road after the rain and see if they can spot any. They are really interested in finding a few turtles to raise. :-)

  11. That is a really cute story. Did you check on ebay and amazon for your book? I had a favorite childhood book and I found it on ebay one time. I had to buy it and read it again...how fun. The two turtles look very happy there in your garden(-: I hope you will find your book someday soon!

  12. DP, they are such gentle, docile creatures.

    Cindee, I've burned up the internet several times looking for the book, and even trying to find more information about it. I suspect I have the title wrong, and I don't know the author. My mom can't remember either. The book probably isn't easy to find, but it's even more difficult without that basic information.

  13. We have turtles galore in our yard!

    A year ago I was a Foster Mom to a desert turtle that I rescued from a sad situation. The turtle was in VA with my sister in law. We went to VA for Easter and picked turtle up and brought her back to GA for a month of Fostering. We found her a home in Nashville, TN and dropped her off on the way to a family visit in Clarksville, TN. She is now a happy turtle!

    A neighbors child (many years ago) had a small turtle and we felt sorry for it as their cat would always get Betty Boops out of her cage and bat her around until lost. They would find her usually in the closet after being batted under the door! We now call all turtles Betty Boops from that memory...

  14. Linda, Your Grandmother gave us that turtle. We had a couple of box turtles when we were young, too. I don't remember its name, either. After a while, it didn't seem like it was thriving the way it should, so we took it to the forest preserve and let it go. Your Grandma used to get a craft and needlework book called "Workbasket". One time she found instructions in it to make a bath turtle. The body was cut from an inner tube and it was stuffed with the cork liners pried out of pop bottle caps. It was a gift for your brother when he was little. Made of rubber and cork, it floated in the bath tub. Also, the name of the book was "The Pokey Little Turtle", but I don't know who the author was. I've looked for it in used bookstores, too.

  15. This is so funny. I saw some ceramic turtles in a gift shop only a few days ago and I told my husband about owning turltes small turtles when I was young. I have always loved turtles and have tried to coax some into my pond, but they have a mind of their own. THye leave after a short stay to find greener pastures, or is it bluer ponds?

  16. I recall a book called "The Pokey Little Puppy" I believe it was in the Golden Book Series....


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