Monday, April 24, 2023

T is for Turtle


#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter T

Once upon a time ago, my brother had two pet turtles. I was preschool age, and I think one of them was supposed to be "mine", but they lived in a plastic bowl in his bedroom and he fed them, so I guess they were way more his. 

The turtles were named Sam and Charlie, and maybe this is a coincidence and maybe it isn't, but I think that was also the names of the two barbers in the barber shop my dad used. They were probably purchased at Woolworth's or Kresge's and were red eared sliders, a turtle you can find anywhere in our area living in ponds, lakes, and streams. 

They had teeny, tiny triangular tails and scratchy little feet, and I was pretty fascinated with our little turtle friends and the way they ducked into their shells when they saw me coming. 

Turtles with a shell smaller than 4" were banned as pets in the US in 1975 when it was discovered they transmitted salmonella. The FDA claims this ban saved 100,000 children per year from contracting salmonella, and this may be true, but ours didn't have a chance to give us anything and here's why:

I used to follow my mom all over the house while she did her housework, talking incessantly, and she didn't always pay that much attention to what I was saying until the day I said, "I can make Sam and Charlie come out of their shells!"

My mom stopped in her tracks. "Show me," she said, and we went to my brother's bedroom and stood before the little orange table with the turtle bowl on top of it.

"Like this!" I said and firmly pushed my finger down in the middle of a turtle shell, and sure enough, the turtle's arms, legs, and head popped right out of the shell.

It's probably unnecessary to tell you that Sam and Charlie went to turtle heaven not long after that, may they rest in peace, and even though I've been labeled Turtle Killer ever since,  I surely saved us from contracting salmonella, 


  1. My sister and I had a series of little turtles that lived in the same little plastic bowl with the little plastic palm. They were always named PJ and Pete. We never pushed their shells that I remember, but they all died of soft shell sooner rather than later. I do remember taking one set for a walk on the porch with a string around their little shells. Poor tormented turtles.

    1. Makes you wonder if they were taken off the market because the poor things were so abused rather than they carried salmonella! I can just picture you walking your turtles on a leash!

  2. We had turtles for a while, i do not remember what happened to them, but it probably wasn't good. I'm glad the tiniest ones can't be kept as pets any longer, poor things.

    1. So many kids had them and I'm sure it was never a lot of fun for those little turtles!