Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wanna hold it?

A long time ago, somewhere in the sixties, we had a couple of pet turtles.  These little guys didn't require much attention, just a little food, a little water and a little plastic island with a plastic tree to call their own.  I believe we got our store bought turtles at Murphy's Department Store at the Agricola Shopping Center.   If memory serves, the pet section of the store was on the back wall to the left.  Murphy's carried small pets, like fish, hamsters, birds and turtles.   It wasn't a big pet department, but there were enough pets back there to draw  a kid's attention.  It's as close to a zoo as I ever got as a boy.

Most kids back in the day had one of those itsy-bitsy green turtles (Red Eared Sliders) at one time or another. Kids in the 50'a and 60's loved those little turtles.  You couldn't do much with them.  You could take them out and hold them for a little bit.  You could put them outside their plastic Eden and let them experience the outside world.  They were small enough to slip in your pocket, but they don't like that.   I always got the feeling that they'd rather stay in their own little clear kidney-shaped habitat.  All the turtles I've met in my life weren't very sociable.  They just wanted to be left alone.

Those little store bought turtles eventually disappeared from the store shelves.  Kids were getting sick from them.  Some kids even died.  It turned out that those little critters are contaminated with salmonella.   Kids have this habit of touching nasty things and not washing their hands afterward.  Due to the sliders shedding of salmonella, the sale of small shelled turtles were banned in 1975.

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