Posted by: Dan Sprague | June 12, 2012

Me…Slow like a Turtle?

I always was  fascinated with turtles as a little kid. There were box turtles that were easily caught and safe to catch in the woods at the back of our house. Mom was smart and would not let me keep them for more than a day. I could keep them in a box for 24 hours then I would have to let them go back in to the woods. She told me that they needed the woods for food and their fellow turtles to do well.

I had an old army helmet I would play with and pretend I was a turtle, and my brother gave me the nickname “Turtle”, and it stuck. All his friends called me Turtle for years. When we got older and he did not want “little Brother” hanging around he shortened the nickname to “Turd” and to my dismay that name stuck too, with his friends.

One of my favored lunches my Mom would make for us kids was Mock Turtle Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  It was just vegetable beef soup, 8-), but I thought it was made from Mock Turtles. I liked the Mock Turtle Soup name better even after I learned the truth.

The giant Galapagos Tortoise always fascinated me. I had a picture of a Galapagos’ Tortoise walking on the deck of a Navy Ship and thought that was neat. It was years later that I learned that the turtles were captured and eaten. The slow metabolism of the turtles let them survive a long time on the ship with little attention and when they were used, sailors ate tortoise steaks, the fat as butter, and the scraps for soup.

These big turtles can live up to 150 years, and today they are vigorously protected. They can get to be over 600 lbs. Over the years so many tortoises were taken that now only 11 of the 14 species remain.

In our area we have Gopher Tortoises. About 4 in the afternoon they come out of their holes and lumber around. These are also protected in our state. These basketball size turtles always make me smile when I see them. Our dog is not sure about these things that grunt at him and do not pay any mind to him.

I had not been called Turtle in years, but I was told the other day by a friend’s son after he was following me on a road you could not pass on, that I drove like an “OLD MAN” and a turtle moved faster than I did. What could I say…he was right, and I told him that was my nickname as a kid.


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