Friday, February 15, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Tears for Turtles


Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt of the pipe-smoking soldier inspecting the battalion mascot conjured up the faint memory of my sister’s pet turtle, Terri.  It’s a sad story.  Prepare to weep.

People who grew up with dogs are usually sympathetic to the plight of a child who longs for the companionship of man’s best friend, a loyal companion who would enjoy a run through the neighborhood, a game of fetch, a belly-rub, a snuggle. 

Lorenza Davis, with Mary Eleanor Davis, Orvin Davis, Jr. and Fritz
Uncle Renza Davis, Momma, her brother
Orvin Davis, Jr. and Fritz
My mother always had a dog as a child.  (I wrote about Fritz previously HERE.) 

But contrary to the belief that once a dog person always a dog person, Momma refused to allow my sister or me to have a dog.  No cat, either.  What?  Hadn’t she read the parenting magazines that promised having a pet would teach responsibility and compassion?

Momma did, however, give in and let us have a goldfish, four of them, actually:  Pixie and Dixie, Charlie (no doubt named in honor of the popular StarKist tag-line “Sorry, Charlie”), and some other one whose name is long forgotten, probably something equally clever like “Goldie.”


Once we mastered goldfish-level responsibility and compassion, we moved up to Turtle.  I was over the need for a pet by then, so Terri was Mary Jollette’s pet and her responsibility. 

Photo courtesy HA HA of
my sister at age 6
Terri is the little brown thing on the left.


Terri had a bowl with a palm tree and colorful gravel.  She could walk in a circle and enjoy the view from the ever-clouding plastic bowl.  After awhile she quit walking.  Her shell turned brown and soft.  We thought she was dying, but our neighbor assured us this weird look was normal for such a turtle. 

But eventually it was clear that Terri was not going to make it.  She was buried in a box in the backyard.  We held a funeral and we all cried. 



Susan Golden and Mary Jollette Slade 1966 Portsmouth, Virginia
Mary Jollette on the right with her friend Susan.
Terri is buried somewhere close to this area
under a fig tree that Daddy cut down.  

After that traumatic experience, I understood the popularity of the pet rock.  No tears for them!  

Come out of your shell and visit Sepia Saturday to see what other bloggers have made of this week’s theme.


45 comments:

  1. Poor little Terri, with an "i". I always wanted one of those little turtles. I think that they no longer sell them do to salmonella poisoning or something.

    As always, I loved your post!

    Kathy M.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Terri always hated when people spelled her name with a "y." LOL

      Delete
  2. She was a sweet turtle *sniff*

    Susan and I look so elegant in our dress ups! haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, very well-dressed for cement-pad sitting.

      Delete
  3. You brought back memories of many pet funerals. It really never got any easier and we still suffer mightily when we lose one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, and that's probably why Momma wouldn't let us have a dog. She probably didn't want to cry whenever it should die.

      Delete
  4. Come out of your shell....love it....I do enjoy bloggers' witty segues back to the mother blog!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a well-written post. I laughed at the part about graduating from gold fish to turtle. But I cried when I heard of Terri's demise. Laughed again when you've decided to opt for a pet rock.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, well I had to lighten the mood. I didn't want anyone on a suicide-watch after reading this.

      Delete
  6. This really brings back memories of childhood pets. We never had a cat, but we did have goldfish, painted turtles, parakeets, and many many dogs. They never live as long as you wish they would but father's make wonderful funeral directors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fathers do indeed! At least they can dig a hole.

      Delete
  7. Lovely blog Wendy. Brought back memories.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I never was a pet person. I appreciate others' fondness for pets, but for some reason most who do, think there's something wrong with me that I don't share that feeling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not a pet person either. I must have gotten it from my mother.

      Delete
  9. Rest in peace, Terri. Always a sad, cry-a-bucket day when pets die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You got that right. I had a good cry over my daughter's hamster. Sheesh ~

      Delete
  10. Now that is a sad tale. I used to keep these little turtles (terrapins) myself. I remember deciding that the initial bowl was too small for the creature and getting larger and larger tanks only to discover that the wretched creature expanded to the size of the available tank.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YIKES -- I guess in a sick way I'm glad Terri died before needing a big aquarium.

      Delete
  11. We had one of those turtles in the bowl with a palm tree. When I taught first grade I had a turtle for my class in a large aquarium. They loved Sparky. I still love turtles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sparky - what a funny little name, rather ironic too.

      Delete
  12. My eldest boy had terrapins but they did not survive for long. I don't remember funerals for them; for Deirdre my daughter's hamster the tears watered the garden for weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yeah, we cried hamster tears over my daughter's hamster Buddy. He's buried in the back yard among the azaleas.

      Delete
  13. I never shed tears for goldfish and turtles, but I still remember the family dog dying when I was about three or four. I get upset even reading about pet dogs and cats dying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's why I don't want a dog -- that's too much like a real pet. I couldn't take it when my sister's dog died a few years ago!

      Delete
  14. We had the same pet and turtle experience! I'm saddened to think that there were thousands of us out there not allowed a cat or a dog. Doomed to fish and turtles. So sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just read your post. You have a more complete story, that's for sure!

      Delete
  15. Okay, not so much a fan of weeping today, so I'm extremely happy you let us know first, so I could STOP in the name of TEARS- and just enjoy your most darling photo! I'm trying my hardest to not even glance at any comments- see you next week here- !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really wasn't all THAT sad. Exercising a little artistic freedom.

      Delete
  16. Well I for one am glad you issued a warning Wendy. I had the Kleenex handy ;) Perhaps poor Terri needed some calcium in the form of my cuttlefish bones. If only we knew then what we know now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, cuttlefish bones might have done the trick.

      Delete
  17. Oh, poor little Terri. And your poor sister Mary. It can be quite tramatic to lose a pet.

    Our daughter had several fish while she was growing up. And we have a "fish cemetery" of sorts in our backyard. Our daughter even painted rocks with the names of the fish who passed away on them to mark the spots where they were buried.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We weren't forward-thinking enough to make real tombstones.

      Delete
  18. That is very sad. The poor wee turtle never got to be a turtle.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The history of Terri the turtle is indeed a mournful tale. But consider that if he/she were a tortoise they might still be muddling along in the back garden. My sister-in-law has two tortoises and they are now close to 40! She has made provision for their care in her will!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As an adult, I'm all for the disposable pet.

      Delete
  20. That's quite the turnabout!!
    From a sad story [I can relate to]to some a conclusion,
    a reference to the pet rock. That got me laughing.
    Never had one of those nor wanted one.
    I never understood the concept...
    but it made a great conclusion to this post.
    Though, a pet rock, it's always there when you come home,
    doesn't poop nor stink. Doesn't lie or cheat on you.
    It's better than a husband or a dog,
    but the conversation is not very stimulating,
    among other things...
    Nah, gotta keep trying with men and pets!!
    No way around it!!
    ;)~
    HUGZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the pro-con discussion of pet rocks. I had considered doing the pro-con of turtles, but there weren't many points in either column.

      Delete
  21. Wendi, all problems sorted, the virtual turtle on the desktop. No tears at all, even if it disappears into cyber sphere. Interesting that your Mum did not allow a dog or a cat. I always had a dog and once I smuggled in a cat and hid it in the outhouse which was not used anymore!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a cute story about keeping a cat in the abandoned outhouse. I trust there was a lid!

      Delete
  22. Oh Yes,Pets Of Any Persuasion Form A Strong Focal-point with Their Owners.
    How Sad The Tears,But Bravo The Memory!

    ReplyDelete