Yesterday’s post got me thinking about childhood pets that used to be really popular so today’s little thing is a baby turtle. In the late 70’s I had a friend up the street who had 3 of these little guys and I used to visit them. Actually the kid was sort of weird and there was always something a bit off about him, but since he had baby turtles and I didn’t, that meant he was my friend. Things were a little more black and white in childhood.
The turtles were super cute, but I forget what their names were. What I remember more were the various urban legends of baby turtles being flushed down toilets only to live on as large sewer creatures. These stories would later become the foundation for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the early-mid 80’s. This was disturbing to me and I remember telling my “friend” to promise never to flush them down the toilet. He just looked at me strangely and was probably thinking there was something a bit off about me, but since I liked his turtles, I was his friend.
Large turtle creatures were one thing, but as late as the 60’s there were still souvenir shops in Florida selling baby alligators to stupid tourists as novelty souvenirs. The stories still being told when I was a kid varied, but usually once the surprising discovery was made that baby alligators don’t stay that size, the parents would flush them down the toilet. The creatures would then live on and strike fear in sewer workers or any curious child who might go exploring under ground. As a kid, this was both terrifying and exciting all at the same time.
As an adult, I look back and think some parents must have been amazingly stupid or just rather cruel. I can’t imagine anyone being shocked that a living thing doesn’t stay a baby forever. And flushing any living thing down the toilet is just a horrible thought to me now. But I can see the allure, as I think pretty much any baby version of any creature is pretty cute. Except for spiders. They just look weird and scary at any age.
I almost chose baby animals as my theme for this month, but decided on little things so I could have a bit of flexibility. But I love them, so I’m sure they’ll be lots more coming. As for the baby turtles, I never knew what happened to them. The kid up the street moved to some small town I’d never heard of before and the turtles presumably went with him. It was for the best, I guess, since our relationship was built on a mutual admiration that had nothing to do with each other. And it was entirely likely, he was right, and I was the weird one.