Poor Pete and PJ

small-pet-turtle-01This is the 16th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing ChallengeToday’s prompt includes a turtle tortoise.  None the less, I am going to write about my experience with turtles. My sister and I owned several turtles when we were growing up. We always named them PJ and Pete and they always got soft shells and died.  They lived in a little plastic turtle scape much like this one.  We added small, colorful rocks to the bottom. Turtle12

Their bowl sat on top of our bookcase in the bedroom. The room was bright but there wasn’t any direct sunshine there.  The turtles were fed a diet of dried food that came in an orange little container. Sometimes we supplemented it with a fly we caught, or some lettuce. As the shells began to go soft, we would try to get them to drink some cod liver oil and moved their island home into the sunlight. All to no avail.  They all died.  I don’t remember any turtle funerals but there might have been at least one. Perhaps my sister will remember. Pearl says, yes we did bury some of them. I don’t remember being upset, or even minding, when they died.

Our mother didn’t want any real large pets, like cats or dogs, because nobody was home during the day. Maybe because both of her childhood dogs died rather sad deaths too. She was happy to buy us fish and turtles. I think the turtles replaced the fish because it was easier to keep their habitat clean.  Once my sister and I took them out on the porch for a walk with strings tied around their shells. Not a big success.

I have since learned that turtles are salmonella carriers. Luckily we never had that problem.  My children never had turtles for pets but my husband used to find turtles trying to cross the road and bring them home for them to see before releasing them into the nearby woods or lake. After writing this, I have to wonder if they were disoriented from being moved like this. In fact, this whole thing sounds like the torture of turtles.

Pearl and Kristin pretending to race on the upper front porch. Notice the well kept houses in the background.
My sister Pearl and I pretending to race on the upper front porch of the flat on Calvert. This was the house  and the ages we were when we had turtles.
To see more turtles and other stuff, CLICK!

To read more about living on Calvert  go to “C” Is For Calvert.

36 thoughts on “Poor Pete and PJ

  1. Poor turtles. I like though that you tried taking them for a walk. I bet they liked the sunshine.

  2. A lovely photograph of you and your sister. Am I right in thinking that it was your father who was the photographer in the family. I have always been impressed with many of the family photos you have displayed on Sepia Saturday.

    1. My father was the photographer until I was about 6. At that point I recently noticed, he stopped taking any photos. We have a whole house and several years where not one home photo was taken. When we moved to Calvert St., above, my mother was the photographer and she took the one above. I should do a post about who took what when and where.

  3. You two were beautiful children. So many of the contributors this week had those identical turtle bowls which apparently did not provide the necessary environment to sustain turtle life. Sure looked exotic though with the little palm tree. Did the PJ name stand for anything?

    1. I don’t remember any deeper meaning for PJ. there is a vague memory of a character on a TV show named PJ but not sure that was the source.

  4. I look forward to your post about who took your family photos, as it”s something I think about often. I am the photographer in our family, or at least the documenter of family events, gatherings etc., but there have been periods, some quite lengthy, where I haven’t taken any photos at all. Strange.

  5. Hey Kristin – Isn’t it funny how I see tortoises as an exotic pet and now feel that I had deprived childhood having only dogs and cats for pets !

  6. Kristin, I like your memories of your turtles so they are a bit sad. Lots of little pets died because their habitat and food was not right for them. My children had a tortoise called Joggeli, it was always outside in the grass and loved strawberries. We had a friend he had a tortoise, it fell into a little pond and drowned. When he found it, he cried, holding it to his heart and said, oh you silly little fellow…and he was a big man!

    1. Maybe our turtles would have done better out in the grass but being in the middle of Detroit they would have probably gotten run over or eaten by something.

  7. boy did that turtle bowl bring back memories, my brother had the turtles and I had the gold fish. The turtle would always get out and we would find them turn on their backs. Didnt we know how to have fun.

  8. I was not allowed pets either,
    but my mom eventually relented and got me a fish.
    It died.
    I fed it too much, she said,
    and it went belly up.
    Can this be true?
    Anyway, that was my childhood experience.
    As an adult, I had a dog for 4 days then got it adopted
    by a retired couple who had more time to spend with it.
    Then I got a cat who died after only a few months, a tragic death.
    But karma has something in store for me,
    as I now live [happily, may I add] with two cats,
    and everybody is just fine!!!

    I don’t think these bowls offered sufficient room for turtles
    and maybe they got depressed going around that palm tree all day long…
    Poor things indeed!!

    PS: great pic at the end!!

  9. We weren’t allowed pets as a child, as my father said we would get too upset when they died! (In fact it was him who got upset, having lost several dogs when he was younger). I remember some friends having tortoises and turtles as pets and most of them didn’t survive long.

  10. I’ve loved reading about the turtles/tortoises that people had as pets when they were young.

  11. How is it that the poor turtle must be the token pet for children who aren’t allowed real pets, ones that live longer than a summer. These are the kids who learn too early the sad facts of life and death.

    I like Alan and Brett’s question on family photographers. My dad was always the missing person in photos because he was behind the camera. I’m sure the answer is changing with the times as more photos get taken with cellphones.

  12. Had I participated this week, I might have written something similar. I had several pet turtles who lived in a little plastic landscape bowl with a plastic palm tree too. And they always got soft shell. I would buy some kind of treatment for them. You added so many drops to a gallon of water and let them swim around in it. Sometimes they got better for a while. But they would die sooner or later and I would call over my best friend and we would have a burial in my back yard. I think it is illegal now to import the kind of little turtles we had as pets.

  13. I never had a turtle, but for a brief time I did have tadpoles. I’d found them in a pond on a hike to a waterfall in Hawaii. I put them in a coke bottle and brought them home. My folks allowed me to keep them on the back porch in a plastic container. Each day I’d go out to watch them, waiting for them to turn into frogs. I was so excited when one sprouted legs. Finally when it became a frog I would go out and hold it for long periods of time. My mother kept warning me it would die if I kept doing this. It did and it was heartbreaking when I found it floating one morning before school. I let the remainder that lived turn into little frogs, never touched them, then let them loose in the yard. I’m sure they all ended up dead. I should have never taken them from their little pond. My sympathy for your depressed turtles.

  14. I Love Your Family Photo! You Look Ready To Knock The Photographer Over In The Rush!
    Your Turtles Reminded Me Of A Children s TV Programme We Had In the UK When I Was A Kid Called BLUE PETER..They Often Had Pets On The Show ,Who Became Minor Celebrities Themselves! One Was A Tortoise named Freda.The Children of England were in mourning the day the presenter announced FREDAs death!

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