The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

2011.10.05 Some dime store turtles survived the dime store

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

A few months ago, I wrote about the pet turtles of my childhood. The first one, bought from a dime store, lived a short while. The second wandered into our yard one day and would probably have survived longer if he had avoided capture. Instead, Punchy II was moved into our turtle bowl and met his maker while in captivity. 

 I was surprised by the number of readers who had similar stories and at the request of one reader, researched why turtles are now so hard to find for sale. Concerns about the spread of salmonella from contact with turtles resulted in a Food and Drug Administration ban in 1975, barring the sale of turtles with a shell of less than four inches long.

This ban ended the practice of dime and variety stores having a small bin with dozens of wrestling turtles for sale. Since larger turtles would cost more money and need much more space, the days of widespread availability of a small cheap pet were over. But was the salmonella scare overblown?

An FDA pamphlet issued in 2008 says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 103 cases of salmonella infections between May 1, 2007 and January 18, 2008. Most of those infected were exposed to a turtle before getting sick. A recent publication issued by the state of Michigan, however, puts a happier spin on the tiny turtle.

“Getting to know Michigan” says that in 1995, the Michigan Legislature named the painted turtle Michigan’s State Reptile. “For many Michiganians, a ‘painted turtle’ is a part of their childhood,” the booklet states, adding that “Cardboard boxes, old aquariums, tin pails, quart jars, and many other containers have been home to this favorite reptile...The painted turtle is gentle and easy to handle.” 

Now, that doesn’t sound scary at all, does it? It almost sounds unpatriotic not to have a turtle. My own turtle, Punchy II, never made me sick. He certainly was gentle and easy to handle. In fact, it was my own fault for causing his death. Maybe the state and the FDA should get together and see who’s right. In the meantime, a few lucky dime store turtles have enjoyed a long life.

An Internet search turned up an article claiming to be about the “oldest dime store turtle.” A 2007 story about a turtle in McCutchanville, Ind., said it was purchased in 1949 and could fit inside a Dixie cup. “Myrtle,” 58 years old at the time of the article, had grown to 10 inches in length.

After friends showed Myrtle’s owner an article claiming the oldest dime store turtle was a youngster of 41 in Kansas, he began contacting reptile experts who told him Myrtle was probably the record holder. Myrtle’s secret for long life was eating $40 worth of night crawlers a month and two heads of lettuce a week.

Another article, which ran in the South Bend Tribune in October of 2008, tells about “Mr. T,” of Niles, Mich., who was celebrating “her” 50th birthday that month. Many years after the purchase, a veterinarian broke the news to Mr. T’s owner that “he” was a female.

That knowledge didn’t seem to bother the turtle, which was thriving on a diet of leaf lettuce, dry oatmeal flakes and something called Reptile Sticks. The writer of the article pointed out that Mr. T not only outlived the Woolworth’s store where she was purchased, but the entire Woolworth chain, which closed for good in 1997. Of course, that was a lot longer than the S. S. Kresge store in downtown Adrian where I bought the original Punchy lasted.

But the real old-age champion of dime store turtles, at least the oldest revealed by online research, is “Corky,” a resident of Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. Corky, purchased from an unnamed dime store in 1945, was donated to the zoo in 1980 and celebrated her 65th birthday July 10th of 2010.

The celebration included a parade, limbo contest, and turtle-related crafts and activities. There was also an enormous birthday card that well-wishers could sign, enabling them to add to the mail Corky was probably already receiving from AARP. The article included several photos of young children, up close and personal with Corky. Apparently, the zoo isn’t too concerned about salmonella.  

Presuming Corky is still alive, she would have turned 66 years old in July. I wonder if the FDA and CDC sent her birthday cards?

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