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

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

2011.10.05 Some dime store turtles survived the dime store

Written by David Green.


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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