WOOLWORTH 5 AND 10,in the 1950/60’s in queens had tanks of turtles and BABY ALLIGATORS, anyone remember these? I would run past the bras and undees to the rear of the store,as you got close you could smell that wonderful pet shop smell! I still love the smell of parakeet seed and turtle food,they smell the same as they did when i was 6! Also,Easter time,stores sold, baby chicks and rabbits.
My first pet was our family’s dog. She was actually a part of the family before me- my parents got her as a young puppy, and she was a year older than me. She passed away when she was nearly 17 (RIP Tansy). I always had some kind of little animals, starting when I was pretty young… Started with some goldfish, which I’d usually win at carnivals. Later I got some frogs/toads, a couple newts (not all at once) Finally in 5th grade or so, my science teacher’s hamster had babies, so I brought one home. He was a great pet, never bit… I named him Hambrain. Pretty soon after, a friend’s hamster had babies, and I brought 3 home. I caged all 4 together, and you can imagine what happened next… I ended up with generations and generations of hamsters, I think the most I ever had at once was 20 (about 12 were babies). Between me and the friend I got them from, we supplied the whole neighborhood with pets! It was pretty cool, all the hamsters were so friendly and most never bit, I guess they had good genes. I think I had about 6-8 generations of hamsters. The friend and I tried to make a hamster family tree of all our related hamsters. It was pretty complicated- there were great-uncles and nieces that had offspring, etc… I guess inbreeding isn’t really a problem with hamsters, we never had any bad health problems. These were Golden hamsters, the odd thing is everyone keeps telling me now that you should NEVER house Golden hamsters together, because they’ll kill each other. Most of mine lived with other hamsters, I had up to 5 or so in one cage at a time, never hurt each other. When I had the original 4 hamsters, I also bought 2 mice who lived with and got along with the hamsters. I ‘co-owned’ the mice with another friend, and when they would stay at her house, they would be caged with her 2 hamsters (who were related to mine) and they always got along too… We even had sleepovers where we would bring our hamsters and the mice and they’d all sleep in the same cage, and they seemed to enjoy it.
I was suckered into buying the “turtle kit” too. I named my turtle “Lenny”, the name of a family friend. When the turtle died, I refused to believe it. My father poked him with a Q-Tip to prove to me that he was no longer moving and had passed on. To make his death a little less traumatic for me, my parents put him in an ashtray they had taken from Caesars Palace during their trip to Las Vegas. They threw poor Lenny down the incinerator in the Caesars Palace ashtray and said, “At least he died in class”. I still remind them of this and we all get a big kick out of it (especially since we all now live in Las Vegas).
I had my first little green turtle for a long time – a year or two. He rode with me on the #7 train and was my little companion. I gave him milk baths, and my friends and I used to let him out of his aqua-condo (the little tub with the plastic island and palm tree I kept him in) to crawl around the house, with careful supervision of course not to let him stray underneath the heating baseboard. One day, alas, a schoolmate came up to the house to see my new bike and accidently knocked the tub over with the turtle in it. I was so sad. He was a goner. Broke my heart to say good bye. Two weeks later I had another couple of little green turtles, Heckle and Jeckle, but I really loved my other little guy the best.
I remember those little green turtles. We had 2 when I was 5 or 6 and living in Brooklyn. We called them King and Queen (how original). They lived for some short period of time before they died and we buried them in a field that later became Dewey High School. It was a solemn moment for my sister and me. She was only 4 and still remembers it. By the way, I think its now illegal to sell those little turtles. Be on guard for the turtle police!
Every kid at one time or another wants a pet. My very first pet was a little green turtle who I named Max. The pet stores sold “Turtle Kits, and the turtle was free, if you bought the kit to keep it in. The kit consisted of a plastic “turtle condo”, complete with a little island in the center, and a geen plastic tree. Turtle food was extra. I remember the excitement I felt in having something of my own to take care of. Every day when I came home from school, I’d throw down my books and have a visit with Max. Max lived for about a year or so, and after Max died, I moved on to something bigger– Hamsters. I had many. They bred. I had many more. Now, my children and I have a managerie of our own. To date, our managerie consists of; 2 Guinea pigs, a cockatiel, a goldfish, 2 snails, and a hedgehog named Spike. Thanks Max!