Monday, March 15, 2010

The Bowie Turtle Mystery

My wife has fond memories of playing on a concrete turtle in the 1970s in the Bowie shopping center that she has always known as Market Place, and in the years since, she has heard people claim that the Market Place turtle was moved to Allen Pond Park. She recalls, however, that the Market Place turtle and the Allen Pond turtle existed at the same time. She also recalls that the Market Place turtle had indentations to make the climb easier for kids, and the Allen Pond turtle did not.

The minor turtle controversy was a topic of discussion when my wife was working for the Bowie Blade as a reporter in 2006. She doesn't recall why, but she thinks that it may have been a comment from a reader in response to a Sam Fatzinger story in the Blade that claims that Allen Pond Park is the latest home for the turtle that used to be located in front of People's Drugs. My wife recalls that one of her colleagues investigated by talking to one or two sources at Bowie City Hall. She thinks the results were inconclusive.

The turtle(s) have since been discussed on Bowie related Facebook pages: Bowie, MD Stories and You Know You're From Bowie When....

The following is a March, 2010 picture of the turtle in Allen Pond Park.






"LONDINO STONE COMPANY" is engraved on the left front leg of the turtle.




The following is a picture of a turtle from Pittsburgh, PA that I found on Flickr (see pic on Flickr). My wife believes that this more closely resembles the Market Place turtle. What do you think?

Lost Keys





UPDATE: I was able to locate a picture of the turtle from the Belair Shopping Center. Click here to see the photo.

18 comments:

  1. Actually, it was called Belair Shopping Center before it became Market Place. Memories!

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    1. Very true and I think the turtle was brick red oe green.

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  2. Thanks Anonymous. Any idea when the name changed?

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  3. Here is a comment that was posted on Facebook:

    The one from PA does resemble the Belair Shopping Center (Market Place)turtle more than the Allen Pond turtle. Trust me when I say that this is not the turtle. The original turtle was much bigger. We were able to climb underneath of it and sit inside. We would do this as teenagers so it's not like we were all that small. This is definitely not it.

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  4. This is definitely NOT the turtle from the Market Place. There were indendations all over it to make it easy for us to climb on. Ah, growing up in Bowie was great!

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  5. Anonymous, that seems to be the consensus.

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  6. Hmmm, I know I have a picture of the turtle from the Belair Shopping Center. Actually, I should say my mom has a picture of my brother and me in front of the turtle. I'll see if I can dig it up this week.

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  7. Tammy, let me know if you find it. I would be interested to see that. My wife thought that her mother had a picture of her on the turtle, but we dug through all of the old family pictures, and we didn't find one.

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  8. I'll go to my parent's house tonight. :) I'm really curious now.

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  9. Well...we searched and we couldn't find it! My brother thought there was a picture, too. Oh well. Both my brother and my husband describe the turtle as the one your wife remembers. I didn't show them your post with the pictures....but they both described it as having those cut outs for climbing. If the picture ever turns up...I'll let you know.

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  10. Thanks Tammy. I imagine there's a picture out there somewhere.

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  11. Those of us who spent way too much time on the real BSC turtle know that the one at Allen(s) Pond is an impostor. I am old enough to remember when only live turtles, frogs and goldfish with loose change filled a Japanese styled garden pond that originated in the spot where those turtles eventually appeared. I ought to remeber...I got busted wading into it for frog...ok, it was a handful of quarters.
    BH

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  12. BH, I think the statute of limitations has run out, so you should be safe now.

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  13. Tammy, I was finally able to locate a picture of the Belair Shopping Center turtle. Click here to see it.

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  14. Play Sculptures, a subsidiary of Creative Playthings, made the Belair Shopping Center turtle and its kin in the late 50s and early 60s. There are three in Washington DC and at least a dozen others from New Jersey to California.

    Turtles similar to the one at Allen Pond appear at a few playgrounds in New York City. Londino also made chess tables for NYC parks.

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  15. I remember the turtle very well. It was across from Marty's, a card/hobby shop where we used to buy Estes Rockets, school supplies, and vacuum tubes for the TV. Also in the same shopping center were the Charcoal Inn (my grandmother worked there), McRory's (spelling?) drugstore, Peeble's, and the Music and Arts Center. These were all there in the mid-1970s.

    Here is a catalog from the manufacturer, showing the turtle and other related items.

    http://daddytypes.com/2007/01/19/rare_play_sculptures_catalogue_blueprint_for_postwar_suburban_utopia_sic_on_ebay.php

    Dave Eden
    Crownsville, MD

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  16. Dave, Thanks for sharing your story.

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