Sunday, December 06, 2009
Thank you for all the kind emails and IMs you have sent regarding the death of Marjorie Braund yesterday morning. I am very touched at quite how many people cared about her. Thank you all from the bottom of my rather battered heart. I am going to keep them and pass them on to Kaye and her family when the dust has settled a bit. I know that David usually reads the blog each day and will take comfort in the fact that so many people cared about his beloved grandmother.
Thank you also for your kind emails regarding my state of health. Just as I thought it would, the rumour mill of the Internet has already worked overtime and I am meant to be having "major chest surgery" in January. It is, I guess, chest surgery as it is the removal of a lump from my chest, but it is external rather than thoracic, and it is by no stretch of the imagination `major`. Indeed it is being carried out by the `Minor Surgical Procedures Team` and if all things are equal I shall be out the same day. However, I am a confirmed coward, and am not looking forward to it.
Syd, bless him, read me a lecture about not going barefoot when you are a diabetic. He is (of course) right, and both nurses and my dear wife have been telling me that for ages. I now wish that I had listened to them because my left foot is still bloody sore after friday morning's incident. But it seems to be healing slowly. Lawrie (bless him as well) also gave me a lecture about my health. Thank you, my dears. It is heartening to know that people care.
The picture comes from a rather charming 1889 book The Savage World; it features many interesting animals, some long gone such as the passenger pigeon and the great auk, while others like the quagga and thylacine are just missing, awaiting rediscovery, or in the case of the quagga, resurrection through selective breeding. Why then, with such luminaries present, does this crab stand out from the crowd? Well, it’s the nature of the picture, it’s a hunting scene and this particular crab is hunting goat. Yes, goat. Not something you would expect to see in the claws of a crab and certainly not when you consider that the crab is hauling the goat into the tree. Could such a sight have ever occurred?
July 27, 1948
'Ora Blue and Charley Wilson, brothers-in-law of Gale Harris, had their fishing rudely interrupted by Oscar, who suddenly surfaced along side of their row boat. They said his back was bigger than the boat and his head the size of a child`s.' (Oscar Fulk, the original owner of the property, reported seeing the turtle 50 years ago) (2).
'First week of March,1949. Oscar was seen again, and this time a group of townspeople sought out to capture him. According to Harris and newspaper reports, they actually had the turtle trapped in about ten feet of water off the shore in a trap consisting of stakes and chicken wire but Oscar was too strong and broke out. But at this time a man named Del Winegardner climbed up a tree and took films of Oscar. Merl Leitch and Dally Fogle both claim they saw the turtle in the film (though not in person), that it was clearly visible just beneath the water level and was every bit as big as Blue and Wilson claimed. Unfortunately, the film, along with photographs taken by Dailey Fogel, are not available. Mr Winegardner sold the film four years ago.' (3)
March 11 1949
'O. E. Jones, Churubusco, former owner of the farm, said some fellows had told him about a big turtle. "I said it was my Black Angus cow swimming around,” he had replied. Tracks extending 10 to 15 feet were found in the mud.' (4)
End of March
'Four hundred autos an hour snakes there way along the highway to the farm. Letters arrived addressed simply, "Turtle Town, USA." Profssional trappers from Tennessee were called in. More divers went under. All these efforts were greatly hindered by the cold and icy March weather. Most observers theorized that Oscar was hibernating in the soft, mushy lake bottom. The town of Syracuse, IN, the site of Lake Wawasee resident and Harris had somehow lured him away into his lake!' (5)
March 19 1949
'The Harris family began selling coffee and hot dogs. Diver Rigsby went down, but the helmet leaked, so he came back up. The search was called off.' (6)
The hunt for Oscar continued through 1949 with various ingenious methods for trying to capture him/her (such as draining the lake) but to not avail. However:
'October 13th 1949 And Oscar didn`t disappoint them [the onlookers]. On a Sunday morning, in plain view of 200 people, he put on his most spectacular show when he leaped out of the water to feast on the live ducks set a top a trap.' (7)
'Finally, October 21st 1949. But this was the last show, for Gale Harris began to run into problems. The soft, mushy bottom presented problems. It started caving in, greatly reducing the amount of pumping they could do. The pump wore out. Eventually the tractor broke down. To supplement the worn out machinery (and men) a 17 foot crane was brought in. A reporter from a Chicago paper fell into one of the crevices and almost drowned. For two months they pumped and struggled, and in December it was all over. Harris had an attack of appendicitis and when he got out of the hospital, rain had filled up the lake.' (8)
Wikipedia has this to say about cultural impact: 'Oscar`s memory lives on in Churubusco`s Turtle Days festival held each June. It includes a parade, carnival and turtle races. A turtle shell labelled “Beast of Busco” hangs in the Two Brothers Restaurant in Decatur, Indiana.' (9)
1. Wikipedia Beast of Busco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beast_of_Busco
2. Churubusco Chamber of Commerce “Oscar The Beast of Busco” p.2
3. Ibid p.2
4. Ibid p.2
5. Ibid. p.3
6. Ibid. p.4
7. Ibid p.4
8. Ibid p.4
9. Wikipedia op cit.
Never leaves a gap
Always pays on time
Always fits the bill
He comes well prepared
90 degree angles
Stares straight ahead
Never tips over
Stands up on his own
He is a blockhead
Thinking man full grown
On this day on in 2006 NASA released photographs taken by the Mars Global Surveyor that showed gullies, weathering and erosion likely caused by water.
And now for a spot of fortean zoology news:
Zulu king wins South Africa bull-killing case
Antarctica Was Oasis for Life During "Great Dying" 250 Million Years Ago
Pigs really can fly....with the help of a trampoline
My, that’s a ‘pig’ jump.