Frank Gallo's weekly contribution to our blog -- Frank is Director of the CAS Coastal Center at Milford Point
I thought my mom was going to kill me when mosquitoes hatched from the bucket of frog eggs in my bedroom. My mother was generally a good sport about such things, but she had her limits. All future acquisitions were relegated to the front porch. Thus began my illustrious career as a collector of all things wild. I was 7.
Each weekend my brother Paul and I would jump on our bikes and race off to collect something new. One week we’d catch frogs in the Mill Pond; another we’d test our skill and agility on crayfish or salamanders in the stream. It was great being a kid whose mom thought children should be outside playing instead of glued to the TV. We were doubly fortunate that our back yard abutted 500 acres of woods and was within walking distance of a pond and several streams. So off we would ride with nets and buckets strapped to our handlebars or shock-corded to our bike racks. Often we returned with animals to add to our growing collection. Our bedroom and front porch looked like a pet store. Aquariums stuffed with fish, snakes, turtles, frogs, mole crickets and a myriad of creatures great and small surrounded the room.
As we grew older, we’d head farther afield. On one such adventure, we’d found a pond in
The Silvermine Artists Guild has a pond in their front yard. It was rumored to hold spotted turtles, a most prized species. I also knew, because I’d stepped on it, that there was a huge snapping turtle in the pond. (We didn’t know at the time that snapping turtles pose no threat to humans in the water; they’re frightened of people, and we’re not on their food chain.) My brother and I discussed the perceived danger at length, and decided to risk it. Our biggest problem was reaching the turtles. To do so, we had to wade to the far shore in water up to our necks. We edged nervously into the water, bucket poised above our heads, and set out, eyes darting about in search of the killer turtle. On the far side we discovered only painted turtles, and reaching them proved difficult. It meant wading in mud up to our chests. We nearly got stuck but eventually managed to escape, turtles in-hand and all limbs intact. Later, my mother wouldn’t let us in the house. I think she burned our clothes.
There was a "Naturemobile," in the early days of the Nature Center that went from park to park on summer weekends offering free programs to the general public, especially kids. I remember biking all over town on the weekends to meet the
We once found a discarded cement-mixing pan, which was large enough to carry three of us. After a little repair work, we launched an expedition down the
Please check back next week for the second installment of Frank's story "When We Were Just Kids"