The International Association of Turtles

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44 Responses to “The International Association of Turtles”

  1. piratealice says:

    My dad had one of those cards. I wonder what happened to it.

  2. DoorFrame says:

    Ugh, the Turtles are annoying.

  3. cheeken says:

    Interestingly, I was recently doing some research on my dad (deceased a while ago) who had a little green turtle tattooed on his left forearm. No one in the family knew *for sure* what it meant, but after asking around, it turns out he was a Turtle, and seems to have taken it pretty seriously (well, at least as seriously as one can when “You bet your sweet ass I am” is the motto.)

    It’s interesting to see this come up here. Here are some of the pages I ran across in doing my research about my father:

    Geocities Turtle Page
    ruaturtle.com
    Are You A Turtle?
    Another one
    Masonic Turtles – This one seems to trace the origins of the turtles back to the Masons…it’s certainly interesting stuff.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Kurt Vonnegut mentiones the “You bet your sweet ass I am!” thing in one of his books, but I forgot which one. According to Vonnegut, whenever he was asked if he was a member of the Turtle society he HAD to yell “You bet your sweet ass I am!” at the top of his lungs, no matter how inappropriate the circumstances…

  5. Wickedashtray says:

    I had a buddy in elementary school who brought one of those cards in. Always thought it was dumb though it is cool to see the history of it.

  6. andy cochrane says:

    Ha!!! I had a friend in high school who was a member of the turtles, I completely forgot about that until I saw the image on this post (I recognized it before I even read the headline or copy). Thanks for the blast back to the past!

  7. skirtmanwarrior says:

    re message 23: the card in question was written by Wally Schirra, and flashed in front of the Apollo 7 TV camera during the first series of live broadcasts from space in October, 1968. The card read, “Deke Slayton, Are You A Turtle?” Slayton was capsule communicator on the ground at the time, and his response was, “I have recorded my answer.” He apparently switched off his mike while delivering the “You bet your sweet ass I am.” Believe it or not, Time magazine dutifully reported all this, and the story is available on their website:

    < http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,900413,00.html>

  8. Gary61 says:

    My girlfriend has a sweet ass .. and I’ve often ‘bet’ her in my local 5-card stud poker games (when I’m pretty sure I’ve got the winning hand).

    So, I’ve ‘bet my sweet ass’ quite a few times ….

    Do I get honorary membership?

  9. joejoejoe says:

    The Turtle Club is mentioned in Tom Wolfe’s novel ‘The Right Stuff’ about the Mercury astronauts.

  10. Tavie says:

    “This password must be given if you are ever asked by a fellow member, “Are you a Turtle?” You MUST then reply “You bet your sweet ass I am.” If you do not give the password in full because of embarassment or some other reason, you forfeit a beverage of his choice. So always remember the password. ”

    This blew my mind. This was an inside joke between me and my mom, something she told me once when we were visiting the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. We were looking at astronaut stuff and she told me that astronauts always ask eachother this question, but that I shouldn’t tell my sister because the answer was too “grown-up”. So it was a secret joke between she and I for years.

    I had no idea it was based on a secret society. I’m kind of blown away right now.

  11. ill lich says:

    Holy shit! My dad was an Air Force pilot in WW2 (although he never saw action, and certainly never served in the UK), and he used to use those jokes all the time, including the “Are you a turtle” line, which he transplanted onto another unrelated local club he was in.

  12. Tavie says:

    “This password must be given if you are ever asked by a fellow member, “Are you a Turtle?” You MUST then reply “You bet your sweet ass I am.” If you do not give the password in full because of embarassment or some other reason, you forfeit a beverage of his choice. So always remember the password. ”

    This blew my mind. This was an inside joke between me and my mom, something she told me once when we were visiting the Air & Space Museum in Washington DC. We were looking at astronaut stuff and she told me that astronauts always ask eachother this question, but that I shouldn’t tell my sister because the answer was too “grown-up”. So it was a secret joke between she and I for years.

    I had no idea it was based on a secret society. I’m kind of blown away right now.

  13. FAC33 says:

    I heard about this years ago back when I was a Usenet junkie and read alt.folklore.urban.
    I had always thought the *only* thing required for Turtle membership was the “you bet your sweet ass” line. Had no idea they had membership cards and initiation fees.

    Alas, no one has ever asked me the question.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I want a turtle to “Turtle” me in.
    “So mote it be.”

  15. foobar says:

    I wonder why they overcharge non Americans.

  16. Alli says:

    Hrmm. When I was in High School in the early 80′s, we also belonged to a ‘special drinking’ group. Woodchucks to be precise. And one had to respond, when asked if you were a Woodchuck with the phrase “You bet your sweet ass I am!” No ID cards tho.

    I suspect t’was an offshoot of the Turtles, as we lived in a pretty rural area. Haven’t met any Woodchucks in years tho.

  17. Burns! says:

    This was a blast from the past for me, too. My grandfather was a Turtle, and I remember hearing about it as a very young child in the early 70s. Hadn’t thought of it in over 25 years, but I recognized the password right away. I think I’ll join now to carry on the legacy.

  18. lautaylo says:

    OH MAN!

    I’ve heard about the Turtles before, but never in this detail. In my circle of friends, we are “Cardinals” – I think someone brought it back from college or something ages ago. Also called “Cardinal Puff”. I was told that it descended from the Turtles, but didn’t think to look them up. We issue the “Cardinal Challenge” to gain membership: it involves finishing about 24 oz of beer throughout the task (drank from the regulation-size plastic Steak n Shake cup), and completing a complex series of hand taps, gestures, etc., all in the correct order. Fascinating ritual. If one performs any bit of it incorrectly, one must start over from the beginning and have the cup refilled with beer. This gets a lot more difficult if you don’t concentrate and do it right the first time, needless to say.

    Anyway, once all is finished properly, one is asked, “Are you a Cardinal?” The only proper response is, “You bet your sweet ass I am.” If one fails to give the appropriate response, one must perform the ritual all…over…again…

    No membership card required, though I dare say the “dues” involved are worth more than $5 to get it right!

    http://www.brewthis.com/drinking-games/The-Real-Cardinal-Puff-rules.html

    The above site has the movements and finger placements correct, but we do the words a bit differently.

    http://www.beerhunting.org/default.aspx?g=posts&t=9

    This site points to Notre Dame as the origin. As an Indiana native, I find that spiffy!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I became a member in 1972 when I was in high school. I think instill have my card somewhere. I know I still have my jeans jackets with a big turtle embroidered on the back!

  20. Simeon says:

    What’s a four letter word for snatch?

    (Answer: Grab)

  21. Victor Erimita says:

    My Dad is a big turtle guy. He is part of the dying lounge culture where these sort of bar room jokes were once commonplace. He made me a turtle years ago and you bet your sweet ass I am. I find old turtle memorabilia once in a while and send it to him. For instance the turtle Jim Beam bottle: http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/clt/524953146.html

  22. legotech says:

    I am wearing a Turtle TShirt to the next con…feel free to ask for the password :)

  23. V says:

    Apparently, there’s an Army version, too, since these guys have brought their own asses…

    http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d104/NWKlr650/ed6d0b2e.jpg

    http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d104/NWKlr650/26a34356.jpg

  24. Anonymous says:

    The “Turtle” rage struck several of my buddies and I during my tour of Germany in the ’70s. We all had the cards and had a good bit of fun with it back then. I even have a Jim Beam bottle asking the question, “Are you a Turtle?”. Unfortunately Beam felt too inhibited to correctly answer the question. Instead the back of the bottle reads, “How sweet is is”.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hi- my name is David, don’t have time to log in. I remember this “club” from when I was in my teens. One of the other questions was “what goes in a woman’s mouth long and hard, but comes out soft and sticky”. chewing gum, of course.

  26. Rafferty says:

    My sixty-year-old father will still, upon being asked if he is a Turtle, respond “you bet your sweet ass I am.” Great fun when I was younger, and still a good thing to pull out at times like midnight Mass and funerals.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I do have an orignal card and was trying to find the crest electronically somewhere. Any ideas?

    My husband and I were both card carrying members and added a few members through the years (often our friends who were also balloonists with us). We were particular in who we shared the Society with and enjoyed the laughs.

  28. mdhatter says:

    Betting my sweet ass since 1991, tyvm.

  29. romulusnr says:

    I’m not turtley enough for the turtle club. Turtle! Turtle!

  30. Anonymous says:

    You bet your sweet ass I am!
    I’ve been a Turtle since 1967. I have an official membership card

  31. 12xuser says:

    Back in the 70s I remember seeing a short TV interview with an astronaut in a capsule orbiting the earth. The interviewer was another astronaut in Houston, who asked him “Are you a turtle”, in answer to which the orbiter could only smile. At the time, it was mystifying.

  32. monospace says:

    I don’t get it. How is this related to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

  33. Anonymous says:

    On June 11th and 12th Camp Killer, Axe Man and Big Country with a “K” became members of the International Turttle Assocatoion in Ashraf Iraq.
    Our mission is to recruit as many members as we can while serving in Iraq.

  34. Pipenta says:

    #31

    No Gary, no you don’t.

    You have to bet your actual own sweet ass, the one you are sitting on right now. And if it is not sweet, you do not qualify. And anyone who bet his girlfriend’s ass in a poker game is not sweet, and has not an ass that is sweet.

    You are disqualified. Sorry.

  35. dannysland says:

    My high school German teacher was a turtle. One of my fellow stoner smartass students found out about this, and frequently asked him, during class, if he was a turtle. To Herr Mac’s credit, he always proudly replied “You bet your sweet ass I am,” in full.

  36. TURTLE says:

    In 1966 while a senior at Archbishop Rummel in Metairie, LA (just outside of New Orleans) I started a Turtle Club. I found a stack of membership cards on my dad’s dresser, and he told me I could take a few… or did i just appropriate em….don’t remember now. Anyway within a week I had about 10 card-carrying-members. I was the presdent and bsoc (big shot on campus) Whenever we would have a few of us in a class together at the same time, and the teacher’s back was turned to use the blackboard, one of us would whisper the fatal question… “Joe, are you a Turtle”? The reply was always the same in a LOUD VOICE…”YOU BET YOUR SWEET ASS I AM”! Shit…your heart raced and you knew that you were dead meat. After happening in the same class for 2 or 3 times, the teacher would begin to get pissed. Looked like their head was going to explode. I believe that our History teacher knew about the Turtle Club and he would usually just say “knock it off nuckle heads”! Some teachers were not so understanding. By the end of 2 or 3 weeks, each member had to spend time in detention at least once or twice. That got old fast!!! We kept a log in a small note book and at the end of about 3 weeks we talied the drink payoffs and had a wild Friday night blast. As I recall, it involved such delights as Singapore Slings, Southern Comforts, Hurricane’s, Sloe Gin Fizz etc. Yes, you had to drink to be a member. Had a lot fun with those cards! Funny that I had not thought about the membership cards until tonight and decided to Google it. Taking those cards to school was not so bad….. now it’s guns. TY for the memories
    paul b Rummel- charter class 66

  37. grimc says:

    @tavie

    I think the real story is how your mom learned about the society’s secret password…

  38. thepeel says:

    Some friends and I have been self-inducted members of the Turtle Club ever since we read about it in, I believe, Breakfast of Champions.

    We kind of used it as a game (similar to the penis game) where we’d ask each other if they were a member at completely inappropriate times and force them to answer multiple times until we were satisfied that it was loud enough that they had sufficiently embarrassed themselves or at least caused a scene.

    I’m not sure why, but it’s upsetting, that in order to be official, I have to pay $5. At least it’s for a good cause.

  39. flyingturtle says:

    I was turtled by a fellow American Legion member and turtle club member in 1986. I have been turtling people ever since. We only charge $1.00 to get in. We then turn this money over to the forty and eight (an elite society of legion members), we use these funds to give scholarships to nurses. The fun I have bringing people into the club is great. I have a Turtle Pin, but have not been able to find any place to buy pins to give to newly procured members. Does anyone know where I can get Turtle pins?
    I am also a Flying Turtle. This division came into existence in 1968 during the Apollo 7 flight when Walter Schirra asked ” are you a turtle?” Immediately those of us who are encouraging advancements in Aeronautics and Space reconized for the first time that our Ass was out of this world. Henceforth all Flying Turtles must add to the official turtle phrasology “and our ass is out of this world”. There are also riddles to solve to become a Flying Turtle.
    The Offical Flying Turtle card has a picture of a space capsule with a turtle hanging on the side of it.
    Remember Flying Turtles are Friendly Turtles!

  40. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been a Turtle since college — 1980. We had a blast with it. Never saw a card that I can remember, but it might be all those beverages I cashed in on back then! YBYSAIA!!!

    We even had a story about our jack ass and where he lived — he was a communal jack ass. What fun. I need to get my kids inducted!

  41. Magistrale says:

    There is indeed an ‘Are you a Turtle?’ card in the Smithsonian (or was, last time I was there). Legend has it that one of the astronauts flashed it to a member of the ground crew during a live TV broadcast, which would have meant that the crew member either had to say ‘You bet your sweet ass I am’ on TV, or stand all of the thousands of people watching the telecast a drink.

    IIRC, the legend says that the crew member he switched his microphone off before answering.

  42. Brok Enlish says:

    I am thinking about it. Could I belong?
    brokenglish.blogspot.com

  43. Moon says:

    I was a Turtle when I was a kid (the early 60s). We had cards and everything. It didn’t cost anything, IIRC.

  44. Stefan Jones says:

    I recall that there’s a copy of the card on display in the Smithsonian Air & Space museum, with some other astronaut memorabilia.

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