ARCHIVES Pt. 9 a daring rescue at sea!

PLUS meet my Cast of Characters! 


Mitch's turtle, long gone...

Scoop #3 2002


  A Jam-Packed Column for all Campers, including a Daring Rescue, a 'Stinky Story', more 'Turtle Tales' (featuring Marv Powell), plus extra features such as Tips For Harried Housewives, Realtors Cringe As Buyer 'Tests the Waters', Jimmy Barnes Latest: a 'Psychic Scam', and more!

Plus a new CONTEST…Jump in, you Snapperheads!

One of the pleasures of camping is enjoying the wildlife…the birds, the squirrels, and, if you are fortunate to camp near a body of water, the frogs and turtles. You tend to become one with the animals, spending your evenings watching them, sometimes even talking to them. There’s nothing wrong with this, unless you are Mitch Mullins and the turtle you talk to every night has been dead for a week.

"We thought he was kidding," said an anonymous source. "Mitch was on vacation all week, and he would work in his garden during the day, then relax on his deck and look out at the lake. One night he noticed this huge turtle out about fifty feet. He thought it was an exotic species, because it was floating upside-down. Mitch tried to coax it to shore. It came a little closer and then stopped. The next night Mitch coaxed it in a few feet closer. He seemed to really enjoy talking to the big turtle. When it turned upright, Mitch was really excited."

Mitch’s mission was to get the turtle on shore so he could pet it, he explained to his neighbors. They didn’t want to discourage Mitch’s fun, so no one told Mitch that the turtle was dead. Gentle currents brought the turtle closer each night, energizing Mitch. "Then the turtle got wedged against a sunken log," said another anonymous neighbor, "and there it stayed. Despite all Mitch’s pleading, the turtle wouldn’t come closer."

A third neighbor put it more bluntly: "Dr. Doolittle there was lucky…that was the biggest snapper I’ve ever seen. They would’ve been calling him ‘Cap’t. Hook’ by now if that thing was alive."

Mitch Mullins has apparently come to terms with his turtle. He merely says Hello each night, then spends his time feeding the squirrels that meet on his deck, whom he has named Abbot and Costello. "I’m feeding them Trail Mix now," said a happy Mitch. "Pretty soon I’ll get them started on peanuts and walnuts. I hope some day to feed them when they’re sitting on my lap."

Mitch’s blunt neighbor had this to say: "That boy is in for a heap of trouble. They’ll eat his nuts all right, and he’ll be calling the ‘Bobbit’ Hot-Line right after."

Update! According to a reliable source, Mitch once again underwent a water-related incident. Luckily, he was able to ‘land on his feet’, as you will see, and avert a tragedy.

Mitch has a rowboat. "I like to take friends out on the lake, or sometimes just to check on my turtle," said Mitch. "Well, I took my neighbor Marcy for a ride the other day, and disaster struck!"

Marcy Windham was in the bow of the rowboat when it suddenly tipped over. "That’s never happened before," said Mitch (see ‘Investigative Report’ that follows—Scoop). "Right away Marcy got trapped in seaweed…she was struggling. I’m not a great swimmer myself, so I figured our only chance was getting back to the boat."

Mitch was able to get himself and Marcy to the capsized rowboat, but a new dilemna presented itself. "We were far from shore," explained Cap’t. Mitch. "I couldn’t right the boat, so I decided to ‘walk’ it in."

With Marcy clinging to the rowboat, Mitch held his breath and dropped below the surface. With his feet on the bottom and upraised hands holding on to the boat, Mitch slowly plodded towards shore. "I had to pop up for air every now and then, so it took a while. Each time I struggled for breath, part of me wanted to give up. I didn’t think I could make it. And then, with hope dwindling, a voice spoke inside my head. It was my friend, the turtle.

"The turtle said to me: ‘Mitch, you can do it…keep going, old buddy.’ Yes, the turtle’s voice gave me strength. Eventually I reached shore, and we were safe."

When asked for further details, Mitch said, "I didn’t actually see the turtle…I just thought I heard it. Maybe it was my imagination—due to lack of oxygen, that sort of thing."

Investigative Report: Hard-hitting News Reporter that I am, I decided to launch a full-scale investigation into Mitch’s boating abilities. His remark that overturning his rowboat "had never happened before" just didn’t sound right. Something was fishy (actually, ‘turtle-ly’), I thought.

After grilling witnesses and then some steaks, I was able to reach these conclusions: Alcohol was not a factor, and no neighbor of Mitch’s will ever go out in his rowboat with him again. "I’m a rowboat-outcast," said a saddened Mitch.

In an effort to redeem his Captainship, Mr. Mullins has adopted a new nickname.

"I am henceforth to be known as ‘Bring ‘Em Back Alive’ Mitch."

Unless you are a turtle…

TURTLE TRAGEDY! Rescue Attempts Fail Big-Time

With almost a hundred Milwaukee Firefighters’ and Paramedics’ families attending a week-long Camp Outing at a local campground—perhaps the safest contingent of people one could ask for—tragedy still struck.

"To lose a life, be it man or beast, well…it haunts you," said the Firefighter involved (name withheld—Scoop).

The tragedy occurred when the Fireman’s young son accidentally dropped his pet turtle down the toilet of their RV while he was flushing. "He didn’t mention it until I was at the dump station later and things got clogged up," said the boy’s father. "I was probably cursing—under my breath, of course—when he asked if ‘Tony the Turtle’ was still alive. Then I understood. I tried to get ‘Tony’ out of the drain-tube alive, but when I fished him out with a coathanger, he wasn’t breathing."

The Firefighter immediately summoned the Paramedics. "There were several waiting in line for the dump station, and I called them over. I requested mouth-to-mouth on the turtle…my son was frantic."

His request was rejected. Said one Paramedic: "He knows mouth-to-mouth…let him do it. It was his kid’s pet. And just look at that sludge on its snout, to put it politely."

‘Tony the Turtle’ was given a proper burial, all things considered.


In honor of Cap’t Mitch’s daring rescue, I am once again promoting a contest. The winner will receive a $10 Gift Certificate from Dave’s Milton Ace Hardware, a fine establishment. Dave is a generous man, but he doesn’t have to be: no one actually ever enters my contests. So here’s your chance to be a winner!

Name the movie and at least one of the stars in it. The winner will be the one who names the most stars; in the event of a tie, winner chosen by drawing. You can send your answer on a postcard to Scoop c/o The Milton Courier, 513 Vernal Ave., Milton, WI 53563, or e-mail me from .

And now, the Clue: In a scene from this movie, three of the top stars are set adrift, shackled, to die at sea in a rowboat. When all seems hopeless, the brainy one concocts a rescue plan: He deliberately overturns the rowboat, and the passengers ‘walk’ the boat to shore, breathing the air trapped inside.

This is a movie from the 40s-60s, and featured a major star. That is all the clues you get, and good luck to all! The contest ends August 18th. The winner will be announced in the final 2002 Camper’s Courier coming out this Labor Day.


Many people who camp have school-age children. Many school-age children ride the school bus. Thus, we can infer that this is a camping-related issue, right? I agree, so let me tell you why I am spending valuable column space defending my friend, Mrs. ‘T.J.’.

‘TJ’ is a school bus driver who lives south of Chicago. One recent Saturday she drove her daughter and the rest of the soccer team to a match near Madison. During half-time, still in need of a birthday gift for her husband John, she drove the empty bus to a store best explained as ‘Leather & Lace’, whereupon she examined many items, but bought none. "I do my best shopping during soccer half-time," explained ‘TJ’. "Let’s face it, I have a large family, and John is always working side-jobs on weekends, so it’s hard to plan things. So I keep notes while driving the bus, and swing over to a store when I’m back in the neighborhood."

Upon further investigation, this reporter learned that no objects were purchased at ‘Leather & Lace’. "I already have most of that stuff," said ‘TJ’. "I was mainly looking for studded collars…for our dogs, you know…"

Thank you, ‘TJ’, for that time-saving Tip. I’m sure many of our local school bus drivers will use it, and, hey, you ‘Meals On Wheels’ vans for the elderly, take a few passengers to ‘Naughty But Nice’ in Beloit. They’ll love you for it!


Once again the irascible Jimmy Barnes surfaces in my column. As a reputable reporter I simply must warn you of his latest scam!

Recently a particular campground featured psychic Susan Haas. Her sessions were held in a private corner of the campground bar. Resting his elbows at the friendly saloon, among others, was the inscrutable Jimmy Barnes, the Leprechaun of Laughter, the Titan Of Trouble, and, indeed, the Master of Disaster. After all, Jimmy Barnes is the man who had a clogged toilet, plunged it, saw sewage shoot to the ceiling, and then looked down into the toilet as he plunged it again. Need I say more?

But Jimmy is always thinking…a trait he has developed that often deceives we lesser-minded mortals. For instance, there he is, at the saloon, watching people pay a psychic to tell them what the future holds. After 3 beers, Jimmy had a bold idea.

"I thought I could make a lot of dough here, " Jimmy confessed later. "You know…’Jimmy Barnes, Male Psychic’. I even had a special deal: a dollar a minute, or 5" for $4.95. That was for Guys; for Ladies I would knock a buck off, a really killer deal."

Jimmy’s plan went astray when he asked several women sharing a pitcher of beer at a table to give him a dollar each. "I figured a big discount at the beginning would lure them in," said Jimmy. They obliged, and Jimmy caressed the first woman’s hand. He gazed into her eyes and said, "I see you are a woman…" Pocketing her dollar, he turned to the next victim. Concentrating deeply, Jimmy told her: "The beer you are drinking is…Miller Lite!"

Since Lite is the only beer on tap, the woman was not impressed. But Jimmy did not give up. "I see in your future…a hangover," he told her gravely.

All of the Ladies demanded their money back. But Jimmy is not discouraged. "I’m thinking of taking this on the road," he said. "I’ll call it the ‘Jimmy Barnes Traveling Psychic Show’. "

Good friend Ted Skora had this to say: "If he remembers to put gas in his golf cart, he might make a few bucks…"



Mr. Tim Briggs, once a frequent guest in this column, has been out of the news lately. That has changed, and for once, alcohol was not a factor.

After a visit from the ‘Honey Wagon’, Tim noticed that his grey-water hose was slightly loose. "I wanted to snug it up," said Tim, who had to crawl under one of the RV’s slide-outs to reach it. "It was tight conditions under there, and I reached out for something to hold on to while I twisted around for leverage."

What Tim grabbed was the handle on the sewage gate-valve. "I was trying to attach the hose to the gate-valve when I accidentally pulled the handle out," explained Tim. "My face was mere inches away when I heard this gurgling sound…it was too late to duck out of the way."

Deluged by residue, Tim quickly scurried to safety. "I had to claw toilet paper out of my eyes," he said. "Next time, I’m wearing swimming goggles."

A nearby spectator to the incident had this to say: "It’s the first time I’ve seen Tim s***-faced without a beer in his hands."


In another bizarre turtle incident, Marv Powell, heir to the title of ‘hardest-working man in the camping business’, went to the rescue of camper Audra Johnson when she and her family were stalked by a deadly snapping turtle.

"We have a site on Clear Lake," said a nervous Audra, "but we were afraid for our lives to go swimming. This giant turtle was circling about, and it looked hungry. And then it came on land, step-by-step towards us! My husband Eric managed to divert it into a big bucket, but then we didn’t know what to do."

After receiving the emergency call from the campground office, Marv came to the rescue. "I got the bucket in the back of my pickup truck and stacked 2x4s and big riding-lawnmower tires over the top of it. But the turtle would not give up…twice it shoved all of this weight out of the way and clawed its way out. The beast was as big as a Thanksgiving Day turkey platter."

Each time, Marv got the behometh back in the bucket. The third time took more effort. "I was turning a corner and everything slid out. I used one of the 2x4s to prod it back into the bucket and hefted it back into the truck while the monster stared me right in the eyes. I didn’t dare look away for a moment."

Marv had planned to put the big snapper in one of the other campground lakes, probably the one by Mitch Mullins, but Audra asked that it be placed back in Clear Lake. "At the other end," said Audra. "Marv warned me that it would come back, but I insisted…to my regret!"

It was a mere two days later when Audra flagged Marv down. "The stalking snapper was back, waiting for us, looking meaner than ever," said Audra. "And it had friends with it…an entire ‘floatoon’ of snappers."

Marv will come to the rescue again when the ‘floatoon’ hits shore. In the meantime, Marv has advised Audra to contact Mitch Mullins, the ‘Turtle-Whisperer’, in the hope this will speed things up.


Camper Chuck Curran recently purchased a home in Florida from ‘Coastal Property Specialists’ Realtors Ed and Kathy Stawski. "Chuck and I have Summer sites at the same Campground here in Milton," said Ed, "so it was a very friendly business deal. But little did I realize the problems that would follow the closing."

Chuck’s new home has a beautiful swimming pool, but apparently Chuck wanted more. "The house right next door has a solar-heated pool. I thought maybe I might want to upgrade to that kind of heating system, so I snuck over. I didn’t think anyone was home…"

Chuck was leisurely basking in the stranger’s pool when two women appeared at the patio door. "They wanted to know what I was doing in the pool," said Chuck. "They were of foreign persuasion, so I assumed they were maids. All I did was ask them if they would clean my house once a week."

Chuck’s politically-incorrect assumption got him into some hot water. The women were quite-wealthy upper-strata friends of the neighbor, and had stopped by to check on the house. "What’s next—Chuck wants to use the bathroom?" said one. "Who is this man? And I don’t even think he was wearing a bathing suit…the nerve!"

Chuck fled to the safety of his own abode, apologizing all the way. "I think I’ll have to send flowers, or something," he said. "The thing is, I really wanted to check out their Jacuzzi…maybe sneak out a tiny fart bubble and check the currents."


And that’s about it, Folks, except that I need to mention that Ed Stawski did indeed bribe me to include his web site in this column. You can do the same…the price is two martinis. But I must warn you—failure to pay your debt may result in dire consequences.

I got snapping turtles at the ready, and photos of Chuck in the pool, maybe without swimming trunks. You’ll never know what shows up at your door…pray it’s the turtle.


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Many innocent--and guilty!--people have had their unfortunate stories told in my tales, and I thank them all! If you're new to this site, you may want to take a quick beginner's course. Here we go:

Jimmy Barnes 

My #1 source of stories! Jimmy always comes through with a tale of woe, even when he swears not to get in to trouble! Jimmy is the retired Chicago Firefighter who almost burned down his own Station while cooking ribs out back. He has also nearly drowned while being nibbled by bluegills, attacked by a giant rat, and had a toilet explode in his face as he peered down. Luckily, it was not 'loaded'.

The Vulture

Carol Okerstrom taunted me all last winter as I tried to liven things up with a Trivia Contest. Apparently she has too much time on her hands at work, as she relentlessly researched the Internet, sometimes sending answers only seconds after I had posted the questions. She also attacked the validity of my 'Mrs. Finstermocker' tie-breaker question, which led to a heated debate that questioned my honesty!

Mrs. Scoop

My life would be empty without her! Mrs. Scoop wisely keeps me in check in all ways. Most importantly to you, she proofs my columns. This is why I rarely get sued. She is beautiful, intelligent,  and a tigress. What a great combination! The only drawback is that I tend to show up at work with claw-marks all over my body--a price I gladly pay.

Scoop Jr. 

Here's a guy who has lived life to the fullest, and I envy him. It's sad when your son can out-match your stories. Then again, I can say I trained him well! He is tall, dark, and handsome, and presently lives in California. He needs to visit more often, but the allure of beaches and bikinis is strong.

  'The Chief'

Doug is the Editor of The Milton Courier, and gave me my first 'paid' writing job. My articles get published in the summer editions of 'The Camper's Courier', which is a free publication that has lots of info and ads from local places. My 'pay' is I get to go to the Christmas Party each year. This is where I get revenge! According to my loose estimates--and I say 'loose' because I love to indulge and thus have CRS--I am way ahead, considering the steaks, lobsters, and cocktails. I thank Doug and the staff of The Courier, and hope this great relationship continues as long as I shall live!

Uncle Hank

He co-signed for my first car loan way back when in Chicago, which at that time was a big risk for him. I eventually paid off the loan, and now that he's up here in Wisconsin, we get to hang out, drink cocktails, and golf. He's pretty agile and good at golf for a retired guy. And handsome...not that I'd want to see him naked, or anything like that.

more characters to come..!