Dear Ms. feet,

I recently heard a rumor that Ila Loetscher, better known as "The Turtle Lady", has left town. What has happened to the turtles? And what about the Tues. & Sat. shows? Are they still happening?

I'm glad you asked, because big changes are occurring in SeaTurtleland right now. Very soon, Sea Turtle Inc. as we know it will no longer exist - it must either evolve into something new or disappear.

First of all, the turtles are being well-cared for and the shows are still taking place on schedule thanks to dedicated volunteers like Mary Laddis and Jeff George. Ila is also being well-cared for in Brownsville; at 92 she is simply no longer capable of living by herself, though she has expressed a desire to stay in the Valley.

Sea Turtle Inc. is experiencing more serious problems. Ila's family has had her house appraised and it will probably go on the market soon, leaving the resident population of sea turtles - and Sea turtle Inc. - homeless. According to Jeff George, plans for the SPI Nature Center - which was to house Sea Turtle Inc. as well as other nature and conservation organizations - have pretty much come to a halt, due to the fact that no has come forward with an offer to donate a piece of land large enough for the facility.

I think nearly everyone would agree that it would be a real shame for Ila's legacy to disappear with her. Sea Turtle Inc. has offered the public the rare opportunity to get "up close and personal" with an endangered species for several decades now, and Ila certainly attracted a lot of positive media attention for the Island. Now it is time for the Island to give something back - in honor of that plucky little old lady who subjected herself to the David Letterman treatment for the sake of her fine-flippered friends.

Right now you can show your support by stopping by to see the turtles Tues. & Sat. at 10 AM (weather permitting - it's an outdoor show) at 5805 Gulf Blvd. Donations are $2 for adults, $1 for kids with those 5 years and younger free.... and don't forget to load up on T-shirts and other turtle stuff while you are there - proceeds help keep STI going. Call 761-7414 or 761-1654 for information on special shows for school or scout groups.

Sea Turtle Inc. would like to remind everyone that this is the season of blue northers, and anytime the weather turns cold, beach walkers should be on the alert for cold-shocked turtles. If you see one on shore, do NOT touch or handle it but immediately call 911 or the Coastal Studies Lab and let the experts take over.


Dear Sandy Feet,

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to attend Balde & Renetta's (better known as Toby Beau's) 8th Annual White Elephant Christmas party. Could you fill me in on any of the juicier details?

With pleasure! First, for the uninitiated, this is how the party works: You show up with a wrapped gift. This gift can be something nearly everyone present will want (a bottle of Crown Royal, a set of bar gizmos, a giant stuffed gorilla); a present a few people will want very badly (a wooden pitchfork, a lace teddy, a cow skull, handcuffs & assorted "body massagers"); and presents almost no one wants (garden variety T-Shirts, a plastic rain poncho, a Beavis & Butthead Ensucklypedia calendar).

Then you pick a number. Unlucky #1 approaches the Christmas tree, picks out an interesting -looking package and opens it in front of the group. Now, #2 has a choice: steal #1's present or take his/her chances with the tree.

If someone steals your gift, you can steal someone else's, setting off a chain reaction of gift thefts that stops only when MC Rudy notices 30 seconds are up and calls time. Whoever doesn't have a gift must once again approach the tree.

This was my first White Elephant party and I must say I was amazed at the grace and agility with which these multiple gift thefts were accomplished. The highlight was little Debbie Johnson making a down-to-the-wire, hail mary dive for the coveted "horoscope clock." She dove, grabbed, rolled and popped back up again - flushed with victory - looking for all the world like she'd been doing the wide receiver thing all her life.

All in all it was a great party and I really had fun - even if I did draw a low number and had to watch all the action from the sidelines. And I guess I'll figure out something to do with that Beavis & Butthead calendar -- something like wrap it up and bring it back next year, maybe....




Feeling a bit under the weather? Before you drag yourself to the doctor's office, you might want to stop by the globalmedic for an on-line checkup. No proof of insurance required.


What can we expect of 1997? The Dragon's head is in Virgo and its tail in Pisces...What does it mean? Take a look at Dr. Turi's 1997 Universal Predictions

I looked for the Turtle Lady on the web and she just isn't there (though one of her turtles is). I personally will be working to remedy this sad state of affairs in the very near future. I would love to hear from anyone who has any nice pictures of Ila and/or turtles -- or a good story to tell about her.... sf

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: ( Visit my web-site ( for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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