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Are you a Turtle?



What better way to celebrate World Turtle Day than with a short article on the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles.

The what?

Its ok. You've not gone mad.

The Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles was born during WWII by US Army Air Corps pilots stationed in England.

Inspired by service club plaques seen in English pubs during the 1940s Captain Hugh P. McGowen decided to have a bit of fun and formed his own organisation complete with its own initiation, secret handshake, and password.

Captain McGowen is quoted as saying: "Between flying daytime bombing missions over Hitler's Third Reich we wanted a little fun. We had seen a sign showing that the 'Ancient Order of Foresters' and the 'Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes' would meet in the local pub, so I devised the name 'Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles' for the fun of it.

"It was not meant to be serious, it had no constitution or by-laws, and was a relief from the horrors and dangers we saw every day on our missions.

"It spread after the War through the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) and American Legion posts, and eventually, to other groups, colleges and even to the high schools of the U.S.A."

Being an organisation whose mission was to have as much fun as possible, and being based in a pub, it's no surprise the Ancient and Honorable Society of Turtles became a very popular way for Air Corps pilots and other military personnel to pass the time and, as is often the way with these things, joining the Order quickly transitioned from being a game to being a 'tradition'.

Over the past 75-years Ponds, as groups of Turtles are called, have appeared all over the world.

So who can become a Turtle?

In short, anyone.

Regardless of your race, religion, political affiliation, gender, or financial standing, everyone is welcome as a member of the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles.

The Order's mantra is to simply have fun. And that's it. Although like all societies worth their salt one does have to pass an initiation before membership is granted. And in true Turtle style even the initiation is a fun game.

All you have to do to become a Turtle is prove you are "pure-minded" by answering four dirty sounding riddles with clean answers. And that's it. Below are examples of four such riddles.

Riddle 1: What does a man do standing up, a woman sitting down and a dog on three legs?

Riddle 2: What is it that a cow has four of and a woman only has two of?

Riddle 3: What is a four letter word ending in K that means the same as intercourse?

Riddle 4: What is it on a man that is round and hard and sticks so far out of his pajamas you can hang a hat on it?

On passing your initiation you are then a fully invested member of the Ancient and Honorable Society of Turtles, which means you should probably hit your nearest watering hole and celebrate with your favourite libation.

Once you become a member you'll be taught the secret handshake (of course there's a secret handshake) and the password so that you can recognise your fellow Turtles. If you are then asked if you are a Turtle by a fellow Turtle and you fail to respond with the password you buy the next round.

President John F Kennedy was allegedly asked if he was a Turtle during a press conference, to which he replied: "I'll buy you your drink later."

So how do you join? I hear you cry.

If you come face-to-face with a Turtle they can initiate you in the wild. There are never any costs involved, with the exception of getting the beers in when it's your round.

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