Happy Anniversary, Murphy! August 23, 2018


Many people visit the Bedford Free Public Library to borrow a book, a dvd, one of our new robots or to attend a program, but one of the major reasons for visiting the library’s Children’s Room is to say, “Hello” to Murphy the turtle.  We suspect that two of the first words many young library visitors say are a variation of “Murphy” and/or “turtle.” He isn’t very big, size-wise, but his influence is immense.

Murphy arrived at the Bedford Free Public Library on this day, August 23, in  2011. Murphy is a Southern Painted turtle, normally found in Arkansas and Louisiana. He is 10 years old.  Sharon McDonald, Bedford’s longtime Children’s librarian, facilitated Murphy’s arrival. Although retired now, Ms.McDonald often visits her favorite reptile, bringing songs, shrimp and good cheer.

He doesn’t ask for anything, expect anything, or say anything, but accepts all visitors of any age, just as they are. Murphy has been known to calm upset children, generate grins or squeals of delight and inspire poetry and art.

This summer, one of our reading  “challenges” included singing to or composing a song for our dear friend.   Murphy’s favorite song is “Happy Birthday,” which he heard many times this summer.

“Letters to Murphy,” an ongoing collection of reflections and drawings about Murphy, provides a glimpse of our beloved reptile.

Here are some examples from “Letters to Murphy.”  Spelling and punctuation are original. 

Three poems:

“Murphey, The Lucky Turtle”

Murphey the Turtle,

Oh how hes so lucky,

Gets to swim around all day

Aloud to always play.

It must be fun to be a turtle.

Even if its a bit of a hurtle.


M  arine animal

U  nder the water

R  esting on rocks

P ainted turtle

H iding head

Y ou are so huggable!  

Because you are Murphy the painted turtle


Murphy the turtle likes to eat fish

He likes to swim in his tank

If he was in a contest he would rank…


Murphy gets a lot of love

And he is as pretty as a dove

Murphy is kind

And probably doesn’t eat watermelon rind

This is the end of my poem about this amazing creature

He sure does have cool features!


Thank you, Murphy, for help in Drama Diapers!


A joke for Murphy:

A turtle and a tortise were talking.  The tortise said “What’s a turtle’s favorite room?”

Turtle: I don’t know.

Tortise: A mushroom


“Dear Murphy, You are the onle and only Pet Turtle I have seen in my life.”


Dear Murphy, I wonder what it is like to be a turttle…Ever wondered what it is like being a human?  It is hard being a human so your a luky duck!”


He gets lots of compliments.  “You are fintastic.” “Your cute.”  


“Hi, Murphy, I love you so much I have a turtle flote at home named Murphy after you.


Murphy is a great listener and even a terrapinish therapist at times.  “Dear Murphy, Sometimes I just feel like turning into a turtle. It makes me feel better when I get in trouble and want to run away to a pond.”


“I like going to the library to see you.”  “I like how you swim on hot days.” “Is that your house, Murphy?  I live in a gray house.”


Many notes concur that Murphy is well-loved and the “best turtle in the world” or “best turtle ever.”  


Some express concern that Murphy might be bored or lonely.  “Do you like to swim around? (accompanied by a sad-faced square and happy-faced square for Murphy to select a response)


“Do you like when children come to visit you?  


One newsy letter described a day at the beach and the discovery of a “giant tide pool with around 10 hermit crabs”  and then finding another near a picnic blanket. The correspondent assured Murphy, “If you need a hermit crab tell me. I can get one for you next time I go to the beach.”


Upon seeing two Valentines attached to Murphy’s tank, a little girl smiled, “Now Murphy has love, too.”


Most of Murphy’s fans would agree “Murphy is a Magic Turtle.”

If you want to see the beautiful portraits of Murphy,  read additional tributes and meet the real Murphy, please visit the Bedford Free Public Library’s Children’s Room.

Happy Anniversary, dear Murphy, and many more!  

Author: Bedford Free Public Library