A Different ‘Turtle Time’
While Fort Myers Beach is well-known for protecting our nesting sea turtles, as you will read in a separate article in this issue of The Island Sand Paper, the Shamp Family recently rescued a unique type of beach turtle!
“My husband Dan recently read the article in The Island Sand Paper about the June 25 Fort Myers Beach Public Library Meeting that stated their beautiful sea turtle statue was a vandalism victim,” Joanne Shamp, a Fort Myers Beach council member said. “Since the estimated repair was $4,000 to $6,000 the Library Board felt they could not replace it. Dan took it upon himself to go to the FMB Library to see if we could help. I knew nothing about this as I flew up to Ohio to pick up our two grandsons, Tyler, who is 13, and 10-year-old Logan, for their annual summer vacation visit with us. Part of their trip here is we always do a community project together, so when we got home and Dan showed them what he had in the back of the car, they were totally enthusiastic and all about it! We also do a separate trip with their sister, our 15-year-old granddaughter, Alexa.”
“While Joanne was traveling to Ohio, I got together with Beach Library Director Cletus Poser to examine the turtle statue,” Dan explained, “to see if it was doable and if the family had the skills to perform the repairs. I felt we could, so we loaded it into the back of my vehicle. When Joanne arrived home with Tyler and Logan, I said, ‘wait until you see what I have in the car,’ and when they saw it, their eyeballs got real wide!”
Joanne and Dan teach their grandchildren to give back to their community, whether it is where they actually live or just visit several times each year, like Fort Myers Beach. “Previously, when they were here, they did things like the ‘Hands Across America’ event and took part in the water quality gathering on the Fort Myers Beach Pier, even painting handmade posters on clean water awareness,” Joanne related. “One activity was an early morning beach walk with ‘Turtle Time,’ to look for new sea turtle nests to protect these priceless creatures, so this project was perfect.”
“He Looks Happier!”
The Beach Library security video shows that two as-yet-unidentified vandals broke off and took the turtle’s head. Perhaps in a display of remorse, they anonymously returned it to the Library property, and that is what made the Shamp Family repair possible. “The statue is made up of materials like fiberglass and nylon and Kevlar,” Dan explained “and we have extensive experience in working with those from our former professional careers in the medical prosthetic business. Our oldest son, Mark, who co-owns Shamp Bionics with his wife, Jessica, and are the parents of the three kids, sent us the materials.”
Dan, Tyler and Logan mixed those together with liquid resin, he explained, “to create a polyester resin paste that we could thicken as necessary. It is like a million microscopic balloons mixed together that is similar to bondo you use to repair your car. To reattach the head, we flipped the turtle statue over and epoxied the pieces back into place, one at a time. Then the boys and us would go to the pool or beach or do something else while that dried, then came back and worked on another piece. We took our time, as we were in no hurry, though we did set a deadline of Wednesday, July 24, to return the turtle in time for the Library’s ‘Christmas In July’ celebration the following day.”
The turtle restoration actually played into the individual strengths of the four Shamps. “It turns out by accident we were the perfect team for this,” reflected Joanne. “Dan knew the materials, Logan likes to do puzzles and putting the individual pieces back into place was just like assembling a puzzle. When he visits, I always lay out a puzzle and we put in a few pieces from time-to-time all day long. Tyler is an artist, so painting the turtle was natural for him. And I,” she said with a huge smile, “supervised, for in a project like this, we all know supervision is the key, along with making sure everyone always had enough fresh lemonade! The most gratifying thing is we all contributed our talents, while feeling good about the effort and outcome. Tyler and Logan never complained, not once, when it was time to work on the turtle; if fact, they couldn’t wait to get back at it!”
Tyler’s paint job brought about a pleasant surprise: “Tyler is a really good artist,” stated Joanne. “After the restoration work, I took out my acrylic paint equipment and we chose the appropriate colors and correct brushes, then Tyler repainted the turtle’s head and face, patiently in layers, often at just two to three brushstrokes at a time. While we did not rework the turtle’s facial expression at all, he actually looks happier now, probably due to the tone of the paints. Coincidentally and independently of us, when we returned the statue, Maria van Boekel of the Library staff took one look at it and exclaimed, ‘he looks happier!’”
“There was an actual buzz around the Library building when we returned the statue,” added Dan. “You could tell the staff were overjoyed to have the turtle back and whole. Maria as thanks gave the boys two 1950s vintage drawing books that they put in their backpacks when they returned to Ohio last weekend.”
Cool Kids & Dirty Socks
While the outcome is happy, Joanne is still mystified by the original crime: “Why would someone vandalize something of no apparent monetary value, that only brings joy to our community and especially our children? When you see a situation like this, you can either get upset about it and do nothing, or see if you can positively contribute to the solution, so we did what we did. If there is anything positive about the initial crime, perhaps those people truly felt some remorse, and that is why they returned the turtle head.” “That was crucial,” agreed Dan. “Without the original head to reattach, we would not have been able to repair the statue, no matter how good our intentions, because we would have nothing to work with except thin air.”
The Shamps said that Tyler and Logan visit the Beach Library every time they visit so it is part of their Fort Myers Beach life experience, making them happy and proud to help restore the statue.” “They are cool kids,” Grandpa Dan said with obvious pride! “It is interesting when you do projects like this with your grandchildren compared to your children,” noted Joanne. “With your kids, you see the good and bad every day, but as grandparents, you have more of a big picture view.” “You realize there are more important things than just telling them time-and-again to pick up their dirty socks,” laughed Dan!
“It is gratifying when you see them, at ages 10 and 13, already starting to become emerging adults,” Joanne reflected, “with intelligence and talents and mostly goodness in them, and that they are growing up to become contributing members of society in their own right. It really gives you hope for the next generation.” “Seeing the boys enjoy themselves, with a true satisfaction in voluntarily participating in a project like this, is the most rewarding part of the entire experience for me,” Dan stated. “These are the things you build upon as you begin to make your own way through life.” “That is exactly what I thought as well,” echoed Joanne.
“We as a family are very happy to be a part of returning the statue to the Library,” Dan concluded. “The best thing for me is that, regardless of the amount of time you have in your life, you can somehow give back to your community, even if you are just visitors like Tyler and Logan. An hour here and an hour there can make a big difference, and that is what is wonderful about this Town.”
“That is what I have come to appreciate about Fort Myers Beach,” opined Joanne, “and I learned this from my almost three years now on Town Council. People come from all across America to live here, and they bring a great variety of talents from their lives in other places, so it seems like anytime we need something done, there is an expert on the island who can do it, whether it is proposing traffic solutions or developing a new Town app for the community to use or repairing a turtle statue! It goes beyond talent, however; it is in reality a giving spirit to join with us, in working together, to benefit our community as a whole!”
By Gary Mooney