One man’s search for a giant turtle head

Let’s see what MPR’s senior vice president of Friday has sent over for us in the interoffice mail:

Gino Salomone, of Wisconsin, has a thing for giant fiberglass turtle heads, specifically the one that covered a restaurant he used to know in Milwaukee when he was 12.

He has wondered whatever became of it?

The location of the former Mr. Sea seafood restaurant is a cellphone store now, but Salomone, who works in the radio business, of course, wanted to find the giant turtle head.

Radio, my friends, is a medium of magic. When Salomone mentioned his obsession on the radio, voila! One turtle head, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Stingl writes today.

Michele Stroncek heard Gino on the radio and said her uncles had saved the head of what she always thought was a giant snail. But it appears identical to the Mr. Sea turtle featured in its newspaper ads, right to the tip of its silver top hat. The shell and the feet that once hung over the edge of the roof apparently were destroyed or recycled.

One uncle, Earl Dobrinska, used to work for the Milwaukee Public Schools Recreation Division, which came into possession of the turtle head — which Earl called Jiminy Cricket — after Mr. Sea closed. As the story goes, he was instructed to destroy it but wound up giving it to Michele’s other uncle, Ray Sagan.

Ray had a farm along S. 13th St. in Oak Creek, and he hung the turtle head from an apple tree sometime in the 1970s. It became a popular photo op, and Ray turned down an offer from a Minnesota pest control company to buy the turtle.

The turtle now sticks out from the back of a barn near Racine, Wis., and this week Gino got to visit his boyhood pal.

And now, thanks to Stingl, we have a new obsession. What pest control company in Minnesota wanted to use the giant turtle, and, my goodness, why?