A news-wire photo that ran in papers back in January 1925.
Terrapins have brains of a human-like quality, declares Alex Barbee of Savannah, Ga., owner of "Toby," the only trained terrapin in the world. His pet is seen playing a toy piano. "Toby" does lots of other clever things.
I found some more detailed information about Toby the Talented Terrapin in a short article by Zoe Beckley that ran in the Syracuse Herald
- Aug 6, 1925:
Toby was a diamond-back terrapin of unusual gifts. He is owned by a man whose name I have forgotten, but who owns and manages what he claims is the only diamond-back terrapin farm in existence. It is in Savannah, Georgia, and Toby's father ships anything from one terrapin to a carload to any point east, west, north or south, in these United States where the delicacy of diamond-back terrapin may at that moment be desired. Also, he cans terrapin and makes them into soup.
Toby, however, has escaped this fate by virtue of the rare and great affection which exists between him and his master. He is a small terrapin, and he lived in his master's bath-tub. Each of the diamonds upon his back has been lovingly outlined in gold paint.
When Toby is taken from the bath-tub and into the parlor for the edification of visitors, he is instructed to wink his left eye, and Toby responds properly. Then he is told to cry, and up go his tiny flippers to his tinier eyes, while Toby would appear to be violently sorrowing.
But his crowning achievement is waving his flippers temperamentally over the keys of a tiny music box built to resemble a piano, on which his master has propped him. It would appear to the uninitiate that Toby was making music with all the fire of a Paderewski, albeit minus the hair and the politics. Truly, a talented terrapin.
Also found a picture of Barbee's Terrapin Farm in Streetcars of Chatham County: Photographs from the Collection of the Georgia Historical Society