Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Dick “Two Ton” Baker, “Bert The Turtle”

Jim assigned us the task of coming up with a song about amphibians, or maybe it’s reptiles: "Alligator/Crocodile/Lizard/Snake/Turtle." And naturally, the song I have in mind is dear to my heart, for a couple of reasons. First, it features one of my favorite singers from the Chicago area, Dick "Two Ton" Baker, who was a radio and TV personality, a singer and songwriter who wrote humorous songs for both adults and children, and a pretty decent piano player to boot. Second, the song has to do with Civil Defense, the people who were in part responsible for CONELRAD and the closely-related Emergency Broadcast System, which terrified me no end when I was a kid, and as I’ve learned terrified other kids as well. I’ll let you read what I wrote about it during the 2017 A to Z Challenge.

In the Fifties and the early Sixties, schools used to have "duck and cover" drills to be sure that students understood what to do in the event the Russians dropped an atomic bomb on us. There was a film called "Duck And Cover" made in 1952 by the Office of Civil Defense that taught kids (and grownups) what to do in that case. The star of the movie was a cartoon character named Bert The Turtle, and the theme song was "Bert The Turtle," written by Leon Carr, Leo Corday, and Leo Langlois. Two Ton Baker released the song as a single in 1953.

I got the lyrics from another version of the video:

There was a turtle by the name of Bert
And Bert the Turtle was very alert
When danger threatened him he never got hurt
He knew just what to do

He’d duck and cover, duck and cover
He’d hide his head and tail and four little feet
He’d duck and cover!

He hid beneath his little shell until the coast was clear
Then one by one his head and tail and legs would reappear
By acting calm and cool he proved he was a hero, too
For finding safety is the bravest wisest thing to do

And now his little friends are just like Bert
And every turtle is very alert
When danger threatens them they never get hurt
They know just what to do

They duck and cover, duck and cover
They hide their heads and tails and four little feet
They duck and cover!

He hid beneath his little shell until the coast was clear
Then one by one his head and tail and legs would reappear
By acting calm and cool he proved he was a hero, too
For finding safety is the bravest wisest thing to do

And now his little friends are just like Bert
And every turtle is very alert
When danger threatens them they never get hurt
They know just what to do

They duck and cover, duck and cover
They hide their heads and tails and four little feet
They duck and cover!
They duck, duck, duck, duck, duck, and cover

And that’s Song Lyric Sunday, and Song of the Day, for December 6, 2020.

21 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday/Song of the Day: Dick “Two Ton” Baker, “Bert The Turtle”

  1. Sounds sort like a polka. Interesting song. I remember only one drill to duck and cover. I was in 3rd grade so it would’ve been 1972 I guess. We only ever had the one. That is how traumatizing it was because I remember to this day.

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  2. I missed the duck-and-cover drills by a few years, too. We were still taught what to do if the town siren went off in an up-and-down tone, as opposed to the steady tone of a tornado warning. I always looked for the “Fallout Shelter” and “Civil Defense” signs when out and about. I would have made Bert proud, I think. Ed the Emerald Spotted Treefrog? Nah, never mind.

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    1. Our church had, from all witness accounts, an enormous fallout shelter under it that could hold about 700 people. At least that’s what it said on the sign pointing you there. Funny thing was, the nuns never made a big deal out of it. I had to ask my parents about it.

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  3. Oh! I remember this , I can totally understand why children would be scared in those days. I am not sure that Ducking under your school desk, or anything else, and Covering your head in the event of a nuclear attack would be of any use….. Except giving you something to do? ๐Ÿ’œ

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