BERT THE TURTLE: There are other ways you can learn to duck and cover in case of danger.
PATSY: Like the things our teacher told us to do in case of an atom bomb?
BERT THE TURTLE: That's right, the atom bomb is a new danger in our lives. It can surprise us at any time.
Dialog from BERT THE TURTLE, a Children's Dramatic Program, 1951
BERT THE TURTLE was a 14 minute radio program produced by the Federal Civil Defense Administration that had no involvement from Archer Productions, Inc., the producers of DUCK AND COVER, the motion picture.
The program is a footnote to the DUCK AND COVER legend in somewhat the same way the little seen THE STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL is for STAR WARS fanatics. As with the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL, BERT THE TURTLE is a disappointing attempt to replicate the energy of an original entertainment product.
Because of copyright issues (one assumes) the most essential element of DUCK AND COVER is not used in BERT THE TURTLE: The song. Instead a slide whistle and an organ are used to punctuate Bert's frequent use of the phrase "duck and cover."
Also absent from the original work is the "capricious" monkey with a fondness for fireworks who torments Bert (was the monkey holding out for more money?). In the monkey's place is "Farmer Jim" who has a penchant for shaking the apple tree that Bert likes to slumber under. In the story Bert has to "duck and cover" into his shell in order to avoid a rain of apples. Equating firecrackers to an atomic bomb was a bit of a stretch in the original Bert vehicle. Apples are even less convincing.
The rest of the program is occupied by Bert playing "duck and cover" in a park with two grade school kids named Patsy and Jimmy which, from today's perspective, sounds like a chargeable offense. But remember, this was 1951.
At one point one of the kids says excitedly, "Let's pretend an atomic bomb has exploded!" What fun.
One of the few interesting things about the radio version is to hear the audio evidence that Archer somehow forced the government to include a reference to Bert being a copyrighted character of their company. There is even a plug for Bert's movie! Who said product placement was a recent phenomenon?
SELECTED AUDIO EXCERPTS
Introduction: Hey boys and girls | Your clothes give you some cover | If everything goes alright | Don't get excited: End Credits
Introduction: Hey boys and girls | Your clothes give you some cover |
If everything goes alright | Don't get excited: End Credits
On April 13, 1952, in the category of "Children's (out-of-school listening)," the FCDA's Audio-Visual Division was issued an award "in recognition of outstanding educational value and distinguished radio production" for BERT THE TURTLE. The award was presented by the Institute for Education by Radio-Television, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.