Of Dads and geckos is a story about my dad and his first gecko encounter. It’s a story which I will never forget as long as I live. Warning: This article contains language that is not safe for work and may offend some people. So if you are easily offended please stop reading now. Somewhere in the months prior to the beginning of World War 2 my dad left his Kentucky home to join the Navy. A friend of his had come back on leave and told my dad stories of three meals a day, clean clothes, and the best part, free shoes!To put this all into perspective my dad was a farmer & coal miner since somewhere around grade school age when he quit school to work because the family needed the money. My dad went barefoot most of his childhood because they simply couldn’t afford shoes. We all hear the stories of our parents walking in snow barefoot to school etc. well my dad was telling the truth. He joined the Navy at the age of 17 against the wishes of my grandparents and after basic training the United States had just entered World War 2 so he was shipped out to somewhere in Pacific islands.
He arrived at his new ‘home’ and was settling in for the night when he heard something he could only liken to a ‘barking sound’. Now being from the country he knew wildlife and hunted the numerous game species available in the woods around his home his whole life. He was also aware of the reptilian fauna such as what they called black snakes Southern Black Racer (Coluber constricor priapus) which he would occasionally find in the kitchen or the hen-house. He knew the amphibians of the area by their calls as well. This however was something he’d never heard before.
Before moving on I should explain that my dad was in the group known as UDT which stands for Underwater Demolitions Team which was the precursor to the USN SEALs which we are now all familiar with.
The following conversation is what took place according to my dad. Sitting up from his bunk he asked his bunkmate “Hey shipmate, what the hell is making that racket?”
“It’s a lizard. They do that when they catch a bug.”
“Shut the hell up, what the hell is that?” My dad inquired again.
“It’s a goddamn lizard, I am telling you.”
My dad just arriving on the island and thinking his new bunkmate a comedian jumped off the top bunk grabbed his bunkmate by the T-shirt and jerked him out of his rack holding him close to his face and said.
“If you don’t stop fucking around I am going to beat you. Now, what the fuck is making that goddamn noise!”
“Boats, I am telling you it’s a fucking lizard! Let me show you.”
His bunkmate took out a flashlight and began to scan the walls of the quonset hut they were staying in. My dad was amazed to see a few lizards that were darting about the walls miraculously holding on to the metal surface of the walls. What amazed him more, well here it is in his own words.
“I will be goddamned if that fucking thing didn’t run up the wall eat a moth and bark his ass off!”
I laughed hysterically every single time my dad told that story and it never got old. He would tell it over and over again every time I asked. I still have no idea what the species was that my dad encountered that night. I do know that my appreciation and my dedication to nature comes from my ‘old man’ as he taught me so very much about the natural world through our hikes and other outdoor activities that we shared. If it wasn’t for my dad I would have never become interested in nature or the outdoors. I launched this very website you are reading today two years ago on April 5th. The reason for this is that is my dads birthday. The reason I am writing this today is because Richard E. Taylor BM1 drew his last breath today five years ago. Boats, I know you weren’t here when I published my book and most of my works regarding reptiles but you’re never far. As I said before, ‘This one is for the man who had me chasing skunks and running from the moon when I was a boy. Little did he know I hung on his every word.’ In the immortal words of a friend, I will never miss you dad, but I will remember you fondly.Want more great information like what you have seen here? Herpetoculture House