Claude Walker | Bicentennial-By-Buttons

Thanks to his mother's artistry, his uncles' way with tools and Choc's inventiveness, Paul Turtle was an innovative builder.  Not all of his efforts were for military use.

His aqueducts were tools of growth and diplomacy, his Dream Canoe survived a waterspout and he invented a mangrove kayak to elude pirates.

Stickball racquet   "Paul enjoyed stickball and displayed jaw-dropping flicks of the wrist on the playing field. Uncle Fixico helped him create a stickball racquet that others envied: soaked in water, shaped around a log, then painstakingly stitched under Niilhaasi's loving eye. A masterpiece of willow, cypress and rawhide."

Aqueducts  "Paul's ingenuity glowed during the epic Drought of 1821. Years before, Choc had devised a pumping system operated by human foot-power. Two people would sit in chair-like contraption and pedal, powering a pulley system. Water would be slowly drawn from the freshwater lake to a pine tank on stilts above the lake, then flow down a bamboo aqueduct. Sluice gates would enable the water flow to be directed to various sites along the aqueduct...

"After a few failed prototypes, Paul and Fixico built the pump and aqueduct, and irrigated parched beanfields far from the lake. This hydro-hydraulic enabled the village to farm year-round. It boosted development, population and Paul's standing."

"...Tensions between the Seminoles and Mascogos in Mexico were rising to a boil. Paul and Kundiata were called upon to act as mediators. Using their humor and bilingual skills, they brokered a three-way deal which would recruit more Mascogos for military operations and boost trade for everyone. Paul even agreed to design and supervise construction of a massive aqueduct system to irrigate arid fields."

Dream Canoe  "Paul had been thinking about this Dream Canoe for some time. It would be sleek yet stable, sturdy yet swift. He already had a design in mind. When he heard the cry of a hawk to the east, he spotted the perfect cypress. He grabbed the ax he had toted along for exactly this purpose and went to work.

"He brought the tree down, shaped a 15-foot hull, carved out a cockpit, and fashioned a paddle and a pole. He customized it with a thatch-covered cabin, tiny stove and watertight hold. He invented a seat with a back that could move from an upright position to prone. He attached an anchor, a rudder and small mast affixed with a piece of canvas that had washed ashore. He carved Kundiata on the side, packed provisions and headed swamp-wise."

Mangrove kayak  "The fresh water well on the north end was well-known to gun-runners and pirates, who would show up every few weeks. To hide the group from intruders more quickly (and kill time), Paul decided to build a flotilla of dugouts tailored to mangrove travel. He designed a craft that was short, low in the water and maneuverable. He shortened the paddle and put a blade on both ends. He taught every Fugitive how to paddle swiftly and quietly."




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