PORTAGE la PRAIRIE, MB – For sixty years Maude Turner has lived in seclusion some five miles north of Portage la Prairie and has never desired the company of others.
She seldom comes to town, and when she does it’s usually to see her doctor and to load up on groceries and supplies.
Two months ago, Turner had a gaze of raccoons visit her isolated property and instead of chasing them away with a shot gun blast, Turner decided to have a chat with the nosey critters.
“I don’t know what got into me,” Turner recalled. “I don’t like them evil looking’ things but one of them was singing a song that was kind of catchy. So’s I axed him what the name of the song was?”
The raccoon who goes by the stage name of Ricky Rackin told Turner he was singing an original and offered to teach her if she was interested.
“I thought he was pulling my tail,” Turner said. “I can’t hold a note in a bucket. I says to him, if you thinks yous can teach me to sing you’re crazier than a hoot owl.”
While Turner had little confidence in her vocal abilities Ricky Rackin assured the 65-year-old bachelorette he could instruct her how to sing his song.
With two-hour lessons each night for a month, not only had Turner learned the song but she had unleashed an ability to sing naturally.
“Holy mackerel sapphire, that little bugger is quite a singer and he’s the best teacher I’ve ever had. Normally those raccoons come over, eat the dog food and then screw the cats, so this was a nice change.”
Turner discovered a new confidence and she is quickly becoming more social as a result.
“I started coming to town once a week to sing in a jam group at the Portage Church of Christ Almighty. I’ve never had so many friends.”
One of her new friends was Riley Samson, program director for the CMS Radio Group who arranged for Turner to record a cover of Ricky Rackin’s song.
“I listen to Today’s Hit Yesterday’s Hit Country Radio 999AM all the time and getting a chance to see the studio was a like lightning in my panties.”
Turner and Samson recorded the song in a thirty-minute session and “Her Tail Reminds Me Of A Warm Safe Place” was ready for heavy rotation on the station.
“It’s not what we would call a huge hit but we get lots of request for it and our stations across Western Canada all play it to help meet Canadian Content requirements,” Samson explained.
Ricky Rackin is happy his human friend in enjoying her new-found fame and is flattered to have one of his classics on the radio.
“I never thought in a million years I’d be able to sing let alone have a hit song on local country music radio,” Turner offered. “I’ll be forever grateful to that little rascal Ricky and his buddies.”
While most raccoons are not able to sing, there is a sub-species in the north-end of Portage la Prairie and the rural areas north of the city that are well renowned for their musical talents.
This is the first documented case of raccoon to human instruction that has lead to a recording but there are many stories over the years of Portage la Prairians partying and jamming with raccoons. The Peony Farm is home to most of these types of interactions, likely due to the fact they drink outside more than anywhere else in Portage.
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