BERLIN – The “winningest bathtub in Berlin history” is now on display at the town’s welcome center in honor of the late Jesse Turner.
Berlin residents Frank and Susan Baker have donated the bathtub that so often triumphed in the Berlin Bathtub Races to the town. The bathtub on wheels is now a centerpiece in the Berlin Welcome Center.
“We’re very excited that we had this opportunity today to accept Jesse Turner’s famous bathtub racer that is an iconic source of pride to our community,” Mayor Gee Williams said.
Turner, the longtime owner of the Berlin Shoe Box, was instrumental in helping the Berlin Chamber of Commerce start the town’s popular bathtub races in 1990. In the ensuing two decades, his bathtub went on to win at least five times.
“This racer got the Berlin Bathtub Races started,” Williams said.
He said the Bakers acquired the tub after Turner’s death in 2017 and offered to donate it to the town. Officials were thrilled to accept the well-known bright red racing tub and decided to display it in the welcome center. Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director, said it would be used to lead the parade of entries at the bathtub races.
In the meantime, it will be a place citizens can donate gently used shoes to be given to charity. Williams placed the first pair of shoes in the bathtub Tuesday morning.
“I think it’s an appropriate and practical way to remember Jesse Turner,” Williams said.
Turner, who the mayor described as the “most prominent African American businessman” in Berlin, operated the Berlin Shoe Box for decades and also served as past president of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce. He was the 2004 winner of the Berlin Award. Turner passed away in the spring of 2017, just a month after closing his shop and retiring.
“His impact on the community is still being felt,” Williams said. “He was someone who cared about people and cared about the community.”
The newly donated bathtub will be on display in the Berlin Welcome Center in coming weeks and will be featured prominently in the weeks leading up the Berlin’s annual bathtub races in July.