Daddy Gave Me a Duck for Easter

I don’t remember my father giving me gifts. But one Easter in the 1950s, when I was about ten, he brought home a duck for me.

To tell the truth, Dad brought two ducks home for Easter.

Usually, on Easter, we got Easter baskets, delivered in the dark of night by the Easter Bunny, of course. Kind of like Santa’s midnight run, I guess, because the baskets were always waiting bedside when we got up.

Candy, chocolates, jellybeans. Solid chocolate rabbits preferred to hollow ones. Cadbury cream eggs. All nestled in plastic green grass.

No baskets that year. We got the Easter ducks. One for my brother, one for me. Although we couldn’t tell them apart. And, I don’t remember their names.

My brother can’t remember their names either. But he doesn’t even remember the ducks. He didn’t pay much attention to stuff like that. Maybe, he suggests, they were Huey and Louie?

He only remembers us talking about the ducks. But he knows he was really disappointed when he didn’t get that expected Easter basket. He was only about five and he didn’t get the connection between ducks and Easter. .

The ducks were cute at first, quacking in the box they lived in. Baby ducks.

Then, they started to grow. Eat. Grow. Eat. Grow. And the cardboard box didn’t smell so good any more.

We built a pen on the driveway. I don’t know why we didn’t sensibly build it on grass because we had a big yard. But, it was on the concrete driveway. In Iowa we used a lot of concrete and not much asphalt. Am sure the ducks didn’t know concrete from asphalt but I’ve always wondered why.

I thought ducks should swim and took dishpans of water out to them. Which didn’t please either the ducks or my mother.

We had to feed the ducks, of course. Well, my brother didn’t. I did. And what goes in comes out. The odor was awful.

I don’t remember much else about the ducks except they were seriously frightened by airplanes. And a lot of airplanes flew over our house on a regular basis. Sometimes the ducks got so agitated they escaped the pen and we’d have to track them down.

Honey May, the cocker spaniel, didn’t much like the ducks either and spent a lot of time with paws on the dining room window sill, looking out the window and barking.

Finally, Dad couldn’t take the barking, quacking and my complaints about all the work I’d acquired since the ducks arrived. I think he really wanted to once again use the garage, unreachable by car because the pen was in the driveway.

He took both of the ducks out to Leo Stroup’s farm to live with all of Leo’s other ducks.

I didn’t know Leo then, but I was happy I would no longer have to feed the ducks and clean the driveway.

I knew those Easter ducks would live out a full and fruitful life doing whatever ducks do on a nice big Iowa farm. They’d have friends, a big pond to swim in, grass to eat, freedom to roam.

Not too many weeks later, we had duck for dinner.

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