An East Texas Easter, 1949
By Nikki Pelezo / Dirt Roads
The Easter of 1949, my brother, sister and I received a dyed duck in our Easter baskets. Mine was green and cute as a button. These ducks were obtained from our very dear friends that had a farm way outside of town. I fell deeply in love and the duck bonded to me. Where I went my duck was surely to follow. As the Spring progressed, my brother’s and sister’s ducks turned up missing, due (I thought to myself) to their lack of parenting. My duck flourished. He was fed and pampered beyond belief. When I played “Red Rover” or “King of the Mountain” my duck played along. He was gorgeous, but had one bad habit. George, my name for him, pooped constantly. Porch, sidewalk, under the clothes line, in front of the car door, wherever he was, he pooped. Back in those days kids never wore shoes in the summer, and my parents were apt to go barefoot on rare occasions, hanging clothes on the clothes line or washing the car.
George was also getting a little bit mean. He would run the neighborhood kids out of the yard, chase cars and bit the mailman on several occasions. There was a lot of mumbling, whispers and snide remarks made about George. My family turned on me and demanded that George be placed inside a pen. Oh, how could my parents expect my beautiful duck to live in a pen in the back yard. That’s when I got in the habit of letting George out to play with me. I would tie a string around his neck and walk him to the store, or take him visiting. Sure, I might not have had him on the string all the time, but that mean old mailman deserved getting his legs bit.
One Saturday, in late August, I dressed for the afternoon matinee western starring Gene Autry, the real King of the Cowboys. I made sure George was in his pen and off to the picture show I went. When I returned, George was gone. Daddy told me he took George back to the farm because he needed to be with other ducks and the farm needed a handsome boy duck. I wasn’t happy, but if George was needed then who was I to throw a hissy fit. Sure I missed George, but I gladly admitted that walking around barefoot was now pure joy.
Time passed quickly, school started, Halloween was a hit and then it was Thanksgiving. We were invited to the farm for Thanksgiving and it was a huge spread. Turkey and all the fixings. After dinner I went out to the yard to find George. That’s when the farmer’s kids told me we didn’t have turkey for Thanksgiving, we had duck. Evidently, their mailman had more clout than ours.