The Duck Family

By Jerry D. Haight

If you can imagine living two doors down the street from the Duck family, that is Donald, Daisy, Huie, Dewy and Louie, you can imagine living down the street from the Dirkse family, David, Carol, Robbie and Russell. We shared a quiet middle class suburban neighborhood with them. Dave fit in well because he was quiet, even tempered and rarely ruffled his feathers, that is as long as his kids were asleep. I viewed Dave’s life as his pond. In his pond, there were no ripples, no wakes and no current. But whenever his pond was disrupted his response was vastly disproportionate because he could not handle either risk or change. His work life was totally ordered by his boss. When I talked with him about his job, it was though I was looking at his pond through his eyes. There he was in the middle of that peaceful pond without a ripple.  But I knew below the surface of tranquility were some surprises, and not only from Robbie and Russell because as long as I was around, Dave would not live in a ripple less pond.   


Robbie and Russell, of course, knew all Dave’s buttons and pushed them at regular intervals causing him to erupt. Drinking his Pepsis, getting into his tool box, leaving his tools out of place, leaving bicycles or other toys on the driveway, dawdling and being late would always cause major eruptions. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him erupt. Carol Dirkse, on the other hand, was very different. She was sweet, gentle and easy going all the time. She liked challenges and enjoyed changes. Unlike Dave, Carol had a wonderful sense of humor and often we would laugh together until we cried and our sides felt  like they would split.

Our boys, Vince and Bill, were close to the ages of Robbie and Russell and our families became quite close. Phyllis took care of Robby and Russell after school before Carol and Dave got home from work.  Carol was employed at the clinic where my physician practiced which was a handy arrangement especially when Carol gave me shots for kidney stones in the middle of the night. The neighbors are still wondering about those mid night trips back and forth . . .although maybe not.  

I felt a little diabolical because of the joy I felt whenever I was a ripple in Dave’s pond.  One time it was the gift of Pepsi-Cola I gave him enclosed in a box made from heavy gauge steel. The back, sides, bottom and top were welded solid and the front of the enclosure was of heavy steel mesh.  Carol and the boys enjoyed the prank and Dave knew he would always have at least two bottles of Pepsi.  

The prank of which I am most proud started several months before thanksgiving, I briefly hinted I was going to give them a very special thanksgiving gift.  About two weeks later Dave received a carton containing about three pounds of pamphlets and brochures from the California Department of Agriculture dealing with raising turkeys. This material was just the beginning of things to come.  Brochures from ConAgra and Purina dealing with turkey food came.  They told about the proper food for the various stages of turkeyhood.  He would know that a properly fed turkey can grow up to forty pounds. Dave got catalogs from vendors offering turkey calls that were guaranteed to bring turkeys running. Then he received package after package of literature from various farm bureaus, county extension agencies, poultry coops and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. I even remember Dave getting information from the University of Davis Farm and Poultry Department. Some of the literature Dave received told him about predators like coyotes, fox, skunk, raccoon, badgers and owls and strategies for keeping turkeys safe from them.

There was a plethora of pharmaceutical information about how to keep turkeys healthy. Each subject spawned an avalanche of other material. For example, from the pharmaceutical information companies dealing with vitamins, minerals, fungicides, pesticides and a few other “cides” long forgotten added Dave to their mailing lists and the literature continued to mount. I was amazed how much free literature there is on the subject.

While Dave never met the man, Robert and Russell told him about the man from the County that came by to inspect his “Turkey Operation”.  I would have loved to witness  the explodisode myself but Carol told me years later Dave erupted like magma. It started with his tail feathers fluffing up, then the feathers on his back bristled and coming forth from his mouth was the full volume of unintelligible duck-like language. He was beside himself.  When Carol told me she suspected they were about to receive a truck load of live turkeys any day we all had a side splitting laugh to the point of tears.   

The day before Thanksgiving came and we announced we had a gift for them. The air was electric with tension. Phyllis and I had joined Carol and Dave in their kitchen and I asked our son Vince to go out through their garage and bring in “Turkey”.  Just as Vince left, I handed him a ten foot piece of ½” rope I was carrying and a chair saying “you might need these”. The look on Dave and Carol’s face was worth every minute of planning put into the scam. When Vince got out to their garage, he rattled boxes, made a great deal of commotion and at last opened the door and brought in “Turkey”. As it turned out, the gift was a little parakeet in a cage with his name on the door, “Turkey” of course.