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The year my Dad was a mother duck
by Gaylord Wayne Little
Submitted: 9-20-2010


The year was 1969, when Old Glory was planted firmly on the lunar surface, Kevin discovered that Winnie Cooper was "hot", Aquarius, by the Fifth Dimension was the number one top hit, The Beatles sang, "Come Together Over Me", and OUTPOST 40, was killed in action in Vietnam. That was the call sign for my cousin, Bill Little.  

On the home front, I was in college in York, Pa. Not too much more then 100 miles from home but my Dad still wrote me letters letting me know what was going on in the peaceful little village of Waterside. In one such letter dated Sunday April 20, 1969, he wrote: 

Dear Gaylord,

Just a few lines to let you know that things are still moving along in the usual manner and that Spring is bursting out all over. 

    One of the wild duck hens made a nest under the oil barrel outback of the old store building and she is sitting on eleven eggs. She began to lay two weeks ago today. She laid 7 eggs in 7 days, (we looked each day) then missed Sunday and laid again on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. On Thursday she also began to set and has been at it ever since. When she goes off in the evening for exercise and food, we snoop. The first 2 she didn't cover but after she laid the third one she covered them all over with stems and dry grass. The day she laid the 10th one she mixed some of her fine downy feathers in with the stems and grass. Now when she is off, that keeps them warm. Mr. Duck just paddles around and waits. One morning there were six pretty drakes all together on the smooth waters of the dam. I guess they were all "in the same boat". When she goes off the nest, they fly away together or go walking together. One evening while we ate supper they were up walking all around over our field and Danny Imler's garden.  

    We enjoyed your nice long newsy letter. Give our best regards to Tonnie Thomas and come see us when you can. 

Love and Best Wishes to you. 


Well, that letter from Dad was where the whole thing started. It seems that Mrs. Duck hatched 10 of the 11 eggs and abandoned the nest. Arthur and Marie took the last egg and put it in a box in the kitchen with a 7 1/2 watt light bulb to keep it warm. Every so often they would turn it. When it hatched they gave it water from a dropper. They fed it oatmeal and bugs and it grew to the point where they could take it outside and let it swim in the bird bath. When they would put it down in the grass, under their supervision, it would follow my dad around the yard. It wasn't afraid of the grandchildren that came that summer from Florida to visit. Everyone called it Elmer, but as it grew it's adult feathers they had to change it's name to Elmeretta. By this time she was eating pieces of bread that dad would throw to her and swimming in the plastic swimming pool. When the kids were there, dad would scrub the pool out with Clorox and a brush and refill it with clean water. After they were all done swimming for the day, Elmeretta was allowed in. Sometimes while the grandchildren were splashing around in the pool, Elmeretta would wait patiently by the pool for her turn.

While she was eating bugs one evening in the "field of dreams" behind mom & dad's house, a handsome Prince arrived and walked with her. He would then go back to the dam until the next evening. Pretty soon it was morning and evening. Then one day Elmeretta flew away with her Prince. They would come back to visit but spent most of their time paddling around on the dam. The summer of '70 they visited several times, had a nest along the bank of the dam, with several ducklings of their own, but when they left in the fall, that was the last they were seen.  

It was a great experience for the grandchildren and the neighbor kids to get to know and love the little leftover egg that became a duckling. They watched as she grew into an adult hen with beautiful blue coloring on her wings that stood out over her otherwise brown feathering. Yes, the year was 1969, and my dad, Pappy Little to the kids, was a mother duck and in his good natured way, didn't mind a bit. 



Elmeretta the Duck with Arthur & Marie's grandchildren
Submitted by: Gaylord Wayne Little


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