What follows has been dubbed Case 9999: The Dalmatian Duck – a favorite story of mine since childhood and the namesake of this project.
Important: No one was truly threatened or harmed (duck planters included). It was all carried out in jest and good fun. – Darice Joy
I was living at Greentree Drive at the time this story began. Our landlord allowed tenants to plant flowers if they so desired. Accordingly, I took advantage of this opportunity, and planted a colorful flowerbed which pleased me as well as my immediate neighbors. In the early 70’s, I had purchased a garden planter in the shape of a white duck, which had yellow wings painted on each side. I was teaching school and living in Gilbert at the time this purchase was made. This duck wasn’t anything to brag about, but the exhibition of the flowers which it held helped to give it a little pizzazz.
After my move from Gilbert to Greentree Drive, I made sure my duck was safely transported together with all of my belongings, and proudly located near my front door.
The demise of this poor duck began to unfold in 1984 while at Greentree Drive. While there, I was happy being close to all of my family and arranged to have them over as much as possible. I lured them with lots of home cooking which they enjoyed as much as I did in preparing the dinners.
Invariably, from time to time, my poor duck was misplaced. These incidents occurred quite often, and their reactions were verbal responses of innocence. I would interrogate each of my kids with questions like, “O.K., where did you put my duck?” But this interrogation was fruitless, causing me to search in likely places where it might be hidden; such as behind bushes or trees outside the apartment. One time in desperation after doing the outside ‘run,’ I searched the apartment and finally stumbled on it, tucked inside my clothes hamper the day after one of these dinner visits. I know God has always endowed me with patience, but at times I had to say extra prayers for an extra supply of patience to cope with my mischievous kids.
Finally, one day, the inevitable happened. On Easter Sunday, April 7, 1985, my poor duck was officially kidnapped – absolutely nowhere to be found. A few days after this terrible incident, I received my first ransom note in the mail with stipulations to follow for the safety and return of my duck. (Refer to brown memo concerning the terms.) A few days later, a second ransom note was received in the mail, indicating very serious terms for the safe return of this poor duck. (Refer to white paper.) To add to the worry and desperation I was feeling at the time, a photo was enclosed with the second letter. The photo showed two figures (heads were eliminated) pointing two guns ready to shot this helpless animal.
In desperation, I posted a memo concerning this kidnapped duck, and asked for help or any info from anybody who might have seen it. (See memo.)
A few days later, a letter addressed to Mataji, which contained two written memos, was slipped under my door. Of course, after I read both memos [memo #1 & memo #2], and reflected upon the photo, I knew then, that the kidnappers were my son Peter, and daughter-in-law Lynn. Those rascals. As memo #2 indicated, I was cordially invited to Peter and Lynn’s for dinner. Upon my arrival there, Lynn ushered me outside. Lo and behold, a miracle unfolded. Sitting on a remote table in an obscure location in the yard was my poor lonely duck. This time he was no longer white and yellow, but instead he proudly projected his white coat, generously covered with large black spots – truly a Dalmatian Duck. Spots or no spots, I was happy to be reunited once again with this poor duck, who had experienced so much pain and suffering.
In 1988, I moved to Holiday, Florida, to care for my older sister who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, my duck came along with me in my move, to give me courage and support, as I witnessed daily my sister’s memory fading into confusion and non-recognition, a symptom of this impairment. My duck continued to proudly display himself and the beautiful flowers it held as well. All my neighbors were enraptured with the uniqueness and color of this unusual duck. Of course, all of them were well-informed of the traumatic experiences this poor duck had lived through these many years. But now he was safe and sound, and none of my kids were around to plot another kidnapping.
But my wonderful relationship with this friendly duck was shattered again. In June of 1990, my sister Rose passed away. She was at last at peace with our Lord, and I was grateful that I had the opportunity to be with her during her final years.
I was also grateful having both Rosemary and Sal and granddaughter Mary, and my brother Eddie and wife Doris, with me during this time of mourning. They remained with me for several days.
Rosemary and Sal were the last to leave, and before their departure, I realized my poor duck was missing – again! I immediately asked them about this disappearance of this poor animal, and of course, both denied any guilt (with straight faces.) Unfortunately I did not have time to initiate a search, because there were last minute things I had to tend to, before driving them to Tampa to pick up their flight to Philadelphia.
After seeing them off at the airport, and giving them lots of hugs (despite my suspicions as to their parts in the kidnapping.) I returned home to Holiday, and began a thorough search for the missing duck – deja vue. No luck.
So I decided to I would write both Sal and Rosemary – a registered letter, return receipt requested. (See copy of my letter to Rosemary.) You will note contents of the letter help to embellish the sadness I was feeling together with my ‘humor’ as well. The real humor of this whole story was that Rosemary had to race to the post office before closing time to claim this registered letter. When she arrived at the post office, she was asked for identification which she did not have with her. This necessitated a trip back home to obtain her driver’s license, and then back to the post office to retrieve this special letter! Of course, she was relieved that it was not from the IRS requesting an audit!
To end this saga, my duck was finally found after a two day search. It was well hidden in back of a very large bush in the front of Rose’s house. In due time I received Sal and Rosemary’s signed receipts. Despite the sadness and seriousness of my sister’s funeral, my kids were there to give me support, and still found time to mischievous, funny but loving – and I continue to enjoy their ways.
The duck still lives. It is now enjoying a comfortable residence at Peter & Lynn’s, and I continue to enjoy seeing it whenever I go there to visit. All’s well that ends well.