Our great American imagination
CHAPTER 1 | CHAPTER 2 | CHAPTER 3 | CHAPTER 4 | CHAPTER 5 | CHAPTER 6 | CHAPTER 7 | CHAPTER 8 | CHAPTER 9 | CHAPTER 10 | CHAPTER 11 | CHAPTER 12 | CHAPTER 13 | CHAPTER 14 | CHAPTER 15 | CHAPTER 16 | CHAPTER 17 | CHAPTER 18
RICK We’re not finished either. One more stop at one of Zippy’s favorites: In New York, on Long Island, the Big Duck.
ANTHONY I used to pass by this Big Duck every way, every day driving to work.
JUNE We came all the way from Florida to see the Big Duck.
ALICE That’s right.
JOE Oh, my wife and I were going by, actually we were looking for something else, and it didn’t show up, but there’s always the Big Duck.
RICK Inside the Duck, the Friends for Long Island’s Heritage run a cool little gift shop and there’s a merry museum of sorts that this woman has put together over the years.
BABS Well, I’m Babs Bixby. I’m called the Duck Lady or anything from that to the curator of the Big Duck, a National Historic Place.
RICK The Duck was built in 1931 modeled after a Peking duck.
BABS The Duck has never been named. It’s just Big Duck or The Big Duck.
ANTHONY Well, actually, I just like the architecture of it. I think it’s a neat little building. I remember it used to be further up the road in Flanders itself.
BABS The Flanders Duck, the Riverhead Duck, depending on where it is. It started out in Riverhead. It was the Big White Duck of Riverhead. And then the Flanders Duck. Most people just know it as the Big Duck.
ALICE Our parents used to take us here when we were kids. And we used to buy stuff, and it was just like so exciting because it was a big duck!
JUNE It was a duck and it was HUGE…
ALICE And we were little.
JUNE When we were little.
ALICE And it was exciting.
ANTHONY And it actually was an egg store at one time, and I remember when it was an egg store, so I’m dating myself a little bit.
JOE They used to sell duck eggs out here, and Long Island was famous for its ducks.
ANTHONY Make me think of the genius who must have thought about it. I mean if you had to use this as an egg store, this is perfect.
BABS This was built by an ordinary fellow, a duck farmer by the name of Martin Maurer…
RICK In the 1920s he was bold enough to drive across the country.
BABS And when he got to California, he saw these odd buildings like the Tail O The Pup, the Brown Derby, and he just said, Oh, that’s it. I’m gonna drive back to New York and build a duck, and so he built a whole duck.
RICK The duck was moved in the late 1930s. It changed owners several times, and the last owner donated it to the people of Long Island in the late 1980s. That’s when it was moved here.
BABS You, you just can’t explain it. You just experience it: it’s a duck. It has to do with like, just a good, it’s a good happy feeling. There’s nothing, there’s no rational thing about it really.
JOE I’m sure people came by the Big Duck, and you know when Grandpa was here, and their children are saying, and now they’re showing their children that it, it presents kind of a historical continuum.
ANTHONY I mean, it’s just great. I like coming at Christmastime too. They put a wreath around his neck and it’s really great.
BABS I’m always taking pictures and looking at the Duck, and I’ve been keeping the flag on the Duck all season. Cause the Duck really represents Americana at its best and most whimsical. And people love whimsy, yeah.