Journeys
Memories of ‘Melvin the Mallard’
The eagle story in a recent Land Line magazine caused me to recall an avian situation that happened to me years ago.

By Gordon Alkire, OOIDA life member, Riley, KS

In 1976, I owned a ’68 Pete and was pulling tanks and flatbeds. We were using pumps to drain a catch pond at a closed meat packing plant in Decatur, IL. We would fill our tanks at the pond, go to an underground cavern, dump and return for another load.

While in transit with one of these loads a mallard duck flew into my truck via the passenger window. The window was open, thank goodness. Quacking loudly, the duck just flew in, sat down on the passenger seat, and refused to leave. I was traveling about 30 miles an hour.

This duck was something else. To say I was taken aback is an understatement. It scared the dickens out of me. There I was driving in traffic and trying to watch out for the usual oddball car driver, and this feathery aberration flew in and adopted me.

This duck was the usual colored mallard, blue and bright green. He was as loud as a quacking foghorn. This duck trucked with me for about a week.

When not in the truck, he would follow me everywhere, kind of like a puppy duck. We were staying in the Holiday Inn in Decatur – and when I went in, he went also, except when I went to the dining room.

It was beginning to be a mascot at the Holiday Inn. The duck was a celebrity of sorts. He would let people touch it and coo and ogle it as long as he could see me. When I got out of its sight, the party was over and he went hunting for me.

While in the truck he would sit on the dash and look at everything going on around us.

The moving truck did not bother him. Even with the windows down he did not try to get out or fly away.

The weirdest thing was whenever there was an officer or police car around he would go crazy with the quacking. I thought I would go deaf in my right ear at times. I could not stop him until the offending car or uniform left. I guess you could say he was a quacking radar detector of sorts.

When I would get out to hook up pump hoses, he would sit there waiting for me to do my job and return to the truck.

The motel people helped me keep an eye on him with food and water and some straw for the bedding. He stayed in an open cardboard box at night in the room. And if he needed or wanted to go out, he let me know by jumping out of the box and going to the room door and pecking on it. This duck just blew everyone’s minds, including mine.

That duck adventure was strange but enjoyable. During that whole week, taking a picture did not enter my mind. Thanks to the eagle story, however, it was nice to remember this.

Melvin the Mallard: Wonder Duck – that’s the name someone came up with. I had this feathered companion for nearly a week. We were a team, just doing our work together, this mallard and me.

One afternoon at the end of the workday, he told me goodbye. He fluttered up to the dash by the steering wheel, looked at me for a little bit, quacked, and flew out the window. He circled the lot twice and then headed off into the blue skies, honking as he left. LL

March/April
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