It was Good Friday 1957. I was ten years old. I lived with my mother, dad, and big brother in a two bedroom house in one of the first Denver suburbs just west of the Denver County line. My dad came home from work. I remember it was dark. He had a box with two Easter presets for me. I approached and spied a wee bunny and a tiny little duck. I don't think my mother was in on this gift. She did not like any of my dogs and would not let them inside of the house.
I actually remember the first few days of my new pets. My dad and I created a place for them to live in the garage. It was still cold outside. Although Spring had sprung it was still too cold to let the little guys like these live outdoors.
A few weeks passed. The weather got warmer. My dad and I built a place in the backyard for the pets. We lived on a corner lot with a white picket fence encasing the back yard. We used galvanized chicken coop wire to build pen. My dad placed a small sheet of plywood over a part of the space to provide shelter from the sun and rain. I called my bunny "Bugs" and the duck "Sweet Pea". "Swee
Pea" was the foundling that Popeye and his girl friend Olive Oyl cared for. Sweet Peas was my foundling.
Bugs and Sweet Pea shared the same space. They got along fine. I decided to build a pond so that Sweet Pea could swim. I dug a hole which I filled with water. The water seeped into the earth. Later I took my wagon up to the lumber yard on 38th Avenue and bought a bag of cement which I brought back home. I mixed the cement and put it around the hole. After the cement dried I filled the pond with water. That did not work either. In the end I would use the garden hose to give Sweet Pea a good hose down. She would flap her wings and quack her little head off. She loved that.
I let the guys out of the pen so they could run free in the back yard. Bugs hopped around exploring. We had three gooseberry bushes, an apple and cherry tree, a rock garden with rocks collected from every place we went. My dad had a vegetable garden located opposite the incinerator. My mother made the very best pies ever. I remember her making a cherry pie and a gooseberry cobbler. She also canned vegetable from that garden later that year. My parents were survivors of the Great Depression. They savored the bounty of their little back yard.
Bugs proved to be a rascal and escaped through a hole in the white picket fence. I remember walking the nearby streets and alleys looking for him and calling out his name, as if he would respond like a lost dog. That didn't work out. Sweet Pea on the other hand seemed to love her life at our house. She even worked her way into my mother's heart, if there was one. She actually let me bring Sweet Pea into the house - a duck. I remember the day Sweet Pea was standing on a dining room chair when the call of Nature occurred. I freaked out and cleaned up the mess. Surprisingly my mother did not create a scene.
It was around this time my dad told me about his youth. He grew up in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. He told me was a long distance runner in school which I found inspiring. Later I remember going outside to run around the block. I have a weak heart and that did not work. I couldn't make it to the end of the block without gasping for breath.
Instead of running I decided a different form of exercise for me and Sweet Pea. I put one of my mother's old red aprons on Sweet Pea and placed a string around her neck and then walked her around the block. I did this several times in fact. I'm sure the neighbors had a laugh.
Fall arrived. I knew it was time for Sweet Pea to find a better place to live. I asked my best friend if his grand parents would let Sweet Pea move to their farm and to live with other animals. It seems strange to refer to her as an animal. I would cuddle with her and she would coo. She was as dear as a dog. She really was a Sweet Pea.
It was a gray Friday afternoon when Bruce's grand parents showed up at my house to pick up Sweet Pea. Bruce was there. I didn't cry. I loved my duck but I knew this was best for her (or him). I didn't know about sex back then. Maybe Sweet Pea was a he and not a she. Who cares? Sweet Pea was a treasured part of my little life!