Yielding to a Migratory Urge, Long Island's 10-Ton Duck Takes Flight After 50 Years in One Place

updated 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/29/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

Once upon a time, there was a duck. It was a very big duck. (No, dear, the duck didn't have a name.) Actually, the duck wasn't a real, true duck. It was a building that looked like a duck. (I don't know whether it was a mommy duck or a daddy duck. It doesn't really matter.) It was built in Riverhead, Long Island, in 1931 for Martin Maurer, a farmer who wanted to sell his own ducks and eggs in it. (Look, grown-ups do funny things sometimes, okay?) It sat in nearby Flanders many years, and all the neighbors liked it, and it passed through many owners, including sculptor Kia Eshghi and his wife, Pouran, a boutique and beauty salon owner, who bought the duck and 11 acres for $225,000 in 1981. (No, that doesn't seem too expensive for a duck, and no, I don't know how much down.) "I loved the duck," said Pouran. "Besides being beautiful, it was a place that got people together."

Then, one day in 1986, a man from Hong Kong bought the land, and he didn't want the duck. So Kia and Pouran gave the bird to Suffolk County, which had it moved 4.1 miles to a temporary home until a permanent nest is found. Some of the neighbors were upset. "The duck is more popular than the President!" cried local resident Joan Philip. But the duck will live happily ever after, because the county plans to turn it into a duck memorabilia museum, paid for by donations to the Big Duck Preservation Fund. (Yes, it would make a nice duck stop or a fast-food joint named McDonald Duck, and what a clever child you are! Now will you go to bed?)

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