My View: When ducks get liquored

  • This article was on the front page of the April 2, 1942 edition of the Cherokee Scout.
    This article was on the front page of the April 2, 1942 edition of the Cherokee Scout.

    I was going to write something on the general election, making wildly inaccurate prognostications and trying in vain to find something positive to say about it, but then I read about the drunken duck that went quackers in Murphy more than 78 years ago.
    If you think things are crazy in 2020, here’s how a headline on the front page of the April 2, 1942, edition of the Cherokee Scout reads: “Drunken Duck Goes On The War Path And Lands Self and Owner in County Jail.” (Don’t you love random headline capitalization in old newspapers?)
    I’ve never wanted to read a story more than after seeing that headline.
    “They’ve had all kinds of drunks in the County Jail, but last week Jailer Patton Coleman had a new one sprung on him by Frank Crawford, one time cafe owner in Andrews, but now a well liked member of the Murphy Police force,” the non-bylined story reads, which is a shame because the writer deserves full credit.
    “It was a drunken duck named Eustace, the bird was raised as a pet, and ordinarily is a perfect little gentleman – but he drinks. And when he is in his liquor, Crawford and Coleman agree that he acts scandalous!”
    (I know many women who say the same thing about their gentleman. And who doesn’t enjoy a good exclamation point?!)
    “The owner of Eustace brought him to Murphy last week, leading him by a string. Eustace would follow without any cord, but is led, his owner explained, to keep him from attacking dogs. Eustace doesn’t like dogs – and he’s a big drake, with a long, tough bill. When he pecks ’em, they stay pecked.”
    (I can hear dogs barking in approval.)
    “Eustace and his owner went first to the Smoke-house. Somebody bought the owner a beer. The after drank half, then put the glass down on the floor, where Eustace emptied it.
    “After that, Eustace was definitely in on the party. Every time a drink was bought, there was a glass for Eustace. Pretty soon he was honking challenges to any and all comers.”
    (I so wish there were cell phones with cameras back then to record this.)
    “Bud Alverson came around to announce that Eustace would have to quiet down, or leave. Eustace didn’t like the tone of his voice, went into a staggering charge, and bit Bud on the leg. For that Eustace and his owner both got put out.”
    (I’m pretty sure if you bite Colby Beck’s leg, you’re getting thrown out of The Parson’s Pub today, too.)
    “Eustace and his owner then proceeded to make the rounds of the beer taverns. It wasn’t long before the owner was just as drunk as Eustace, and vice versa. (That’s some solid writing right there.)
    “Then Policeman Crawford took a hand. Eustace tried his drunken best to fight the policeman off, and so Frank finally picked him up and took him to jail too … where he fought himself until he finally fell over, asleep.
    “Next morning, the owner was fined the costs. He paid and started to leave.
    “ ‘Hey,’ said Coleman, ‘you forgot your duck.’
    “ ‘The man didn’t even look around. ‘Damn that duck,’ he said, and kept going.’ Coleman sent Eustace to a grandchild, who will perch the bird on the water-wagon.”
    And now you know something else about Cherokee County to crow about.
    David Brown is publisher & editor of the Cherokee Scout. You can reach him by phone, 837-5122; or email,