By Paul Stanton:
One snowy December day in Hamilton, Montana when I was nine or ten. I watched Dad outside our window picking roses. They were plastic. He’d wired them onto the frozen rosebushes days before, and was leisurely picking them for the benefit of passing traffic. He said one guy “nearly ran off the road gawking”. Dad took his joking seriously.
My father and my two older brothers introduced me to snipe hunting, side hill gougers (a myth-illogical beast), uses for rubber dog doo, and “pull my finger”. It was only fitting that I should carry on, and expand upon, a family tradition.
In high school, I loved the outdoors, photography, and satire. My senior year I led the unsuccessful effort for a drive-in graduation cerimony. I rode a Cushman scooter named “The Roaring Red Dog”, complete with a tail, teeth, eyes, and floppy ears that rose up like wings when the machine reached its 40 mph top speed. With classmates I organized Hamilton’s first “Junior Mister Pageant”, featuring guys in evening wear (nightshirts and nightcaps) and sportswear (snowshoes, badminton rackets, swim fins, and snorkels). In a break with pageant traditions, contestants were expected to attack and “beat up” the winner. As it happend I won.
During those years I often visited Ernst Peterson, a photographer whose studio was across from our family’s grocery store. Ernst was well-known for his black-and-white photographs and photo-murals (often hand-colored) of scenery and wildlife in Montana and the Northwest. “The story of the West in Pictures” was his theme. Ernst put up with my questions, and taught me much about nature photography and hand-coloring. He believed that any picture taken on film smaller than a 4″x5″ sheet was a “snapshot”. In later years he sold me his 4″x5″ Beseler enlarger, which I still use.
In college I studied still and movie photography. I worked in those fields for a while, but couldn’t find a way to do them full-time while remaining in Montana.My scenic black-and-white and hand-colored prints drew some praise at art fairs, but few buyers. To my surprise, the goofy photo-postcards I’d originally made up for my friends kept selling out. Individually printing each card in the darkroom took too much time. In 1987, with my wife Laurie’s urging and support, I hired a commercial printer to produce a few thousand cards and I put them in two stores. They sold out quickly, and suddenly I was in the postcard business…
Read the rest of Paul’s story in his book THE DUCKBOY WAY or Quack in the Saddle, Again – available on this site. You will also enjoy his short stories: Memoirs of an Old Duck Boy; Last Call for Bears; and How to Make Cowboy Coffee.
We hope to have a new printing of Paul’s other book available soon: Extreme(ly Dumb) Sports THE DUCKBOY GUIDE.
“Whether you call them duckboys, duckgirls or rednecks, these are the people that assure us ours is not the only crazy family out there. Thanks for the laughs.” -Jeff Foxworthy
Please take a moment to enjoy The Duckboy Song by Paul Stanton. (See the video, below)
Psalm 131 After learning to laugh at yourself with Duckboy (step one), try the King David approach before God, …it sure worked for him.