by Duane Preimsberger


Willowbrook is a four square mile community sandwiched in between Watts to the north and Compton to the south. Although the name would suggest a bucolic and peaceful community it wasn’t always so and I frequently wondered how the name came to be. Unfortunately, I was never able to find the brook although there were a few weeping willows in the neighborhood. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s most of the area was residential housing that dated back to the 1920’s. These small wooden framed dwellings were often on large lots ranging from a third of an acre to a full one and in the backyards were often chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats that augmented dinner tables and an occasional horse or two. It wasn’t unusual for the Deputy Sheriff’s from Firestone Sheriff’s Station who patrolled the area to see these critters during their watch.


Deputy Richard and his partner were working the morning watch from 11:00 PM until 7:00 AM in Willowbrook when they came across their very first case of Willowbrook ducknapping. It was almost 3:00 AM, a time when in almost every community the need for police services reaches the bottom of the chart. Most people are sleeping or at least at home, in bed. That why the partners were more than just a little surprised to see a man with a huge pot belly and two heads walking determinedly south along Willowbrook Ave. He was dressed in dark clothing and in the shadowy light he might have been invisible but his unusual appearance drew attention.


“Pull over, we’ve got to check this one out,” commented Richard as their black and white patrol car pulled to the curb alongside the unusual man.

One of the heads turned toward the Deputies and began quacking as Richard and his partner quickly realized that there was a live duck underneath the light-weight jacket worn by the suspicious person. The duck’s body was producing the giant belly and it had stuck its head up along the jacket collar, accounting for the second face that was next to the more normal human head.


“Good morning sir, we’ve stopped you because it’s a little unusual to see a person walking the streets at this hour with a duck concealed under his jacket.”


“What duck?”


At that point Richard, who possesses a remarkably quick wit and a keen sense of humor decided to play along while making up the script as he

continued the conversation.


“Well sir, it appears to us that you have somehow obtained ‘Waldo,’ the famous talking duck who has been reported ducknapped. When we came on duty we were all briefed on the ducknapping and we were advised to be on the lookout for a very dangerous and wanted suspect who had taken Waldo. I believe sir, that’s you!” 


“I didn’t kidnap no duck,” replied the crook.


“What duck?” asked Richard.


“Y’all must mean the one I found walking down the street and decided to take home so’s he could be warm that’s why he be in my coat.”


“Sir, you’re story is difficult to believe, my partner and I think that you came upon Waldo through nefarious and disingenuous means and have acquired him in an effort to recover the substantial reward offered for his safe reunitement with his caretakers!”




Sir, you stole Waldo, thus committing the crime of aggravated ducknapping.”


“I didn’t do none of them genius or necropious things. I was just walking along when the duck came right out in front of me on the sidewalk! All I wanted to do was to help him out.”


“Can you take us back to where you found him?”


“Sure can.”


A few minutes later the trio + duck were parked in front of a home on 118th St. and after just a brief conversation with the residents the Deputies determined that a duck was indeed missing from their duck enclosure and that the missing fowl bore an exact resemblance to the duck under the coat of the now profusely sweating suspect.


“Well there is no doubt about it now; you ducknapped Waldo from the pen in the backyard here. He was here on a short vacation with family, getting away from the glamour and glitz of show business, just resting and relaxing and simply being a duck when you napped him. Holy Mackerel man, the Federal Government is going to put you away for years and years! Newspapers, radio and television are going to write you up big time for this Federal offense. You’ll be old and gray by the time you get out.”


“But I didn’t ducknap that duck, give me one of them Pollengraph tests and I’ll pass it cause I ain’t lyin’ or denyin.”


“Sir, have you seen our new field polygraph unit that our patrol cars are fitted with?”


“No I ain’t,”


Well it works on a modified electrical connectivity premise that measures redundant electrolysis impulses in your hand that is pressed against the cover of our spotlight. These impulses are then calibrated based upon your age, gender and the ambient outside temperature and that information is converted into a signal; “lie,” or “no lie,” that is projected to the lights on our Motorola radio. Green means no lie and red means lie. Would you be willing to submit to the test?”


“Yes I will!”


Soon, Deputy Richard had the microphone from the patrol car radio in his hand while he placed the suspect’s left hand on the passenger side spot light and began asking a series of innocuous questions; name, age, race, marital status; all the while the light on the radio remained green.

Richards congratulated him on his truthfulness and then asked him if he’d ducknapped Waldo from the backyard pen.


“No I didn’t ducknap no duck, I tole y’all he was just awalkin’ down the sidewalk when I come to help him out.”


Richard depressed the mike talk key and immediately the green light went out and in its place the red light began to glow.


“OOOO nooo, the machine senses an untruth in your answer, you must be guilty and we’re going to have to take you to jail!” 


The three mile trip to the station began with Richard keying the mike again to advise his dispatcher that they had a prisoner in custody. At the same instant the duck began to quack uproariously, drowning out Richard. The astute radio operator didn’t miss a beat as she asked;

‘Sergeant unit with traffic, please repeat your message?”


The rest of the trip was spent in silence and after leaving the patrol car in the station parking lot; the two deputies walked the ducknapper into the booking area and locked him in a holding cell as they left momentarily to tell the on duty sergeant about their arrest and to get his advice about holding a live duck as evidence.

As they walked away, the ducknapper asked them a question that brought a smile to both of their faces.


“It was me that found Waldo the Talking Duck! Maybe you can get that reward money for me so’s I can use it for my bail???”