I’m Janice Jay Young. I’m a docent here at The Big Duck. I’m a local — or at least, I have been since 1986.
I used to come out here on weekends as a child and just like everybody else who came out on weekends, I knew I was almost to the summer house when we saw The Big Duck. It’s a story that’s told over and over.
I’m a history buff. I love meeting people from all over the world. We have children who visit, we get people who are elderly that come to visit who are very nostalgic about The Big Duck, we get architects who visit, because a structure shaped like what it sells is called a “duck.”
It was built in 1931, it was built by Martin Maurer.
These kinds of things were built when people first started to own their own cars, they were very excited about traveling. So the vendors wanted to get their attention as they went whizzing by at 30-miles per hour. This served as a big sign to advertise the farm and the shop that was in here.
We have a lot of photographs, we have artifacts from the moves, we also have a lot of duck-abilia.
Having served on the landmarks board for about, I think, six years — the Town of Southampton landmarks board — I guess that piqued my interest in history. And I am the secretary of the Flanders Village Historical Society also, and active in the Friends of The Big Duck. So, The Big Duck enters my life in many different forms.
It’s a symbol of eastern Long Island and Long Island in general. There were hundreds of ducks farms out here at one point on Long Island. Duck farming helped develop the eastern Long Island economy, so it was a very important industry. And there’s something about ducks! Kids love them, adults love them. There’s something awfully cute about ducks, especially these white Pekin ducks that we have, or that we used to have.
“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town.