USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘rubber ducky’
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Rubber Ducky River Race

Main Piece

“So, every July 4thin Florence Oregon, they have the annual Rubber duck race. You buy a rubber duck. And usually there are hundreds of people that do this, so it’s like hundreds of rubber ducks. They load them into these trucks. So, you have like, your number and your duck. They put them into this dump truck and they dump them all into the Siuslaw River. And they have this little course. Whosever duck crosses the finish line first gets the prize. I don’t know what the prize is because I’ve never won. But yeah, it’s this nice little tradition we have and it’s a nice, little town too so everyone plays.”

 

Context

The informant told me this story as a fun memory from the informant’s childhood. It is a fun tradition that is nostalgic to the informant because it is a time of the year where everyone in the town gets together.

This is a fun Fourth of July tradition the informant’s town held every year to celebrate the independence of the United States. She was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. She lived in Germany, Kansas, Virginia – but went back to Oregon to live at her family’s main house in Oregon. She only speaks English, but can speak parts of languages like Germany. Both parents are lawyers in the military (jags).

 

Notes

I have never heard of a town having such a large rubber duck race. My hometown has a fair every year and one of the games is a rubber duck race. But dumping an entire truckload of rubber ducks sounds like a fun and extra way to bring everyone in a small town together. It also creates a topic of discussion for everyone in that town to connect on.

Game

Rubber Ducky

The informant is currently a student at the University of Southern California and went to elementary school in Northern California. The game was described in a casual setting where the informant and all audience members were sitting on the couch. The actual piece of folklore is performed in a school setting during recess for young children.

Informant: Uh so this game…it’s called Rubber Ducky, I couldn’t tell you why it was called that…And it was played, so there’s two teams, as many people as you want can be on the team, doesn’t even have to be an even number of people on each team…Um, just like however you divide it up. And you play, like, with a basketball court, on the short length of the basketball court. One’s on one side line, the other’s on the other side line, those are where the teams are. And you can either divide it like, the field extends from like, the base line to half court, or full court, depending on how many people you have. And, uh…you get as many dodgeballs as you want, it’s very very, well, depending on the amount of people, and you just hit the dodgeball to the other side. If it lands, you get a point, if they catch it, you don’t get a point.

Audience Member: Hit it with what?

Informant: Just hit it with your hand. Just hit it over, spike it over, throw it over.

Audience Member: Over what?

Informant: Over the basketball court. And you have to hit it, and if it lands on the other side of the basketball court, then you get a point. But if they catch it, or if it lands before the other sideline, then, you don’t get a point.

Audience Member: Can you lose a point?

Informant: No, you can’t lose a point, you just don’t get a point.

Audience Member: So you play this where?

Informant: Elementary school. Me and one of my friends made it up.

Audience Member: How does it end?

Informant: Uh…You just play to a certain amount of points, or play until, you know, recess is over.  Whoever is winning at the end.

Audience Member: And your whole elementary school played?

Informant: The whole elementary school, people in other grades. Teachers got in on it, and coached and like reffed it. It was awesome.

The game described is a game that does not involve many rules and is easy to learn. The title of the game “Rubber Ducky” has no relation to the actual game and seems to serve as more of a humorous title to amuse children. It is also a nonviolent and simple game, which is probably why the game became so widespread across the informant’s elementary school, and why the teachers allowed it and encouraged its growth. The simplicity of the game comes from the fact that two 8 year olds created it and the widespread popularity of the game in the informant’s elementary school shows how fun and easy it is to play, allowing it to multiply and change across grades , time, and possibly schools.

Unlike most folklore, the origin and the creator can be traced back to my informant. Although the game is not completely unique, taking aspects of several different sports and games, the name and its execution causes it to be considered a new game. Its rapid spread from two people to an entire school shows the power of folklore, and the informant states that last that he heard, which was a few years ago, the game was still being played in the elementary school. Therefore, it can be said that this children’s folk game follows the idea of monogenesis, and can be tracked back to its origin.

 

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