Dick Richardson brought in some of his favorite decoys. He began with a cork brant by Bellport carver John Boyle. Boyle was the first Secretary of the Pattersquash Gun Club. Dick said that this decoy had several owners whose brands are on the bird. It was first owned by a duck hunter named Sperry, then by the Brown brothers. After that, it was owned by Walford Worth and then Dick’s father Harvey Richardson. It is now owned by Dick and is one of his prized possessions.
The second decoy he showed was a black duck he received from Wilbur Corwin. Dick told the story that in 1949, when Dick was 14 he went to the Sportsman Show in New York City. There was a contest sponsored by NYS Department of Conservation that if anyone could identify all the birds painted on the wall they would win a free Conservation magazine subscription. Dick said he named all but one of the birds. When he was asked how come he didn’t know that one. He answered, “I never saw it.” To which he was told “That’s because it was a Labrador duck, which is extinct.” A few days later an article on 14 year old Dick Richardson appeared in the New York Times, which is why Wilbur Corwin appeared at his front door with the decoy. He said that “Dick had put Bellport on the map.” It is a cherished decoy in his collection.
The third decoy he showed was a black duck by carver, author and Bellport native Gene Connett. Dick said he got it four or five years ago when he was in Chicago. A dealer had the decoy for sale for $800, and Dick showed some interest in it. Trying to make a sale, the dealer said to Dick “You don’t know who the carver is, do you?” Dick responded “If I get the carver correct, will you sell it to me for $400?” The dealer agreed, so Dick told him the carver was Gene Connett of Bellport, New York. And Dick got the decoy for $400. (In the photo, the bird has the Best in Show ribbon on it. Circa 1937)
The final decoy Dick brought in was a half sized teal. Dick told a story that his older brother Harvey and some of his friends had taken a bird and a sign from the property of carver Gene Connett, who lived down the block from them. When he got home with them, their father sent him back to return them to Gene. When Harvey came back home he had the teal with him. Not long after that incident, Harvey joined the navy and took the teal with him. While serving on a ship, Harvey kept the teal above his locker. Sometimes when he sent a picture home he would have the teal in it with him. When Harvey was getting ill he gave the teal to Dick and told him “when you see the teal think of me.” Dick put the teal decoy at his beach house. He said “every time I see it, I think of my brother Harvey.”
Thank you to Dick for bringing in some of your favorite decoys and for sharing their sentimental stories with us.