Cherry Saturday, November 15, 2019

Today is Have a Party with Your Bear Day, which I would have every Thursday if I didn’t put the garbage out at the crack of dawn instead of the night before. Otherwise, I am tragically bear free.

I’m pretty sure Mollie still has her authentic original-design Pooh (not the toxic gold Disney version) from England my mother bought her when she was born–I know she took it to college with her even though it had lost an eye by then–but I have no memory of having a teddy bear myself, which I think explains all of my mental issues and why I keep buying stuffed animals now–dragons, bunnies, Eeyores–and why my fave is still the stuffed armadillo that Lisa Kelypas gave me. Bear Yearning. Except on garbage mornings. Then they can take a hike.

Do you still have your childhood bear/whatever? She asked wistfully.

48 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, November 15, 2019

  1. My son’s childhood bear was — drumroll — an armadillo! Named Sniffy. He definitely still has it, although he also had the usual repertoire of modern American stuffed animals and all of those are long since gone. But Sniffy was special. I think he loved it best because it didn’t have fur, it was just soft fabric.

    My dog’s childhood bear equivalent was a mallard duck toy that lasted a solid decade. Every night she would lick it before falling asleep. Somehow I lost it somewhere in Texas and for the next several nights, she roamed around the van whimpering before finally giving up and going to sleep. Much maternal guilt there, but eventually I found a squirrel that she was reluctantly willing to accept as a replacement. I still regret the duck, though. And even more, am puzzled by the fact that we owned the duck for literally ten years — from when she was almost a puppy — and yet it never occurred to me to name it.

    12+
  2. Childhood teddy bears are special, I had a little orange one that wore dungarees and my brother had a classic brown and white . We never really go the hang of naming toys. Being a girl, when I grew up I put my precious bear in the toy shelf in my cupboard and still treasure it. My brother grew up and put his in the general toy box in my little sister’s room and pretended he didn’t care about it, until my mother had a clear out of the toys my sister didn’t play with and teddy was going to end up in a plastic bag in the garage. He got quite upset and insisted vehemently my sister still played with it. We let him pretend and my mum left it in the box.

    11+
  3. My bear is the one my mother was given by a friend for her twenty-first, to replace the childhood one her mother had thrown away when Mum left home to study nursing in London (Granny wanted her to stay safe at home and teach piano).

    My father told me his name was Edward Bear, Teddy for short. He lost his squeak when I dropped him on the compost heap while climbing a tree, aged four, and Mum insisted on putting him in the washing machine. His fur was never quite the same either.

    He sits on the chest of drawers opposite my bed; he slid sideways the other day and I had to rescue him, but mostly we respect each other’s space. Very occasionally, when things are really bad, I take him to bed with me. He’s the only childhood toy I’ve kept.

    15+
  4. Mine is a Raggedy Ann. She was loved on so much my mother had to completely redo her from head to toe. Twice! She is the only Raggy I know that has red checked legs instead if striped!

    8+
  5. The only bear we have is the one my guy was given as a baby 76 years ago (Ha, Jane, ours is older). It has no name and is slightly moldy smelling and I think we would get rid of it, except his sister would have a fit (IT”S A FAMILY HEIRLOOM) since she is very sentimental about family stuff. If anyone in the family had collected chewing gum wrappers, his family would insist the collection be preserved because it’s a family heirloom.

    6+
    1. I can sympathize — my brother and I are working our way through our late mother’s attic and trying to find forever homes for things. This week I repatriated a photo of a couple whom I never knew — but luckily their names were on it. Ancestry.com provided me with a wedding record for them, and their marriage certificate, where my grandparents were listed as the witnesses. Happily, Ancestry also provided me with a small family tree that included them, and I sent a message to the tree’s owner. She turns out to be the granddaughter of the bride’s sister and named after her, so I sent the picture and a printout of the certificate. One more FAMILY HEIRLOOM taken care of.

      5+
    2. Not a real solution but have you thought about sending it to a teddy bear doctor? At the very least it could get a real cleaning and not smell bad anymore.

      0
  6. The only bear I remember was a big (bigger than me when I was about five years old), white polar bear that my dad won at a carnival. It didn’t stay white for obvious reasons, and when I was about twelve, my mother disappeared it. Yeah, I’m still holding a grudge.

    12+
  7. As far as I know, my bear actually made his first appearance when my mother found him near the garbage that had already been put out by other people. Now that I think about it, that does seem quite appropriate for a bear. I either was about to be born or still a baby at that point; I’ll have to ask her to tell me the story again.

    My Pooh was originally pink, because you can still see traces of that colour if you look closely at his seams. As long as I can remember, though, he’s been yellow. He’s made of fleece, so he’s wool on the outside and where that’s worn down, he’s sheep’s leather. At some point, he acquired a light blue robe (probably designed to be a shirt for a large doll), because he’d got worn from living with me and I wanted to try to protect him a bit better. I used to tell him everything, and he was always full of comforting words and useful advice.

    Unfortunately, his wool makes him vulnerable to clothes moths so he now lives inside several plastic bags, inside a cupboard.

    9+
  8. I have lost a multitude of bears, and don’t know where any of them went. My original, I barely (pun intended) remember because he had a zip pocket in his back that I am told had a music box in it. I only remember the pocket – no idea what happened to the bear. All my friends still had their childhood stuffed animals, so I asked for one for my 16th birthday, to start over, as it were. My dear mother found me an excellent koala. Apparently didn’t take it with me when I left home and no idea where it went – probably nieces. I have done better at keeping track of my toys since, and have a doll house, wooden doll, and a small collection of stuffed animals I kept after decided I had way too many and donating a huge box full. Oh, and I have three plastic trolls, which were very hot when I was young. These aren’t as good as my original ones, but still glad I have them. Glad I have all my toys.

    10+
  9. I had a rabbit, a biped rabbit, that must have started out with clothing, but ended up with none. Her name was Pete Suzie, and I’ve never figured why I called him that. I still can’t arrive on a gender. S/he disappeared on one of our moves.

    7+
    1. A three year old I know named her biped rabbit “Pink”. Her favorite uncle in “Uncle Pink”. And when asked what superhero she wanted to be for Halloween decided she would be “Pink dress man”. If something works, you might as well stick with it.

      8+
  10. I have 3 Cabbage Patch dolls I got when they were hot. I was in high school, but my younger sister LOVED them. So I got some too. After marriage and kid, they are now dressed in my daughter’s baby clothes.

    Daughter has Dollie. She was a gift from dear friends when Liz was born, and all the stuffing is in her head and feet, leaving her middle pretty empty. She is carefully checked each night to make sure she didn’t get lost. The receiving blanket Liz loved lives in her pillowcase.

    5+
  11. My son has a glowing yellow Disney Pooh bear. Pooh-a is essential for sleep so we bought a backup just in case something happened to him. Apparently he is Pooh-a’s cousin Pancake. The original Pooh-a has had his nose replaced, body restuffed and a new jumper handknit. I don’t think Disney intended him to last for 11 years but although Pancake subs from time to time, Pooh-a is still top bear.

    7+
    1. My favorite WtP cartoon shows Pooh walking along, leaving footprints, and looking back at Piglet. The caption reads:
      “Oh Bother,” said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead. – From Winnie the Pooh and the Zombie Apocolypse.

      4+
  12. I still have the bear my mom made for me shortly before I was born – he was a little bit bigger than I was, then. He slept in my bed until I was 13 or 14, and not only the fur was worn off, but the fabric underneath wore through in multiple places and became too weak to darn (I learned darning for him!). Then my mom made him a new skin from the same sort of pale-beige furry fabric.
    After that I tried to save him from getting worn out again by keeping him on my bed, but not sleeping with him. Four decades later, he’s still around, still permanently squinting with his black and white felt eyes from the chair in the bedroom.

    9+
  13. There is no toy nor plushie that lasted any significant time in my life. Part of that was being a Navy brat. By the time I had joined the Navy myself (age 19), I had moved… 15 times that I’m sure of. Oh! Add two more for going to college and coming home.

    I recall a Gabby Hayes doll during a hospital stay for a hernia that advanced to measles. That may have belonged to the children’s ward. That should carbon date that hospital visit, nicely. That and there was a TV showing Mickey Mouse Club before Annette had boobs.

    My favorite toy for years was American Plastic Bricks, a precursor for Legos.

    4+
  14. I had a garish yellow rabbit in a garish tartan dress. His eyes were lost at some point, and I was glad to push him into a corner and turn to the more comforting world of books and stories by the time I turned four.

    But later, when I was 14 I was sent to stay with some family friends in Germany for the summer. The guidance from my mother on what to buy and bring back for family members included a teddy bear for my 7-year old sister, and my budget only stretched to a small bear — about 8 inches/20 centimeters. Turned out she was very pleased with him, and gave him the name “James P. Hotfellow”. My aunt knit him cardigan jumpers, I made him a home from a cigar box, and over the years he acquired a wife (“Mrs. Hotfellow”) and many a yard-sale accessory. My sister still has him 50-some years later, and he’s a treasured part of her childhood.

    And I still have my Winnie the Pooh books, which make me equally happy.

    8+
  15. My nephew died last week (he was 28), and we’ve flown to Melbourne for the funeral. In the rush to pack, I (unbelievably) forgot my daughter’s bunny. She’s 11 and shouldn’t still need it really, but she’s slept with it every night forever, and these things are ever more important away from home at a difficult time.

    A few months ago, my nephew was put on a drug derived from rabbits (anti-rejection drug), and his mum bought him a cuddly rabbit toy as a joke (ish). Yesterday, she gave it to my daughter so she could sleep with it. I’m crying even writing this. Your post on teddies is bizarrely perfectly timed.

    23+
    1. I am so sorry for your loss. Someday when the grief is less I hope you will be able to look at the bunny and remember your nephew and his mom joking about it and the incredible kindness of his mother reaching past her own sorrow to offer comfort to your daughter by letting her have it.

      15+
    2. Oh! Condolences to you, your family (extended), and especially your daughter. Love this whole story. Except for the death part.

      8+
  16. I didn’t have a bear growing up (which probably explains a lot).

    I have two in my house now. One is a Winnie the Pooh holding a honey pot, which used to play the Winnie the Pooh theme years ago, but no longer does. I think I got it for my stepdaughter when she was little, and she left it behind at my house. I never had the heart to get rid of it. Love me some WtP. I was the official Winnie the Pooh aunt in my family when my nieces and nephew were young.

    The other is a standard brown Teddy bear that I gave my college boyfriend, who was the love of my life. I was more sentimental than he was, but he liked that bear and named him Cleroy. (Don’t ask me why.) When my boyfriend died and his parents let me take whatever I wanted after the funeral, Cleroy was one of the few things I kept. The bear is still hanging out in my guestroom, humming quietly to himself and reading all the books.

    13+
  17. I’m sure they’re still around, but my mom is a hoarder so I can’t even get into my childhood bedroom any more to access them. Sigh.

    What I remember is that they would try to do “Teddy Bear picnic” in elementary school and every damn year it would be rained out and we couldn’t do it. Why did they keep doing this in winter? Why not wait until like, May?

    10+
  18. When I was little (probably pre-K) my Dad went to a real estate convention in Chicago where he and my Mom met a couple from Adelaide, Australia. In their post convention travels they came to our house for dinner and brought 3 stuffed koala bears, one for each daughter. We named them Koo, Walla and Taplin(the name of the couple who gave them to us). They were the best stuffed animals ever because they came in graduated sizes, just like us, and they were covered in real fur (who knows what kind). My Mom swears I loved the fur right off of Baby Koo, but I have no idea how many years that took.

    But the grand champion of teddy bears in my family is my niece, Annie. She had acres of stuffed animals as a kid, but her favorites have always been 2 bears, Ted and Vanilla. They have been with her through college, grad school, marriage and divorce.

    7+
  19. I still have a Gund bear my fiancé gave me when we were engaged. Very soft and cuddly. Just called Bear. I used it as a focal device when in labor with my first-born son. (You know, stare at the focal, breathe, and work through the pain…. yeah, sure!) Since my son is now 30, well, that’s at least how old Bear is. Note: I divorced the man, but kept Bear!

    7+
  20. I didn’t have a bear, I had a bunny that I got the Easter I was two. He has a yellow face and ears on a pink rose chintz body. His name is Bunny Rose. And yes, despite his coloration, I was quite emphatic that he was indeed a boy bunny. I still have him, though he is packed away because he’s in his 40s now and having been darned and mended multiple times by my grandma, he is quite fragile.

    7+
  21. I can’t remember a bunny or a teddy bear, I must have had one, but, I do remember the little baby doll with clothes mom sewed for a Christmas gift. I still have it. Also, have my favourite book given to me by the best family friends ever – Winnie Wombat by Isobel St Vincent. I was 7. Pride of place in the bookcase.

    5+
  22. You’d think because my childhood nickname was Teddy I’d be SHOWERED with gift bears. Humph. You’d think wrong. I’m not especially scarred from lack of cuddly bears; I had he consolation of a book all the way from exotic Australia portraying a baby wallaby and his mother. On later visits to Australia, its various parts, I’ve learned the book was All True. It was also perfectly huggable.

    5+
  23. I think I had a koala that ended up very worn. I’ve only got vague memories of it so I guess I was pretty young.

    When I was a bit older I had an octopus pyjama case that I loved. I think it came from Nana. No idea whether I declared it an octopus or she did. It had 8 legs, sure, but they were striped brown and yellow. Looking back, definitely a spider. I was never scared of spiders but maybe the adults in my life didn’t want to risk it.

    6+
  24. Well, I had a “Pooh” Bear in striped pjs and a nightcap that was loved and mended and amended as things wore through. He lived right into the middle of my bed until we were both 28, at which point, my puppy disemboweled him. My mom thought I’d be heartbroken, but I was so enamored of that pup (who grew into my once-in-a-lifetime dog, the one I still miss every day) that I barely blinked.
    The first Christmas we were together, my husband made a little lion talk to me at Toys R Us, and I took him home and named him Rutherford and took him on all my business trips. 6 years later, I propped him in my 3mo’s crib, and she fell in love. 4 1/2 years after that, she lost him. We tore the house apart, she cried, I cried, and eventually we replaced him with a bigger lion named Charlemagne, who still sleeps with her every night. 6 years after that, my youngest found him in the back of a closet shelf that I swear I’d dusted and cleaned more than once. He now takes pride of place in her bed. Damn little lion. He went walkabout. He’s always been a mischief, but I love him, and so do my girls.

    9+
  25. Back when I lived in Minneapolis, I worked nights and weekends at a toy store. The store was in a renovated warehouse that had bars and retail on the bottom 2 floors and offices on the floors above. We carried a gorgeous Italian line of stuffed animals called Trupo (?) that made a big somewhat floppy bear in a coppery brown color with the most soulful eyes you could ever imagine. Sometimes, if foot traffic was slow on a Saturday afternoon, the manager would have me walk around the atrium wearing the bear in an infant front pack and see who I could lure back into the store.
    I think that the technique backfired on her though, because she ended up feeling that she had to buy the bear and it was, even with an employee’s discount, not at all cheap.
    I made her promise me I could come visit him because I had wanted to buy the bear, too.

    5+
  26. You know, reading all these tales of beloved bears and tigers and even Koalas and wallabies (or am I wrong about the latter two having quite effective claws and defensive instincts?) makes me suddenly wonder why we always give very young children dangerous and/or predatory animals to cuddle at night. For thousands of years and many generations, we have befriended and been befriended by first dogs and then cats, who you would think might become beloved pet-friends of babies and toddlers, but instead we’ve got them cuddling powerful totem animals.

    Is it the same thing as football team mascots for schoolboys? Making them feel the potential of being big hulking monster players even though they’re nervous and feel weak every time they face opponents? Or… just why on earth do we do this?

    7+
    1. Could it have to do with anthropomorphising animals in stories, and it’s maybe the ones we know least about that we find it easy to anthropomorphise most? I’m thinking even as far back as animal fables, they tend to be about animals other than dogs and cats. Maybe dogs and cats are humanised enough for us already, due to domestication. So maybe we’re trying to domesticate wild animals in these stories/make them understandable to us?

      But in romance, it’s wearwolves and wearbears which are most common. You don’t get wear-domesticated dogs and wear-housecats. So maybe there it’s about the thrill of the Other. Which is not going to be the reason for giving soft toys to little children.

      Maybe for children’s toys there’s a vague feeling that a wild animal might adopt the child and be fierce on its behalf to protect it, like Romulus and Remus with a wolf mother?

      I’m speculating wildly, sorry!

      5+
  27. Also, I think The Velveteen Rabbit is pretty much compulsory reading for every child? The story of how love gives life to our soft toys is pretty timeless.

    It just might break the hearts of those who missed out though! (Saying that, my son never picked a favourite and doesn’t seem any the worse for it).

    3+
  28. I just went to visit my goddess-daughter (I’m her Fake Aunt Debbie) today on the occasion of her 13th birthday. One of her friends had just gifted her with a bear almost as big as she is. Very impressive.

    5+
  29. I didn’t have a bear, but I did have a stuffed dog, named Dogus, who is still with me, he lives in the cupboard, but gets a pat every now and then.

    3+
  30. I had a beloved teddy bear, named Teddy. My parents didn’t like me having him, and urged me to give him up. I wouldn’t, so when we moved house, they threw him away when my back was turned and pretended he just somehow got lost. The only thing that somehow got lost.

    1+
  31. I have and treasure my sister’s teddy bear. She died in her early 20s, too young to have acquired a lot of possessions and so he is one of the few tangible things that I can look at, smile and think “Sis.” The next two generations, born after she passed, of course have no idea why this tatty “Teddy” is in the living room and that’s OK.

    2+
  32. I’m late to this thread, but wanted to admit that in 8th grade I fell in love with a teddy bear at Montgomery Ward. My mother told me I was too old for teddy bears, then gave it to me for Christmas. It went with me to the hospital for surgery, to college, and now lives quietly in my bedroom, a well-loved and scraggly bear.

    0
  33. I didn’t have a bear, but I received a pink stuffed bulldog for my 7th birthday. I think I may still have it packed away somewhere.

    I just inherited my grandmother’s Steiff bear that is well over 100 years old. The feet were patched, but everything else is original. I only wish my mother hadn’t died so that I inherited it.

    0
  34. I still have my two bears. One, a baby shower gift before I was born, is a little black and white guy named GB. No idea why. He had a plastic nose and mouth which I chewed off pretty early, so he got restuffed frequently with whatever fabric my mom had left over from making all our clothes. If you unstuffed him, you’d find, among other things, the flannel pajamas from when I was 7 and Barbie clothes from when I was 5, which is as important as the bear itself. At almost 60, he’s really fragile, but very treasured.

    The other is gigantic, a big brown fuzzy thing. He was a Christmas gift from my aunt Sue when I was 6 months old, and there’s a great photo of all of us sitting on the couch together. He was so big that he took up an extra seat on the bus on their way home from the toystore. He had a bunch of different names over the years, and I think I finally stopped sleeping with him when I was in high school. She died a couple of years ago, and I just realized as I was writing this her birthday would have been this week. She had a tough, tough life, but she would give you the shirt off her back, even if she had to do without to give it. I miss her so much.

    Must go find my bears and have a good cry. Thanks, I really needed this!

    0

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