Sunday, October 11, 2015

Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day: Bears I Have Known

October 12: Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day
Today is “Take Your Teddy Bear to Work” Day. Why not? Mine goes to work with me every single day by virtue of residing on top of the bookshelf in my study.  I’m rather attached to WriterBear, having created her at Build-a-Bear in Branson Landing on the way home from a writing conference.  But I have known other memorable bears in my lifetime. We’ll start from the beginning.

Ted Brown
Once a soft, cuddly little fellow with a yellow ribbon around his neck, Ted was a gift from my maternal grandfather the Christmas I was 3 or 4. I remember unwrapping him in the living room of my paternal grandparents’ home and having a bossy older cousin promptly instruct me on how to act with him--or something. Mostly I just remember resenting her interference with my delight. Shabby now with the trademark signs of being well-loved, Ted Brown sits on a shelf in the glass cabinet holding my treasured old books.
Ted Brown

Ted Red
I don’t remember where Ted Red came from or where he went, but he was big enough to use for a pillow, and I did until he was well-flattened.

Birthday Bear
That’s not really his name, but he never had one. My maternal grandmother gave all the granddaughters a musical bear for a special birthday. Mine came to me at age 10 shortly before she died in 1954.  He still plays, “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?”--much to the delight of the Small Person who likes to take him out of the cabinet where Ted Brown resides and give him a snuggle.

Birthday Bear
Barkley Bear
Barkley saw the light of day at Build-a-Bear in the Mall of the Americas in St. Paul MN while I was attending a “Gathering” for fans of the 60s television show “The Big Valley”. He spoke a single phrase (recorded in a bathroom to muffle the noise of the store) accompanied by the Big Valley-themed ringtone of a cell phone. “I said” he declared in a voice suspiciously like mine. This succinct phrase is attributed to family matriarch Victoria Barkley (played by Barbara Stanwyck). 
Alas, poor Barkley was bear-napped by another Valley Dweller. I would love to have him back as I doubt he is cherished as he once was and may eventually end up in the dust bin.  I’m sure it will never happen, so I can only remember him fondly.
Barkley Bear, Gone but Not Forgotten

This standard-sized bear belonged to my oldest son, a Christmas gift from a great-aunt when he was two or three. Teddy went everywhere with Son #1. Once a nice old gentleman at the grocery store tried to be friendly by saying, “That’s a fine bear. What’s his name?” My pint-sized son gave the old man a giant look of utter disdain and replied, “Teddy.”
Teddy courted serious danger one day when we arrived at the airport to fly home after a visit to my parents. There was no TSA in those days, but security was beginning to surface. A very nice older man at the gate inspected my purse and carry-on and then asked Son #1 kindly--and somewhat apologetically--if he could see Teddy.
Picture it: bottom lip out a mile, a stance which indicated imminent fleeing the scene, little eyes twice their normal size, and a death grip on one well-loved brown bear.  As he handed over poor Teddy (or perhaps I had to pry Teddy out of his hands) for a hand-held metal detector screening, I had a moment of horror. In those days, stuffed animals had well-padded metal rods in their arms and legs. What if--oh, what if they set off the wand, and the poor man has no choice but to disembowel the bear?
By some miracle, nothing happened, and we boarded the plane without further delay: a thoroughly traumatized Son #1, Teddy with all his stuffing untouched, and a much-relieved though still shaky Mom. 
Teddy is packed away at my son's house with his treasures and was unavailable for a photo session!

Take Your Teddy Bear to Work
They give us so much unconditional love and comfort. Give them the adventure of a lifetime. Take yours to work--that is, if you’re sure they’ll come back in one piece!

And remember--you’re never too old to love a teddy bear!
Never grow up--Never grow old!

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