Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Don't Collect Bears, Really

I borrowed that title from Lizzie because it seemed so appropriate.

My first bear was BooBoo. I got him for Valentine's Day when I was four. He was pink but I knew he was a boy because he had a blue ribbon around his neck. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of BooBoo.

One day, our grandmother and mother decided to go shopping in the Big City and for some reason didn't want to take us, so they bribed us by promising us each a present if we stayed home. (Our grandfather was left in charge of us--his method of babysitting was to leave us alone as long as we didn't yell or fight. Possibly Big Sis was there too, but she kept as far away from us as possible. Fortunately we were fairly well-behaved children.) I said I wanted overalls for BooBoo.  You didn't see many dressed bears back in those days and I have no idea where I got the idea.

When they returned, my mom said she hadn't been able to find overalls so she got BooBoo a dress! A pink dress, I might add. I was disappointed but I put his dress on him and he wore it manfully for the rest of his life.

We had lots and lots of stuffed animals through the years. (I remember thinking, when Auntie Berman stopped sleeping with all of hers, that I would never stop sleeping with mine. Eventually I did!) I never singled out bears as my favorite stuffed animals, though.

Then about 6 or 7 years ago, Auntie Berman and I were at Salvation Army Thrift Shop when I saw Bertie. I was quite taken with him and got him (for 50 cents) and carried him around with me all day. And somehow, I've been adopting bears ever since.

Bertie and the Russian bear.
When my nephew went to Russia, he brought me back a Panda bear. It is to his credit that he was not the least bit embarrassed to carry a giant bear around the airports.

Now the story takes a tragic turn. I had several large bears and really no room for them. At the time I was driving a Volkswagen Vanagon, which I loved dearly. It's the only car I've ever bonded with. I put all my big bears in the van, where they rode around happily for months. Then Husband-Like Person decided to change the fuel filter in the gas tank. It was growing dark and he had a Halogen work light. (Can you guess what this is leading up to?) Suddenly he came running in the door yelling "Call the fire department!"

My bears were in there.
Some gasoline had leaked out and run into the light. HLP barely got out from under the van in time. He and Tom-next-door struggled to move Tom's propane tank out of danger. The fire trucks arrived but they couldn't put the fire out, because Volkswagens have magnesium engines (or something) and they just had to let it burn and make sure nothing else caught on fire. The ambulance arrived and took HLP to have his burned hand looked after. Meanwhile, the dogs and I huddled by the back fence, hoping for the best. We couldn't get out the front gate and there was a 5 1/2 foot fence around the rest of the yard. A neighbor across the street took this picture on his cell phone. He actually had a video but I've lost that somewhere along the way.

Eventually the fire died down and things went back to as normal as possible. Our very kind landlord only charged us for the cost of the boards to rebuild the fence, since his maintenance guys did the work. A friend towed the remains of the Vanagon to Pick & Pull, who agreed to take it off our hands for free (they didn't really want it, for some reason).  And I mourned the loss of my bears.

Ever since then, I just can't resist cute bears when I see them and they need rescuing. At one time I had over 50 bears!

Bears, bears, everywhere bears!
And more bears!
While looking through my bear pictures I realized I had culled them about a year ago.

But somehow, the number kept creeping up. So I made Auntie Berman help me cull the herd once more. Of course we couldn't say out loud "That one's not really very cute," but we just nodded or shook our heads as I held up each one. We finally got them down to a manageable number: 20. (That number may be slightly higher now.) We gave the unwanted bears to a church lady who helps at a food pantry/soup kitchen place. She was going to give them out to the children.

The overhead bears
The underneath bears
Madison is the ballerina bear on the left. She is the only one who has a name. I have attempted to name bears for years but I always forget who is named what, except for Madison. I don't go out of my way to dress the bears. Some of them come with clothes and sometimes I just try something on that I already have. I did make Madison's skirt out of pink netting.

Madison in winter, wearing a sweater that her auntie made.

All the bears are having a picnic.
The bear next to Lulu is one of my favorites--he looks so happy and growly.
He's not as threatening as he looks. He said something when his paw was squeezed but I removed
his voice box. It wasn't working well and he's happier without it.

I will end with a picture of Ceddie, because I can.

Lulu and Gordy got safari hats. Ceddie got a circus wagon.


  1. That is a lot of bears! I got rid of my bears but bears seem to always creep back into the house don't they.

    1. They sure do! Especially if you're shopping with someone who says "It's just a little bear and won't take up much space."

  2. What a rollicking story of your bear collecting adventures Audra! I love the bear in the overhead bears section who looks like her face has been loved-off by a previous owner. It is good to know bears can go on to another life with a grateful new owner. Thanks for the mention in your blog post. Lizzie. :-)

    1. Yes, that bear looked like it had been loved to death, so of course I couldn't leave her at the Bargain Bin!

  3. P.s. Always good to see dear Ceddie!