By Diane Forrest,
Today is a day that is near and dear to me...and my state, Mississippi. Today is Teddy Bear Day. The story goes that back in November, 1902, Mississippi Governor Andrew Longino invited President Theodore Roosevelt to Mississippi to go bear hunting. Well apparently there were a group of men hunting, and most of the other hunters had already shot a bear. Not wanting the President to be outdone, his staff cornered and clubbed a sickly old black bear, and tied it up to a tree for him to shoot. President Roosevelt would have none of that, saying it was unsportsmanlike. He did however insist they put the bear out of his misery.
When the press got hold of the story, they of course tried to make something out of nothing, and printed a cartoon that infered some sort of racial undertones. Mr. Morris Michtom saw the cartoon and made a stuffed bear, put it in his store window with a sign saying Teddy's Bear. He of course obtained permission from the President to use his name. The toy became an immediate success and Mr. Michtom went on to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
At the same time, in Germany, Mr. Richard Steiff also created a bear, but due to poor communications at the time, he was unaware of Mr. Michtom's bear, so there is some disagreement who invented the first bear. They were all widely popular, and even President Roosevelt used one as a mascot during his re-election campaign.
Teddy bears remain popular today, there is a Build a Bear Workshop, where customers can design their own bear, and there is a Teddy Bear Cop patrol. They provide bears to children who have been in a fire, accident or other types of emergency situations to help calm them and ease their fears.
In the 1980's and 90's popular bears included Teddy Ruxpin and the Care Bears. Teddy Ruxpin was a battery operated bear that would tell you stories when a cassette tape was placed in the compartment in his back. His mouth would move, and you could change his clothes. The Care Bears were a cartoon that featured several different colored bears who would go on all kinds of adventures. One of the restaurant chains offered glasses with the different care bears on them. My father, ever the comedienne, got my 4 little girl cousins each a cute glass with sweetly named bears such as Cheer Bear, Friend Bear, Funshine Bear and Tenderheart Bear, however for everyone else, they all got the same glass, the Grumpy Bear!
I have included pictures of some of my special teddy bears, my "nurse" bears, my sweet little lady bear, and my husband's "baby" bear. I had to kidnap "baby bear" and ransom him off for some chocolate because my husband wouldn't share his Hershey’s kisses. I only asked for 2 or 3 pieces, but was offered the whole bag for the safe return of baby bear.
Today, on Teddy Bear Day, why don't you share some of your favorite bear stories with us.