russell

My Singing Teddy Bear
by Sarah Russell

It’s not my story really.  It’s the story of World War II, of rations and factories retrofitted to make tanks and ammo. Then, the war’s aftermath in 1946, relief when the boys came home, toothpaste once again in metal tubes, the return of bananas and pineapples to Kroger’s.

A three-year-old who did not remember war and sacrifice wanted a bear for Christmas — not an ordinary bear —  a singing bear.  Her parents were dumbfounded.  Have you seen a singing teddy?  Yes, she said.  It sings “Jack and Jill.”

They searched high and low — no Google then, no Amazon or Toys R Us — but no singing bear could be found.

A week before Christmas, the little girl’s daddy walked to the drugstore nearby and remembered a tiny store farther down the block called The Cradle Shoppe that carried sterling rattles and smocked christening gowns for the town’s elite.  Men who worked in the factory like he did never thought of shopping there.

Do you have a teddy bear who sings, he asked.  I have one with a Swiss music box from before the war, the store owner said.  It’s been here so long it’s dusty now.  She found the little bear on a shelf and wound the key.  Sure enough, the bear played “Jack and Jill.” She told him a little girl had come by with her babysitter the summer before and had fallen in love with it.

I still have that bear I got for Christmas 70 years ago.  His fur is worn bare and darned around the key from singing me to sleep a thousand nights and more. With a little help, he still ekes out the tune, and I sing along.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My 70-year-old bear on his patchwork quilt.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I imagine for most of us, our most treasured possession isn’t something of great monetary value, but instead, something that reminds us of home.

sarah-russell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press, among others. She was a featured poet on The Houseboat and Days of Stone. More poetry at SarahRussellPoetry.com .