Seldom am I totally, wonderfully charmed by a toy bear. But this one, called "Ms Bear" has gone right to my heart. Have you ever seen such a bear? It belongs to Pat and Dennis (now late) of Texas.
Pat and I share a common ancestor (Thomas Bradley of Schuyler Co, Missouri - 1792-1853). Through our many years of internet communication and research we have become the best of cousins as well as the best of friends. She has followed my blog since its inception in 2008. When she saw the blog on Jingle Bear, she sent me Ms Bear's picture along with the following e-mail, which I've asked her permission to reproduce.
I have my husband's Ms Bear, and I should have made her a new outfit for Christmas or should at least changed her and put one of the ones I have already made for her. I don't think I have changed her since Dennis died. I noticed her glasses were dirty the other day but haven't cleaned them yet....
I think we got Ms. Bear around 1995 or earlier. All the grandkids knew that they could play with any of the stuffed animals here except Ms Bear. When there were a lot here at one time, or dogs we didn't trust, she was put in the bedroom on the bed with her chair. She has a bentwood rocker he paid $10.00 for and a red pedal car that cost him $10.00.
Dennis saw her in a garage sale and wanted her, but figured he couldn't afford her, so he went on to work. By noon he had talked himself into paying up to $25 for her. I think he probably would have paid double that for her by then! He went back to the garage sale and finally asked the woman about her and how much she wanted for her. The woman told him part of the story about her: she was made from a blanket or coat and some of the bears were made as gifts and some were sold, but she didn't say how she got her originally. Then the lady told him that she hadn't put a price tag on her because she didn't want a little kid to get her and then not take care of her. She told Dennis the price - $2.50!
Dennis was SO proud of her and even took her to the lake when he went fishing. He always left her at the Marina so everyone knew when he was there. I had to make her a new outfit for all holidays. Once he took her to Massachusetts, where Dennis was born and raised and where some family still lived. He showed her to his little niece there. This niece is now grown up and will get her when I am ready to let her go....
I had heard that she was made by a woman here in Cleveland, Texas sometime around 1930 and/or 1940. I haven't been able to find out exactly, but her maker was written up in Texas Monthly Magazine sometime during the 1950's or early 60's. I would love to read the article but have only heard about it. If anyone has access to the Texas Monthly Magazines index or archives they might be able to find the article. It said this woman made bears from coats or blankets. I once saw a coat at an antique shop in Arkansas that looked like the fabic Ms Bear was made from, so I think she was made from a coat. One woman told me she had one of these bears that was made from a mink coat, but I am not sure if that was true or not. Not many fur coats in this part of Texas at that time, too hot and two humid here and nowhere to wear one.
I keep looking at this adorable and most interesting Ms Bear. She certainly has a charm that Jingle Bear does not have. I'm so pleased that Pat was able to share her picture and story with me. If any of you can come up with any clues as to her genesis, please e-mail me at Laughingallegra@aol.com and I'll forward these ideas on to my cousin Pat. Maybe together we can give Ms Bear a beginning and Pat a Christmas Present!