So, I am on the wrong side of 30 but I still love those fluffy cuddly things that smile innocently from their crowded aisles in the toy store. I take great care of them and have names and clothes for every single one of them in my huge closet. The last time I counted I had good two digit number. Yet, when one hot summer afternoon, I discovered a terrible truth of ageing (a silver strand of hair amidst my black crowning glory) I knew that very instant, it was time to live some of the childhood dreams.
One of the many dreams I had was to own a big fluffy bear my size – or at least half my size.
That very evening, we went to get the bear of my dreams. My son and I took turns to check on every single cuddly one. At last, we settled on a big 58 inch light brown bear with an enormous bow and huge eyes.
The bear looked adoringly sweet and in the next instant ‘he’ was sat on the back seat of the car with the seat belt fastened. We had to now find the perfect name for ‘him’. My son asked, “are you going to call him Teddy?” Well, I knew that it would not be Teddy because, I didn’t want a former US president in my house.
I had sometime back visited a Teddy Bear Exhibition which gave us the history of why the cuddly bears are called Teddy bears. The story has it that Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th US President once went bear hunting in Mississippi.
After having found no bears, one of the men, finally tied an old wounded bear to a tree and got the president to do the deed. But, the president with all his good heart did not shoot the animal. Instead, he ordered the animal to be killed without pain as the bear was already suffering. This incident in 1902 became very popular so much so, that a political cartoonist by name Barryman, illustrated this very event in his cartoons. Soon, a cuddly bear replaced the big bear that appeared in the first cartoon.
The popular bear in America was still called a bear. The first teddy bear however was made by a candy and novelty store owner in New York. Michtom and his wife Rose ran a small store in Brooklyn where they also sold, hand made bear toys. Michtom, sent President Roosevelt, a bear and asked him if he could call it ‘Teddy Bear’. The president, then, not thinking much of it, gave him the consent, and the first Teddy Bear was born. Michtom, then, started to mass produce teddy bears and within a year, he started his very own company called the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
Interestingly, today, almost all bears are called teddy bears. Some of the story books refer to bears as Teddy or Ted and it is all understood. It is now synonymous to the bear. Some people even refer to anything fluffy as a teddy! The most famous bear of all is Winnie the Pooh.
I love Pooh Bear too. I love the way, the red t shirt falls on him. I love his peaceful face and his whole group of friends. I think the 100 acre wood would be one happy place in real life.
Of course, the big bear seated behind me was in real time that I could huddle and cuddle. The 58 inch bear, could not walk or talk in real. But I still had to name him. The only name that crossed my mind was Sigma.
Sigma, is the 18th letter of the Greek alphabet. The upper case Sigma denotes summation in mathematics. In my case, Sigma is the summation of all my childhood dreams. Today, I can declare with pride that he has lived up to his name. So truly Sigma.