Toy bears were one of those serendipitous inventions that occured independently in two places, like the discovery of the structure of DNA, only cuter.

One source of origin was Germany early in the twentieth century. Toy manufacturer Margarete Steiff began to design and make toy bears based on her nephew's sketches of ursines in the local zoo. Her bears were fuzzy and brown, stuffed with excelsior, and had articulated shoulders and hips so their limbs could move. They had a real bear's humped back and long snout, with the familiar embroidered nose. In 1903 she displayed her bears at the Leipzig Trade Fair, and her wares so captivated an American buyer that he ordered 3000, a huge number at that time. By the end of that year the order had increased to 12,000 bears, and by 1907 the Steiff Company had sold over a million of the lovable toys. Today, rabid hordes of teddy collectors would kill to obtain a Steiff bear.

Meanwhile, in 1902 in the USA, president Theodore Roosevelt went bear hunting in Mississippi. He refused to shoot a chained orphaned cub, considering it unsportsmanlike. (Good for him.) The event was immortalized in a cartoon by Clifford Berryman of the Washington Post; it shows Roosevelt turning away from a cute bear with Mickey Mouse ears. The cartoon was seen by Rose Michtom, who along with her husband owned a toy store in Brooklyn; inspired, she would make a toy bear, put it in the window, and when it sold, would make another. Her bears had wide button eyes and soft plush fur. Her husband wrote to Roosevelt to ask permission to call the bear "Teddy", after him; permission received, they called the toys "Teddy's bear". This company's manufacture of the popular toy rocketed it to fame and fortune, first as the Ideal Toy and Novelty Company and later as the Ideal Toy Company.

America was soon swept by bear fever, just as later it would be Cabbage Patch Kids and beanie babies. Society women took them everywhere; Roosevelt was re-elected with a teddy as mascot; and the song "The Teddy Bears' Picnic" became a hit. American and German manufacturers vied to corner this lucrative market of what was now called the teddy bear, and the British manufacturer Farnell stepped in; they would be the makers of one very famous teddy, Winnie-the-Pooh. Bears were changing; boot-button eyes were replaced by glass, and excelsior stuffing by softer kapok. In the 1920s and 30s mechanical bears became popular; some of them danced and turned somersaults. The war years stopped the manufacture of German bears, though, and after the war consumers became interested in washable bears; hence bears began to be made of synthetic fibers. Although the modern mass-produced bear in insipid pastels (The Care Bears!) may have replaced the sturdy teddies of yesteryear in the hearts of today's children, teddy bears still inspire fierce loyalty and devotion amongst adult collectors, who travel the globe and spend obscene amounts of money to obtain tattered original brown bears.

I learned much of this information watching a fun documentary called "The Unnatural History of the Teddy Bear"; for written corroboration, see

re: Teddy Bear by Red Sovine

I know lyrics aren't the most popular thing on E2 but this song should definately be one of the exceptions to that rule. It has to be one of the most touching songs ever written. It's a story about a handicapped lil boy who's father was a truck driver. Out of loneliness after the death of his father, he reached out via his father's CB, this song is about a collective 'random act of kindness' by caring truckers. After the 200th time hearing this song I could listen without tearing up or choking up (sometimes)... but the song will always hold a special place in my heart. Lyrics or not it's one of the most touching stories I've ever heard. If you've never heard this song - you've missed out on something special I think.

The #1 hit Teddy Bear - was (of course!) nominated for single of the year by the Country Music Association in 1976. It was also rated #4 on the 1976 Radio & Records All-Time Charts.

It's clear I'm not the only one touched by this song, "Operation Teddy Bear" inspired by this song, is an annual event for the past 20 years where truckers "adopt" disabled residents in Salisbury, Marylandd.

The song didn't end with "Teddy Bear" however, a song " Teddy Bear's Last Ride" by Diana Williams followed. "Last Ride.." was about the death of Teddy Bear. Red responded to that song with the song "Little Joe" to prove that Teddy Bear was still alive, not only alive but had experienced a miracle and could walk, and was living his dream of driving a 18 wheeler.

Words and music by Dale Roy, Billy Joe Burnette, Red Sovine and Tommy Hill

Sung by Red Sovine (1976)

Teddy Bear

I was on the outskirts of a little southern town,
Trying to reach my destination before the sun went down.
The old CB was blaring away on channel one-nine
When there came a little boy's voice on the radio line.
And he said, "Breaker, one-nine, is anyone there?
Come on back, truckers, and talk to Teddy Bear."
Well, I keyed the mike and I said, "Well, you got it,Teddy Bear."
And the little boy's voice came back on the air.
"'Preciate the break. Who we got on that end?"
I told him my handle, and then he began:

"Now, I'm not supposed to bother you fellas out there,
Mom says you're busy and for me to stay off the air.
But, you see, I get lonely and it helps to talk
'Cause that's about all I can do. I'm crippled and I can't walk."

I came back and told him to fire up that mike
And I'd talk to him as long as he'd like.
"This was my dad's radio," the little boy said,
"But I guess it's mine and Mom's now 'cause my daddy's dead.
Dad had a wreck about a month ago.
He was trying to get home in a blinding snow.
Mom has to work now to make ends meet
And I'm not much help with my two crippled feet.
She says not to worry, that we'll make it all right,
But I hear her crying sometimes late at night.
You know, there's one thing I want more than anything else to see.
Aw, I know you guys are too busy to bother with me,
But, you see, my dad used to take me for rides when he was home
But I guess that's all over now since my daddy's gone."

Not one breaker came on the old CB
As that little crippled boy talked with me.
I tried hard to swallow, the lump just wouldn't stay down
As I thought about my boy back in Greenville town.

"Dad was gonna take Mom and me with him later on this year.
Why, I remember him saying, 'Someday this old truck'll be yours, Teddy Bear.'
But I know I'll never get to ride an 18-wheeler again,
But this old base will keep me in touch with all my trucker friends.
Teddy Bear's gonna back on out now and leave you alone
'Cause it's about time for Mom to come home.
But you give me a shout when you're passing through
And I'll sure be happy to come back to you."

Well, I came back and I said, "Before you go ten-ten,
What's your home-twenty, little CB friend?"
Well, he gave me his address and I didn't once hesitate
'Cause this hot load of freight was just gonna have to wait.
I turned that truck around on a dime
And headed straight for Jackson Street, 229.

And as I rounded the corner, boy, I got one heck of a shock--
Eighteen-wheelers were lined up for three city blocks!
Why, I guess every driver for miles around had caught Teddy Bear's call
And that little crippled boy was having a ball.
For as fast as one driver would carry him in,
Another would carry him to his truck and take off again.
Well, you better believe I took my turn at riding Teddy Bear
And then I carried him back in and put him down in his chair.
And, buddy, if I never live to see happiness again
I want you to know I saw it that day, in the face of that little man.

We took up a collection for him before his mama got home
And each driver said goodbye and then they were all gone.
He shook my hand with a mile-long grin
And said, "So long, trucker, I'll catch you again!"
I hit that interstate with tears in my eyes
And I turned on the radio and I got another surprise.
"Breaker, one-nine," came a voice on the air,
"Just one word of thanks from Mama Teddy Bear.
We wish each and every one a special prayer for you
'Cause you just made my little boy's dream come true.
I'll sign off now before I start to cry.
May God ride with you. Ten-four, and goodbye."

(Working on obtaining permission from BMI)

TEDDY BEAR (Legal Title) BMI Work #1464394
Songwriter/Composer Current Affiliation CAE/IPI #
Denotes BMI Award Winning Song!

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