Monday, December 31, 2007

Teddy Turns Fifty

It's amazing how a gift can lead to a lifetime of memories. This is my niece's favorite toy, a small yellow teddy bear appropriately named "Teddy," at age fifty. Here's his story:

It all began in December, 1957. I was a spinster school teacher in West Virginia (actually, I was only twenty-five, but earlier marriage was in vogue then) when I got the news that I had become an aunt. My younger brother and his wife were the proud parents of a baby girl, Cynthia Marshall. They lived in Iowa City, Iowa, where my brother was a graduate student.

Since Cindy was born on December 22, my Christmas vacation was the perfect time for a visit. Of course I knew nothing about babies, but I knew that a gift was appropriate. I headed for a toy department (Marshall Field's in Chicago, as I remember). I'm not sure why I was there--I didn't live in Chicago then, but I was probably visiting my parents in nearby southeastern Wisconsin. The store clerk suggested a very small, soft, washable yellow teddy bear as the perfect gift for a small baby. I bought it. Thus was Teddy born. I planned a trip to Iowa City to see the new arrival.

It was love at first sight when Cindy saw Teddy. From that day, he lived in a corner of her crib. As she moved along to larger beds, he was always her companion. Somewhat tattered, he endured a bit of repair work and even accompanied Cindy to college at Texas Lutheran.

Cindy remained in Texas after graduation and married, and I was barely in touch with her over the years. Of course I had forgotten Teddy, as I'd long ago forgotten any toys I might have had myself. As it turned out, Cindy remembered.

In 2005, I made my first holiday trip to Houston, Texas, to visit Cindy, her husband Scott Truby, and my grand-niece Lauren. Imagine my surprise to learn that Teddy still existed! By then, Teddy--and Cindy--were forty-eight years old, and I was seventy-three. I mentally filed away the fact of Teddy's survival, but I didn't actually see him then. Cindy delighted in telling me about him.

This year, I decided to take a picture of Teddy to commemmorate his fiftieth birthday. How proud I was at age seventy-five to realize that at least once, I'd found the perfect gift, one that has lasted for fifty years. Happy birthday, Teddy and Cindy, and I'll hope to see you both again next year!

Holding Cindy in 1957. Note the 1950's clothes and hairstyle. I don't look very comfortable!

Cindy sleeps while Teddy keeps watch.

Cindy holds Teddy.

My Niece, Cindy Truby, at Fifty (with new tree Santa)

Copyright 2007 by Marlys Marshall Styne.
Photos by John Marshall and others unknown, 1957 and 2007


Anonymous said...

Very cool! Thanks!

--Larry W. Phillips


seniorwriter said...

Thanks. I see from your web site that you're a a fellow Wisconsinite, and that you wrote about Hemingway and Fitzgerald. I do don't do much scholarly writing any more, but I loved both those authors.

Poker? I never quite got that, but then I'm an old lady. Happy New Year to you and your family.

seniorwriter said...

What a great story about my Teddy. It's funny but just knowing he is in the house makes everything seem right after all these years. Or maybe it's my life line to youth....Can't wait till you next story

Cindy :)

Ritergal said...

Oh, my, I'm so impressed that you chose such a durable gift! And what a treat that you are writing about it. This Teddy looks like he'd still be a perfect gift.

But ... I don't see his birthday picture after all. Maybe later, when you visit again? (Winter in Chicago sounds like a great reason to visit Texas, which I'm about to do.)

seniorwriter said...

Ritergal: That is his birthday picture--the top one. It's a flattering picture, but despite all he's gone through, Teddy still looks good! He's not as fluffy as he used to be, however, and he's had a face life or two.

Ritergal said...

Oops! My bad. I see now that the early photo is his birthday picture. Somehow I'd expected to see him in Cindy's hands. He has aged wonderfully well.

Paul @ Elders Tribune said...

what a wonderful story! And Teddy has indeed aged very well. He looks pretty much new to me in the picture.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

Those were the days,weren't they? Is that a stack of cloth diapers I see in the background? ~Karen

seniorwriter said...

Yes, Karen, I imagine that is, indeed, a stack of cloth diapers. I don't suppose that any other kind existed back then.

Ritergal said...

Pampers, the pioneer disposable, underwent product testing around 1964. I remember that, because the daughter of family friends was married to a product engineer at Proctor & Gamble, and their first-born was packaged in Pampers as part of the testing program. Two years later, I tried disposables as we drove across the country with our four-week-old first-born. The story of the disaster than ensued as we sat in a restaurant in Omaha ... I feel a blog coming on!

seniorwriter said...

Thanks, Ritergal. Since I never had children, I have no personal knowledge of such things, but I'm glad to inspire more blog posts.