First Love and All that Stuff

KANGA TIGGER POOH PIGLET EEYOREBear with me for a second.

I love my family and friends. I love my husband best of all, but he wasn’t there in the beginning. When we talk about first loves, I have to skip anyone I’ve ever been on a date with, the boys I mooned over in junior high, the celebrity boys whose pictures from Tiger Beat were taped to my wall. (I was a Sean Astin girl, and will never be talked out of that.) We have to go way back, past first best friends April and Jenny, past even Michael Downey, my first grade love, wherever he is now. We have to go all the way back.

What I loved best was my Pooh bear.

I’ve written about my Pooh bear before (quoting Pooh stories for writing inspiration, and bonus bitch-face photo of me at a young age). My Pooh bear is basically my childhood. One of the reasons I can clearly say it was my first love is because it was given to me at my birth. That bear was there in the beginning, yo.

But it wasn’t just a stuffed animal. My Pooh bear became a character in my family, a real presence with attitude and a point of view. She—yes, my Pooh bear is a girl, you got a problem with that?—had things to say about everything, and she was the heroine of every story.  My dad made her move around and talk back, and pretty soon she was leading a menagerie of lesser stuffed animals in adventures and mischief. And when she got in trouble, she was not sorry.

I truly believe this is one of the ways I became a writer. I was a shy kid, but I told myself stories all the time, through the Pooh bear and otherwise, and eventually on paper. The other way I became a writer, of course, was that I became a reader early on. Reading is my lifelong true love.

Luckily I also got a Boy to love, as well. Our 11th wedding anniversary is this week. We got married in New York City (on top of the Empire State Building!), which is where the original Pooh stuffed animals—the ones that A.A. Milne moved around and made talk for Christopher Robin—are on display, at the New York Public Library at 42nd and 5th. The same library my husband and I went to the day after our wedding. (Hey, we know what we like. We like books. Also, it was really cold in New York that February.) I wish I’d known Pooh was in the house when we were at the NYPL, but through careful husbanding of my own Pooh bear through the years, she is still in my house now, one of the few artifacts of my childhood I still have, and cherish.

Did you have a favorite childhood object? Do you still have it?

 

Image of original Winnie the Pooh characters from www.huffingtonpost.com

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Lori Rader-Day is the author of the mystery THE BLACK HOUR (Seventh Street Books, July 2014). She grew up in central Indiana, but now lives in Chicago with her husband and very spoiled dog.

20 thoughts on “First Love and All that Stuff

  1. I had a Pooh and he had a friend named Panda. No idea where they are now. Pooh got so worn out at one point (legs falling off), that my mother patched him (she made the patches look like pants).

    I did write a scene once where one of my characters (a tough-as-nails twelve-year-old girl) is presented with her childhood animal friend, Mr. Bunny, and has to figure out how to react without bursting into tears (which is not, in her mind, an acceptable reaction to anything).

    • Anthony, my mom had to re-stuff my Pooh with new fluff when I was still a kid. And one time my little sister, who thought my Pooh bear was hers, too, got into a tug-of-war over it with me, and a Pooh ear came off. Pretty sure my mom sewed it on backwards, as it doesn’t quite look right. But that’s OK.

      I could probably still burst in tears over my Pooh bear. My grandma used to sew clothes for it and now my grandma is gone. Ugh. Why did I write about this? Vein, open.

      • That’s one reason we remember those things – – because they’re moments a lot of readers will relate to.

        I have a scene (I haven’t written it yet, but I have it in mind if I ever need it) where the adopted mother of that girl, who doesn’t have a maternal or domestic bone in her body, sets out to repair Mr. Bunny, assembling an elaborate collection of supplies (various needles, various threads, various types of stuffing materials, jeweler’s loupe, etc.), showing both her devotion to the girl and her complete unfamiliarity with sewing. 🙂

  2. I had a mischievous doll named Audrey who was often to blame for whatever I did.
    Reading Harriet the Spy to Viv now, and it made me think of you as a kid – figuring people out and making up stories.

    • A mischievous doll named Audrey? You were really asking for it when you named your kid that, then. I love Harriet. Read her Encyclopedia Brown, too! We’ll turn her into a mystery kid yet.

  3. He wasn’t an object, he was a friend – Mr. McGillicutty by name. We did everything together when I was very young, usually in the company of my cocker spaniel, Scamp. Mr. McGillicutty changed appearance from time to time, and my parents always had a hard time accepting the fact that he was real, but I knew he was.

    Since I was quite young and restricted in movement (parents are so demanding – stay in sight, don’t leave the yard, those things), Mr. McGillicutty did the traveling for us, and then he would come back and tell me everything he found on the other side of the hill, or down the stream, or through the woods.

    Unfortunately, one day – shortly before I started school – Mr. McGillicutty made the mistake of going hunting without a red jacket, and we never visited again.

    I thought maybe he’d come back when my children – or my grandchildren – were born, and I’ve looked for him from time to time, and have wondered if he ever missed me as much as the older me sometimes misses him, but I guess we’ll never know.

  4. You got married on top of the Empire State Building??????? WOW! That’s so incredibly romantic. Happy anniversary! And I had a lovey, too. A stuffed dog named Doogan. I still have him and my kids hug him from time to time. 🙂

    • A lovey! I love that term.

      Yes, I got married on the 80th floor, then we went up to the observation deck on the 86th and bought souvenirs! Dinner in Little Italy, lotsssssss of wine, and then ice skating at Rockefeller Center in my wedding duds. It was hard to skate, kinda drunk and wearing princess clothes.

  5. I love this post, Lori — sweet and funny too. I don’t have too many childhood mementos either–oh, except my horse statues. I was such a horse girl. I’ve got like 60 Breyer horse statues still stored in my mom’s garage. Supposedly they could be worth some money now, but I don’t keep them for that.

  6. My Cabbage Patch Doll names Bert. He survived a trip down the playground slide (that my sister let him go on by himself!!) and a swim in a mud puddle. After numerous trips in the washing machine he has lost the threading in both his feet and now they look like little stumps. He lives on the dresser in Virginia’s room now.

  7. Hehe, your first line is genius! Love the pun 😉

    And I got all ALL THE FEELS reading this because I had a white bunny named Furball growing up. I’d read to her every night (not aloud, because she could her me thinking to her) and I’d take her on all my trips. And she still sits on my bed to this day (sometimes I swear she can still hear me reading to her).

  8. It is particularly fitting that you gave my unborn child a Pooh bear at the baby shower in 2004. She still has it, by the way.

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