1930s Bear, "Palooka"

by Sarah Marschner
(Georgia, USA)

Palooka bear

Palooka bear

I have a bear that was my father's - and he has a great history! My father was born in 1930, and in 1934 (give or take) he and his mother prepared to go south to live in Florida for the winter, since his health had not been optimal. He was excited to take his large, new bear, but my grandfather told him his bear was too large to take in the car all the way to Florida. My father cried and cried, so my grandmother went to Macy's in Detroit and purchased a small bear to take his place.

This bear, who my father named "Palooka" is about 8 inches tall and is not jointed. He has black shoe-button eyes, and has been extremely well-loved. Palooka accompanied my father to the rocky shores of their home on Siesta Key. One day, my father accidentally left Palooka on the rocks, and when the tide came in, Palooka went out. Dad was devistated, and cried for 3 days straight about the loss of his small bear. Then, miraculously, on the third day, he spotted Palooka washed up on the rocks!! My Oma (grandmother) rinsed the salt water out of Palooka, squeezed him out, and hung him by the ears from clothes pins on the line to dry. Dad is 86 now, and we still have Palooka. He has accompanied my 6 sisters and I to each of the colleges we have been to - from the Royal College of Art in London, and music school in Germany, to the University of Florida, Florida State University, and University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, plus several others. The grandchildren are now taking turns introducing Palooka to their colleges.

Dad doesn't remember a lot of the stuff he used to. Palooka, however, remains a great memory of his childhood, and how he spent his winters on the rocks of Siesta Key, Florida, and the rest of the time in Detroit - a beautiful city at the time!

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