Monday, November 16, 2009

Reverting back to childhood...

My parents have a picture of me when I'm really little, three or four, and my little twin bed is covered in a ruffly spread and weighed down by at least 34 stuffed animals. I'm on the bed too, lost in the crowd of bears and dogs and cats and other breed-indeterminate fuzzies. Clearly, stuffed toys were my childhood crack.

My favorite on was a faded, balding Care Bear. In an incident I remember with startling clarity, one day I thought Wishbear needed to feel the wind in his four strands of hair, so I held him out the car window while on a family trip to Grandma's house. Inexplicably I let go and lost him as my dad zoomed down Middletown Road. My squawking alerted my parents to Wishie's impending doom, and he was quickly retrieved with more than one exhortation to tell Mom and Dad what I was thinking doing that.

So I can completely related to five year-old Jessica Martin. She accidentally left her furry friend, Beary, on a park bench during a pit stop on her way to Grandma's house. Unfortunately it was not until an hour and a half later, Jessica realized her little companion was gone, according to the Pittsburg Morning Sun. She was heartbroken, so her parents decided to try contacting park services to see if Beary could be located. It was a long shot, but Ranger Dave Stark went on a search-and-rescue mission and "captured" Beary. Stark made the stuffed toy part of the park's "Bear Relocation" program and shipped him home to Jessica.

Teddy bears are pretty iconic childhood possessions. While toy icons are just generally accepted as such in daily life, I recently found out via The Boston Globe there is, in fact, a national toy hall of fame. Located in Rochester, N.Y., toys up for induction into the 11 year-old museum must be "widely recognized; foster learning, creativity or discovery through play; and endure in popularity over generations. The ball, along with the Big Wheel and Nintendo GameBoy, recently joined the pantheon of 41 classic toys. Personally, I can't believe it took this long to recognize the ball as an all-star, but maybe that's just me...

Another kind of ball is entertaining the young at heart. The Boston Globe did a feature on the Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Northbridge, Mass. The elderly residents have picked up a passion normally dominated by the nerd in the corner cubicle - fantasy football (sorry Joel). Due to H1N1 concerns, the seniors' usual visits with the children in a nearby day care had to be curtailed, so a young recreation director had to get creative in livening up Sunday afternoons. This is my kind of fantasy league - no keeping track of individual players scattered all over the NFL. Residents win whole teams through a lottery and then root for them all season long.

(Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe)

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