Online Monthly Teddy Bear Magazine

Doris Criss Nadon             Edmonton, Alberta Canada        March 2010

Introduction by Terry Michaud

We like to think our experience in making teddy bears goes all the way back to “the early days” of the mid 1970s. Here is a story from a delightful lady in Canada who has shared her father’s story of bear making that dates back to World War II. She sent it along when she submitted her entry for the Repurposed Bear contest currently running, and we felt it was such a moving story we asked her to share it with our readers.

 

 

Esther Criss visits her husband Philip at the VA hospital in 1943

My father, who had volunteered for the military at the outbreak of World War II was sent back from England with Tuberculosis and spent over 7 years in Colonel Mewburn Veteran’s Hospital in Canada. 

Dad was in a complete body cast from his armpits to the toes of his left foot. His right leg and foot were the only part free of that horrible plaster cage. He was not able to be up in a chair or on his feet, confined to bed 24 hours a day, week after week, month after month, and yes .. year after year.

This was before air conditioning, so you can imagine how hot and

uncomfortable it must have been for him. Patience, endurance and a ready smile were always close at hand for Dad, and he was grateful that families could visit for short periods each day. 

Boredom was the enemy, and it was important that these veterans had something to do as occupational therapy and to occupy their hands and minds.

Patients played cards with beds pushed close together, and Dad was the hospital cribbage champ for years. Dad also got involved with leather work and made many beautiful purses, belts and wallets, but this was not his favorite occupation. 

He discovered bear making, and it quickly won him over. The sewing was all done by hand, and any and all types of fur and fabrics were used, including corduroy, velvet, upholstery material and whatever Mom could find that Dad could turn into teddy bears. The bears were stuffed with whatever was available, from nylon stockings (pantyhose were not invented yet), foam chips or polyester stuffing. 


Two of the bears made by Philip Criss, constructed by hand under extraordinary circumstances. 

Dad’s family, nieces, nephews, friends and anyone who requested a bear was willingly and lovingly endowed with one. 

Even though they all originated from the same pattern, no two bears ever turned out the same. Over the years of Dad’s hospital confinement, then years of recuperation, and finally just something to keep his hands busy, he constructed many hundreds of these very huggable and cherished critters. 

After Dad passed away in 1980, the bear pattern was mislaid or disappeared, lost for all time as far as I was concerned. I tried to find a replacement pattern, but nothing would do the trick. I must admit I was not willing to use a different pattern, as it just did not seem right. 

In 2003 my Mother’s last sister passed away, and lo and behold, amongst her belongings was Dad’s bear pattern. It had taken 23 years to show up, and I was so very grateful for its appearance. The pattern had been traced on to and cut out of brown grocery bag paper and directions were hand written by my mother, who passed away in 1972. Copies were made and distributed to family members. 

I have since made bears for all my grand children who did not have the privilege of owning a Great Grandpa bear. I can visualize Dad looking down and grinning at my efforts to supply bears to all the little ones and some not so little!

Doris Criss Nadon

   

 

A note from Terry: 
The story does not end here, as the author, Doris Criss Nadon, went on to construct a total of 19 bears for family members of all ages as a special Christmas gift. 

She has entered our Repurposed Bear Contest and we will share her part of this story when we complete the contest and publish hers and other stories in a coming issue.

Meantime, we hope you enjoyed this wonderful story as much as we did. 

If you'd like to contact Doris her eMail is: ssirc@shaw.ca

 


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