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Bear Hug—Barbara’s Dad Takes The Prize

Bear Hug — Barbara’s Dad Takes The Prize

Movie boyfriends, in films from the 1950s and 1960s, took their girlfriends to state fairs. They strolled the arcades and threw darts at balloons or tossed rings over pegs and won teddy bears for their girls. When I was twelve, the Nassau County State Fair was coming to town, and I wanted someone to win me a teddy bear. I did not have a boyfriend to plunk down his hard-earned dimes and pop balloons for me, but I had my dad, and I asked him to win me a teddy bear. He plowed through about two dollars’ worth of dimes before I walked off with my prize bear. He probably could have bought one for that amount of money. But the one he won me was better. 

It has been with me for sixty-four years, patched with mementoes from Girl Scout camp and a trip to Canada, sporting a bow tie to hide the stitches keeping his head on tight. When I was old enough to go to state fairs with my friends, boyfriends and eventually my husband, I always played the arcade games and I usually won stuffed bears or bananas or chickens or whatever. I still do. On a trip to Brighton, England, I won the biggest stuffed cow on the pier and had to buy a suitcase to get it home. No matter. It made me happy, and when I looked at it sitting next to the battered bear won at the Nassau County State Fair on our guest room bed, I always smile and think of my dad.