Tales of Henrietta

My earliest bearhood memory …

I think I was born in 1940 but I can’t remember exactly. I know I can count to ten but it has taken so many years to remember the numbers.

I know I was born around World War 2 and then something terrible happened – a bomb must have exploded, and I was lost and alone, sitting amidst a pile of rubble. I couldn’t see very well as the air was very thick and cloudy with dust flying everywhere.

Although my ears were ringing, I could slightly hear voices around me but I was very frightened and thought I would never be found. It was such a shock that I couldn’t even remember my owner’s name or where I lived! Then, as I tried to stand up – I realised I could feel some wood wool fall from the back of my head onto my shoulders, my foot pads had been singed and now had holes in them but my arms were very shredded, wood wool was pouring out from every where!

I was a very frightened teddy bear! 

The next thing I remember, I must have been somewhere nice but where did I live? Who was my owner ? I was trying very hard to think. It was very difficult as my wood wool kept falling onto my shoulders but I began to remember that I was having fun at a birthday party as I was a special present for a little girl called Beatrice. Feeling very sad and lonely, I suddenly heard a loud engine with big wheels stop very close to me. Apparently, it was the Skip man, and I knew he would throw me in the skip and take me to the tip as I looked so bad and that would be it – I would meet the fate of many a torn teddy bear who had been cast away due to their injuries. 

It wasn’t my fault and I was a very young bear even though quite tall, considering I must have only been only 1 in bear years. I tried to smile sweetly at Mr Skip man but he gave me a curious stare and grabbed me by my legs and cast me onto the top of the skip where there was some old newspapers which he then loosely wrapped around me. 

I was  a very confused bear – if I was going to be taken to the tip then why did Mr Skip wrap me in some old newspaper? 

I was becoming a hopeful bear, even though there were lots of old things around me in the skip; Bits of wood, a toy yacht, a doll who had a head but it had come off and was rolling around the skip as we were going around corners. I bravely forced myself to roll over as fast as I could to stop her head from falling onto the road. Not easy being wrapped in newspaper but I just managed in the nick of time. Hooray!

In my new spot on the skip was a book lying near me, I could see a picture of a bear on the cover but I couldn’t read being only one year old. I liked the look of the bear and started to feel at home even though it wasn’t a real home.

All of a sudden we came to a dead stop, then I panicked! Had we reached the tip? I was shaking, and so scared I didn’t know what to expect. I could hear Mr Skip close his cab door and I knew I had tottery and see where he was going … I needed to roll over into the opposite side of the skip to see where we were. I decided I had to make my escape but what about Dolly? I had rescued her head but I couldn’t just leave her behind. If this was the dreaded tip we had to get off quickly. I rolled really hard to see where I was …. then oh! oh! .. I was falling …. falling off the side of the skip and then … bang I was on the pavement. Mr Skip was just about to walk up his garden path and thankfully heard the rumpus as I also brought down dolly who caught her head as she was falling and then that was it – Dolly had broken her fall by landing on me! Urgh! Mr Skip looked down at us – I knew this was it – we were definitely destined for the tip, where all broken bears, dolls and toys go when they are no longer looking in good repair. We only needed fixing but oh no, he was going to toss us straight back onto the skip … but then I shouted – “run Henrietta run, run, run!” forgetting that my pads we’re badly burnt!

Who was Henrietta? Was that my name? How did I think up such a name?

So much was buzzing around my head, even more wood wool had fallen out from the back of my head and it was all over my tummy, and my arms were now broken as the fall had now made my arms very flat with dolly landing on me. I was very upset but then, … I don’t know what happened next but I must have fainted! … it was all too much for a young bear!

I woke up to find I had escaped the bin but I didn’t know if Mr Skip man was going to help me or not? I was hoping he thought I was still a cute bear even though I was not looking my best.

It was then that I heard skipping, a little girl came skipping towards me screaming “Daddy! Daddy! – please can the poorly bear and dolly come into the house?”

“The bear has seen better days” said Mr Skip man “and dolly has her head in her hands”“but please”, said the little girl – “please don’t take them to the tip tomorrow. I know I can look after them”. The little girl seemed very friendly and she carried me into the house even though she was not that much taller than me, she was determined to take care of me. Mr Skip picked up Dolly and carefully took her into the house as well.  “I’m going to look after you and ask mummy to become your nurse and make you better but for tonight you can sleep in my bedroom” she said, “and I will wrap you in a soft blanket to keep you warm and you can sleep on some cushions until the morning comes. Dolly can sleep in the cradle”. I was hungry but very tired and just as I was about to close my eyes I could just see the door slightly opening to a kind faced lady who then put out the lights. I had been rescued and all I could do was rest my eyes and think of myself as being a very lucky wartime bear to be taken in by such a very kind little girl. To be continued….

Copyright: Ann Harwood, My Old Teddy Bear.