This month in 1903, toy store owner and inventor Morris Michtom placed two stuffed bears in his shop window, advertising them as Teddy bears. Michtom had earlier petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt for permission to use his nickname, Teddy. The president agreed, and before long, other toy manufacturers began turning out copies of Michtom’s stuffed bears, which soon became a national childhood institution. Reports differ as to the exact details of the inspiration behind the Teddy bear, but it is thought that while hunting in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt came upon an old injured black bear that his guides had tied to a tree. While some reports claim Roosevelt shot the bear out of pity for his suffering, others insist he set the bear free. Political cartoonists later portrayed the bear as a cub, implying that under the tough, outdoorsy, and macho image of Roosevelt lay a much softer, more sensitive interior.
We all had stuffed teddy bears as kids, or in my case, a stuffed lion. I still have it. Why? Because it reminds me of the loneliness from which we all run. The teddy bear brings comfort and a sense of companionship, for which we were all created. Genesis says it is not good for man to be alone. Ecclesiastes said two are better than one and three are better than two. God allows you to travel difficult roads at times, but never are you to travel them alone. That is the lesson of the most rugged president our land has ever had. And that is the lesson of the teddy bear, who turns 113 years old this month.