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Smarter Than the Average Bear

January 20, 2014

I was driving down the road on my way back from visiting my website builder when I spotted a rummage sale in an abandoned lot on the far side of town. I had nothing better to do so I stopped to see if anyone was selling a Renoir or Van Dyck for a few bucks. Unfortunately, no treasure was being offered for sale, unless you counted an old George Foreman grill that wouldn’t close properly. But I was mistaken. I saw an undiscovered treasure; partially blocked by a water damaged Cootie game was my cherished childhood toy, a plastic Yogi Bear bank. Yogi had been a favorite childhood companion even though kids in the neighborhood called me Boo Boo, after Yogi’s stalwart little companion.


It’s hard to explain the hold Yogi held over me when I was a kid. The thought of whiling away the hours while living on purloined picnic baskets seemed like the perfect formula for a life well spent, and I confess it still holds much appeal.


I snatched the Yogi bank and studied it carefully; it looked much like the one I received as a gift on my seventh birthday. Yogi looked dapper in his tie and Art Carney hat. I unscrewed the head which, like the one on my old Yogi bank, came off too easily to keep chubby fingers away from the coins nesting inside.


It didn’t matter that Yogi’s plastic lips didn’t move; I heard him say, “Buy me. Buy me!”


I checked the price tag. Three bucks to retrieve an old friend—a bargain. As I turned the bank over in my hands, examining it for bruises and booboos, I wondered what had happened to my Yogi bank, and lunchbox with matching thermos. I’d cherished them a long time ago but they’d vanished into the ether, along with my childhood.


“Buy me. Buy me,” whispered the plastic talisman of my youth.


I resurrected an embarrassing moment that has stuck with me for over fifty years. In the second or third grade our teacher asked if anyone could name a national park. My hand rocketed into the air, but then as now I was the class chatterbox, the know-it-all Hermione Granger of our little Hogwart’s class, and the teacher wanted to give someone else an opportunity to speak.


But no other hand was raised. Under my breath I begged, “Please pick me. I know the answer. Pleeeezzee!”


Our teacher relented. “Okay Stephen, give us the name of a national park.”


I stood up from my desk and proclaimed in a confident voice, “JELLYSTONE!”


My teacher looked over her glasses at me and said, “Sit down, Boo Boo.”


I placed the Yogi bank back where I’d found it. I was an adult now and didn’t buy toys. But I couldn’t get that grinning plastic bank out of my mind, not for the remainder of that day or the one that followed. A week later, with three bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I drove back and was pleased to see that the rummage sale was still there. I searched for an hour but couldn’t find my Yogi Bear bank. Some other Boo Boo had snatched him up.


Saint Paul writes in his First Epistle to the Corinthians:


     When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.


To this I say B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T! I’m sixty-one years old and I want my Yogi Bear bank!


JELLYSTONE!!! I love it~
By: Shelly on January 20, 2014
Jellystone would rock...just don't take a Pic-a-Nic basket!
By: David Walston on January 20, 2014
Now you'll probably have to buy it on EBay where I'm sure it's going for a lot more. I've never entirely put away my childish things.
By: PT Dilloway on January 20, 2014
dangnabbit! coulda woulda shoulda!
By: TexWisGirl on January 20, 2014
You missed your big chance, Boo Boo!!
By: fishducky on January 20, 2014
Oh Boo Boo, so sorry you snoozed and lost. But now you have a new quest in the junkin' arena. Onwards to Jellystone's finest.
By: Oma Linda on January 20, 2014
Oh no.. I would have bought him also. And I knew exactly what your national park answer would have been because I sincerely believed that was the name of a true park as a child, also. I was corrected by my mother who said "I think you mean Yellowstone, don't you?" and I thought she must have been mistaken. I guess we both thought that we were smarter than the average bear. ;)
By: Hilary on January 20, 2014
I'm astounded that you talked yourself out of buying it by using shame. I guess the reason for my astonishment is that I would never do that. I have talked myself out of buying something by saying that I had no place to put it, or by asking myself if I really wanted to dust it for the rest of my life, but I've learned from having to drive hours back to get something, that if the message is strong enough, it's better to go ahead and buy it. After all, I can easily get rid of it later if I regret doing so, especially when, as in your case, it cost so little anyway.
By: Snowbrush on January 20, 2014
I'd say the same thing to Saint Paul! Sorry you missed your chance, but now you know for certain what you'll do the next time you have the opportunity to be a child again.
By: Mitchell is Moving on January 20, 2014
Look on ebay? Google Yogi Bear Bank? I still yearn for the many toys my mother sold at garage sales. The dolls were especially precious to me. It didn't matter that I didn't play with them anymore. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 20, 2014
I'm ashamed to say I don't know Yogi Bear or Boo Boo but I'm sorry you missed out on him. Check out ebay!
By: LL Cool Joe on January 20, 2014
Just three dollars to get a little piece of your childhood back and put a smile on your face. If something really makes you happy, treat yourself! Adulthood needs all the pieces of childish bliss it can find. Great post, as always! :)
By: Lexa Cain on January 20, 2014
I think it is a gift to be able to retain a bit of our child-like minds. I suppose many of us give relive our child like dreams through our children or those of others.
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 20, 2014
AUGH!! How could you let Yogi get away from you?!?! Yogi would have gone home with me!! I'm not skeered to buy toys at my age... :oD Jellystone... HAR!!! ~shoes~
By: redshoes51 on January 20, 2014
Oh no. I can't believe you let a part of your childhood that made you happy, slip away. I'm sure if you check eBay, you will find one. Probably the guy who bought that one now has it for sale for ten times that amount. Jellystone gave me a chuckle.
By: Akansas Patti on January 20, 2014
We do leave most of our childish ways behind us, but that's no reason not to cherish the memories, and hold on to a few precious mementos. Hope you find one soon!
By: mimi on January 20, 2014
Ha! You should come to our house - you'd wonder if any adults lived here :)
By: The Bug on January 20, 2014
With adults, they are no longer "toys." They are called "mementos."
By: Pixel Peeper on January 20, 2014
You should have followed your heart and bought him when you could. Coulda...woulda...shoulda. Ha....listen to me. ;)
By: Scott Cody Park on January 20, 2014
It's funny how certain things held our attention. I have never thought about looking through sales to see some of the stuff from my childhood. On the other hand probably not much stuff would e left around.
By: red on January 20, 2014
Considering the era you were living in when you answered with "Jellystone" I think it was a logical answer. There are a lot of things out of the late fifties and early sixties that I find nostalgic. I just don't happen to go to sales much but if I ever see Dick and Jane books, or early original children's books from that era, I buy them. My grandkids get them read to them but it's more about me than it is about them.
By: Cheryl P. on January 20, 2014
The first rule of rummage sales: Don't plan to come back to buy an item at the rummage sale. It won't be there. Now you have reminded me of the time in third grade, when my teacher was trying to elicit a certain president's name from the class, and I sat there with my recently-broken, non-roller-skater's arm in a cast and sling, reluctant to raise my hand, and my teacher called on me anyway. I thought I had the answer. "Millard...Millard..." My teacher egged me on: "Yes. Go ahead. Millard...?" So I blurted out: "Millard HIGH LIFE!" Good thing my mom wasn't there. She would have kept me away from my grandpa for a month.
By: Val on January 20, 2014
Always go with your gut. If you ever see Yogi again, grab it. Even if it's double the price. I loved Yogi and Boo Boo. To this day if I see Yogi, I have to stop and watch it. "I don't want to grow up....."
By: Bouncin Barb on January 20, 2014
You realize don't you that we all will be searching for the perfect Yogi Bear to send to you! Cheers!
By: Kathe W. on January 20, 2014
Glad to see your inner child is alive and well. It is a great thing to let them out at times even if it is just to see the stunned look on everyones faces!
By: John on January 21, 2014
Here speaks a fellow Yogi bear fan. Ah, wonderful memories.
By: Bryan Jones on January 21, 2014
You wouldn't have passed it up when you had the opportunity If you were smarter than the average bear.
By: Joe on January 21, 2014
$3 was a good deal. Find them on Ebay
By: Cranky on January 21, 2014
Drats. It's fun to go with those impulses. I just bought myself an adorable nostalgic lunchbox - with old time Valentines all over it. I'm guessing you're not the only kid who wanted to visit Jellystone National Park. xoRobyn
By: Robyn Engel on January 21, 2014
PS I meant (of course) that you weren't the only kid. Then again, being a big kid is a good thing. I hope you bought it through Cranky's link.
By: Robyn Engel on January 21, 2014
I know how you feel, I had a stuffed monkey that is now gone and I wish I had it. My brother still has the teddy bear he played with as a boy. His kids played with it. Hope you find another bank to buy.
By: Madeleine McLaughlin on January 21, 2014

By: F on January 21, 2014
Some other scribe once said something about "a pleasure delayed is a pleasure denied".
By: Franklin Bruce Taylor on January 21, 2014
The Apostle Paul and Yogi! The closest experience I had from childhood was neighbors whose oldest kid blasted Beach Boys music from their stereo for the neighborhood to hear. He was at least 15 years older than any of us. In 2012, the playing field was leveled when I attended the Beach Boys' 50th Reunion concert ! Sort of "poetic justice"! :)
By: Michael Manning on January 23, 2014

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