Newsletter – December 2016

January 4th, 2017 by JCope

Has there been a Teddy Bear in your life? Maybe there still is. I was reminded recently by a long time resident of Hagley that in 1944 an American Field Hospital was briefly based at ‘Oldfield Hollies’ before moving to France shortly after D-Day. ‘Oldfield Hollies’ was a large house off Middlefield Lane which now no longer exists. A few of the American staff were billeted with Hagley families. Two such were billeted with this resident’s family. Wartime hardships meant that there were few new toys around and certainly no Teddy Bear for this young girl. After the war one of guests sent a parcel to the family which contained a Teddy Bear as a ‘thank you’ for the kindness shown during his stay.

53rd American Field Hospital

Site of 53rd American Field Hospital at Oldfield Hollies, off Middlefield Lane

The ‘Teddy Bear’ is an American invention, named after President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, but as our speaker this month Dr Gillian White told us, it was not the first toy bear. The first toy bear with jointed arms and legs was made in 1902 by the Steiff company in Germany. It had a now familiar trade mark. So, have a look in your loft for a bear with a ‘button in the ear’. It may be valuable. In 1994 one fetched £110,000 at auction.

In the interest of fairness I should tell you that ‘other bears are available’ and were mentioned. With nostalgia you may remember: Winnie-the-Pooh, Rupert, Sooty, Biffo (Beano), Paddington, Yogi and Aloysius (Brideshead Revisited). We always have a soft spot for a bear.

Our next meeting at St Saviour’s Church Hall is on Tuesday 7th February 2017. There will be a presentation entitled ‘A Journey Through Time – The Parish Church of St Thomas, Stourbridge’. St Thomas is an attractive Grade I listed Georgian Church built in about 1736 and situated in the town centre. It is affectionately known locally as “St Thomas’s opposite Waitrose”.

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