Hotfoot Teddy …
Hotfoot Teddy was the name given to a small bear cub that was found burned and clinging to the top of a tree at a forest fire in Capitan Gap, NM in 1950. The bear cub was rescued by fire fighters and when his mother was not found, he began a new public life … his survival story had hit people’s hearts. He was put in a zoo, but with an important job to do … Hotfoot Teddy became the mascot and messenger for the Department of Natural Resources Fire Prevention Program. Hotfoot Teddy became Smokey the Bear. (the story of Hotfoot Teddy)
Smokey the Bear’s 65th birthday is this weekend, August 9th. (official Smokey Bear website) When I heard the announcement on a local radio station about the celebrations being planned in the area, it brought back so many childhood memories for me. It also sent me to the internet to see if Smokey is still around, doing his job.
In the 60’s and 70’s when I was growing up Smokey the Bear was every where. There were posters, coloring books, a kids club, radio and animated tv commercials, and even songs written about him sung by famous people. He made special appearances in comic strips, cartoons, and had public conversations with celebrities on tv about protecting our forests. We also learned about forest fires in school, memorized Smokey’s prevention ABCs, wore Smokey badges showing we were official junior forest rangers. There were toys, dolls and lunch boxes just to name a few. To put it simply, Smokey the Bear was a big deal.
Smokey the Bear is contained in so many of my family memories. As kids, we sang the Smokey the Bear song (listen) in the car on the way “up North” on the weekends. Our family pet during that time was a big, gentle German Shepherd that looked a lot like a little bear cub when we got him … we named him Smokey. The summer we headed to International Falls on vacation brings only one memory to my mind … the big 26ft Smokey the Bear statue in Smokey the Bear Park where we had our picture taken.
I never thought about it before, but maybe the story of Hotfoot Teddy aka: Smokey the Bear is the start of my love of bears.
Here are a few links to bring back memories and learn more about Smokey Bear (I guess he has dropped the “the”). View some of the old commercials .. a big talking bear in a uniform can be rather intimidating. He did his job well for many, many years.
- Smokey and Bambi Commercial from 1977
- 1969 Commercial
- A 5-minute public service message in 1957 (with the original Smokey song at the very end)
- This is the best site .. take Smokey’s Journey and see all the Smokey stuff by year.
- Smokey Bear posters
- More history on Smokey Bear
- The song … a newer version on YouTube …. lyrics
If you take the time to search the net, you will find a lot of sites on Smokey the Bear .. there are even MySpace and Facebooks sites … but, be aware … they are not official and most are trying to make a joke and ruin Smokey’s image … they are not very nice.