Today I had the most fun an adult can have with their clothes on! I got to ride in San Miguel’s infamous teddy bear car!
Back as a single parent raising my kids on an isolated Atlantic island accessible only by boat and with no cars, I use to decorate the golf cart we got around in for each season.
The kids loved getting driven around in a cart laden with Easter bunnies or Halloween witches. Naturally, when I saw the teddy bear laden car blaring music on the streets of San Miguel it was love at first sight. Here someone took my festive mode of transport and expanded it. Big time.
It took me a bit to meet the driver of this stuffed animal splendor but eventually I found a friend of a friend connection. When I first wrote Colin Harnett, the head teddy bear, he responded enthusiastically, grateful to “meet a fellow Englishman in a land littered with pesky Americans.”
Being from Chocolatetown, USA (Hershey) I was intrigued to learn what I had done to make him think I hailed from Liverpool. It was my use in a sentence of the word “lad”. I had to come clean with Colin and admit I was simply like most men experiencing the lifelong transition of becoming their fathers. Since mine was born in 1920 Harlem on
the kitchen table of a fifth floor walkup, I talk and write like someone of that era and local.
I invited Colin and his car to my home since my little neighborhood has underground utilities and he needn’t worry about a bear getting caught on any high voltage wires. I only later learned that on last year’s St. Joseph’s Day (March 19 th ) he drove up Homobono with his rooftop Easter egg bearing teddy bears pulling down all of St. Joe’s
green and yellow decorations that crisscrossed the street!
Upon entering my little neighborhood he drove my Christmas sweater wearing dog bonkers. Despite the car being decorated for Three King’s day and my dog having been named for one of the kings, there was no love lost between my Jasper and Colin’s bears.
Following pleasantries and discussions on where he acquires said stuffed toys (Tuesday Market vendors set them aside for him) my inner child squealed like high pitched girl when Colin agreed to drive me across town to the cemetery where I had an upcoming tour.
Pulling on to Calazada de La Luz I was introduced to Colin’s World, and it’s a mighty fine one. The lad knows every trash man, taxi driver, gas man, Bimbo truck driver and alike (basically anyone who spends their working life on the streets of town) and they love him! Lots of toots and hellos.
I asked if the cops ever stop him. They sure do! Constantly! Then he whipped out his photos of the lads and lasses in blue getting their photos taken in his car.
Then the blokes that work at the car washes came running out upon hearing his music to do the bent elbow bicep pull indicating it was time for Colin to play his train whistle noises to great glee. Gals also dropped their curlers in the beauty parlors to run out and blow Colin kisses. Rock stars should get so much love in a Rose Bowl parade.
But it wasn’t just adults that follow Colin and his bears. His core audience is children.
Here I learned Colin gives out lollipops to passing children. Suddenly my emotions were torn. On one hand I remembered every afterschool special I saw in the 1970’s reminding me to stay away from the strange men in vans offering me candy, particularly hard candy.
Plus Colin likes to play the nursery song “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” which I’ve always found creepy. On the other hand I carry lollipops (and dog cookies) in my bag daily for those times on the bus, or waiting in line, with a child (or dog) in front of me that smiles broadly on getting a sweet. I just never considered doing the same from a moving vehicle.
Well, Colin has the under a meter set well trained in town. Children run out to greet a sucker (me and the candy) and adore Colin for it. As we both agreed, no one goes to their grave bemoaning how they gave away too much candy during their lifetime.
I was gravely disappointed to be dropped off at the cemetery ending the best ride outside of Hershey Park I’ve ever enjoyed. It made me immediately start pondering if my future included a car laden down with Mexican Maria dolls as those molls like hanging around bad boys and have always given me good luck!
By Joseph Toone
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin