There was a Steiff shop in the arcade near the hotel where we stayed in Hamburg. It was full of bears of all different shapes and sizes, some clothed and some not. There were other stuffed animal toys too but it is the teddy bear with that we most associate with the Steiff name. We bought them for our own children but they were much too expensive for us to stock in our John Dobbie toyshop. We stocked a selection of very nice teddy bears but at affordable prices.
Margarete Steiff began the company in 1880 and was later joined by her brother Fritz and nephew Richard. She originally made elephant pincushions but later made a variety of animal toys. It was her nephew Richard who created the famous teddy bear. The ‘button in ear’ was devised as a distinctive brand feature to stop other toys being passed off as Steiff toys.
Excerpt from Woman in a White Coat Writing about of teddy bears reminds me of one of the saddest episodes in my memoir involving the death of a young child.
With only two days left before Christmas, the pathology department at St Jude’s Cancer Hospital had been quiet all day. The surgeons put off non-urgent operations until after Christmas, so that patients could spend the holiday at home. There had been very few specimens to process and most of the staff had gone home early to get in some last minute shopping. By four o’clock the department was deserted. I had already got one arm in the sleeve of my coat when the phone rang. I was tempted to ignore it but having four children I always worried in case it was about one of them. ‘Hello,’ I said ‘Pathology department. Dr Waterman speaking.’ ‘Steven here, Dr Waterman. I think you’re on for post mortems. Can you come down? I’m all ready for you.’ ‘Oh Steven, can’t it wait until the morning? I know tomorrow’s Saturday and Christmas Eve, but I don’t mind coming in specially. I need to get over to Hamleys and buy a present for my neighbour’s new baby before they close.’ Continue reading Fabulous Steiff Shop, Hamburg→
Very interesting museum though small compared with the British Museum. It was built partly on the model of our V&A in London. I particularly liked the artefacts from Asia and the room of pianos and harpsichords. The current exhibition of tattoos left me cold. Some were plain revolting. On show was a wide variety of the tools used in the process.
I’ve always loved railway stations and when we had a recent trip to Hamburg we visited this one each day for breakfast. We were staying at a posh hotel nearby where breakfast was 32€ each!!
The interior is more like an airport – the concourse crowded with well know multiples and lots of eateries.
Very different from the Liverpool Street station i knew when I lived in Petticoat Lane before WW2.
From my memoir Woman in a White coat
I remember my father as a quiet kindly man, rather overwhelmed by the five women in his life – my mother, my grandmother and us three sisters. If he minded not having a son, he never said so to me. In his wedding photo he had a mass of straight black hair, but I only remember him being bald, with a fringe of greying hair around the edges.
On Saturday afternoons, when my mother had a nap, and my sisters went off with their friends, he used to take me for a walk. Sometimes we’d go to Liverpool Street main line station. We’d stand on the bridge over the railway tracks and watch the steam trains coming in and out. I’d hold my breath in case they didn’t stop in time to avoid crashing into the big round buffers at the end of the tracks. Other times we’d walk through the City, the great financial houses now quiet and shuttered. We’d sit in Finsbury Square, a piece of stale bread in our pockets for the sparrows and watch them picking at the crumbs. If there were any road works around we’d go and stand near them. The smell of tar was meant to be good for your lungs.
I’d try to tell my father how unfair I thought my mother was, and how she preferred my sisters to me. He’d pat me awkwardly on the head.
Such a shame we no longer have C&A stores in the UK. Lots of good cheap clothes. As a schoolgirl in the 1940s, I bought all my dresses, blouses and skirts there – except for my school uniform of course.