One day it appears as Teddy dressed for golf with clubs and a tee flag. The next day it’s Tedina dressed in a gown and holding flowers. Another day it’s relaxing, reading the paper and enjoying a cup of coffee.
Since April Fool’s Day when the oversized stuffed animal debuted, it has graced the front porch or yard of its Oakland home in different dress and settings and is making passersby smile.
“Basically, I’m changing Teddy/Tedina’s outfits and scenes every day,” says creator Caddy Durkin Harper, who lives with her husband John on Tennyson Ave. in Schenley Farms. She has been sending a daily photo of the bear to her own personal email list since she started, then she and Teddy were featured in a segment on a local television station.
“Yes, I have time, a house full of props, and a vivid imagination — actually, a silly imagination,” says Harper. “And my husband, John, helps with the props. He says he’s the grip or lifter.”
The lighthearted project is providing a ray of light in this time of uncertainty. “Because it’s such a serious time (I’m talking plague!) and it must be very disconcerting for all, and maybe especially children,” she says. “There’s no grounding for how this plays out. No one we know has lived through it.
“So, I thought that I’d help people smile on their walks or drives as they see this huge Teddy bear going about life, sometimes looking very silly. No matter what, I think we can all tap into some silliness and curiosity. It’s a great tonic for the spirit.”
Neighbors and those walking — and now driving — by would agree.
A reader and friend, Lenore Blum, alerted NEXTpittsburgh to the story, calling Caddy one of the most inspirational people she knows. “She has a quirky creativeness that delights,” says Blum, “and an astute sense of politics that also delights! Caddy and my husband Manuel have the same birthday and we always celebrate together in some fun way. Last week it was a parade drive by her house (unfortunately it was raining hence the drive) organized by another of our dear friends, Mary Lou McLaughlin.”
Harper has had the teddy bear so long she no longer remembers where it came from. The couple has lived in the house for more than two decades and they own several movie theaters in town, including Waterworks and one in Cranberry and Indiana, PA.
“I have a lot of stuff I never decluttered and it’s all coming in handy right now,” she says.
Meanwhile, she gets as much joy out of it as anyone.
“If I hear laughter, it’s music to my ears, and I do. Like today I heard some. The bear is resting today under a quilt, sleeping in. Everyone deserves a day of rest,” she adds.
When asked why one neighbor referred to her as the Mayor of Schenley Farms, she laughs it off and chalks it up to longevity. They have lived in their house for 25 years, she notes. “I know everybody.”
As for her positive outlook on life: “I keep a quote on my desk: ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ So, if I’m wondering, will I be misinterpreted, I remember those words. As it turns out, they’re true.