Growing up on a farm outside of our little town, I didn’t have many friends my own age. The 3 miles between us and town seemed like a cross country trip whenever I asked my folks to drive me there. I rode my bike when I could, but my chores and the weather didn’t allow me to do it that often.

My solitude while growing up helped to foster my love of reading and writing. I also became fond of stuffed animals. (As I’m writing this, I realize this is a familiar story in the origin of many serial killers.) I was a fat, smart kid and was pretty heavily ridiculed as a child. (Again, another notch in the serial killer deal.)

As I’ve written in a previous blog, I ran away from home in 1966. I was 15 and had heard enough of the fat jokes to last a lifetime. I wound up in Los Angeles where I worked as a gofer for Twentieth Century Fox for almost 2 weeks until they found out I wasn’t 18. I worked at a carwash for the rest of the year I spent out there, doing interiors.

When I returned, I was lighter, but a year behind my former classmates. While I wasn’t uber-fat anymore (a year of cleaning car interiors in LA heat will do that), my 1-year absence made me a bit of a pariah with my old and new classmates. I took enough credits to graduate in 3 years, but the hopelessly backward state of New Jersey made me go the full 4 years.

While in school, I got a job as a writer/photographer for a couple of local newspapers. I had the only darkroom in town and often developed and printed film for the local police. I had a police radio and was able to be the first on the scene for breaking news. Even won a couple of local journalism awards, not too shabby for a 17-year-old.

During this time, I still didn’t have that many friends (neither did Ted Bundy). I found the Rowlf puppet at Wanamaker’s while I was shopping for clothes. I had always loved his bits on the Jimmy Dean Show. Even at age 17, I had to have him. I shelled out the $15.00 and took him home.

When my mother saw him, she said I was too old for such nonsense. Yes sir, she always understood me. My Uncle Ed didn’t give a crap, which is pretty much his stand on everything. (When I saw the character “Bobby” on King of the Hill, I understood his situation.) I put Rowlf on a shelf in my 3rd floor room where he could se everything. I did put a towel over him when I masturbated. I wanted him to be proud of me.

I consulted with Rowlf late at night while I was pounding the keys in my 3rd floor room. (Again, a nod at the serial community).

In the 1990’s, I still had Rowlf and, from time to time, I continued to consult with him. Eventually my best friend Mandy would supplant him. But sometimes I needed advice and counsel from both of them. I wrote the song, “No More Than a Teddy Bear” about the impact my stuffed animals, Rowlf and Mandy had on me through the years.

After I wrote the song, I considered doing a children’s CD. Some of the song titles I came up with were; “Don’t Kill Your Parents, They Didn’t Know Any Better,” “Karma Will Get the Kids Who Mistreated You in School,” “Yes, Those People Whispering Are Making Fun of You” and many others. I just didn’t have time to finish the project.

The photo of Rowlf was taken today. I’ve had him since 1967. He still doesn’t answer me unless I’ve had a couple of glasses of Pinot Noir. Then, he’s the smartest person in the room.

Here’s the Soundclick link for the song:

© 2021 Steve Bryant – No portion of this or any blog can be reproduced or copied and posted on any online site or read aloud on any audio or video media without the express permission of the author.

TV Shopping Host and Coach, Musician, Author, Teacher.

One Comment on “The “Stuffies,” The Muppets and Me

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