The good Reverend Chauncey J. Hawkins, of Spencer, Massachusetts’ First Congregation Church was a prolific author, penning such classics as The Little Red Doe, Will the Home Survive?, and Ned Brewster’s Caribou Hunt. From the slim evidence available, he was married for he dedicated his work The Mind of Whittier to his wife. We suspect however that Mrs. Hawkins exercised little influence over her husband’s activities, most specifically when it came to the selection of playmates for their four year old son, Robert Boone Hawkins.
Rev. Hawkins brought home two friends from New Brunswick (heaven knows how he got them over the border) to his home at 34 Elm Street, Jamaica Place, Massachusetts. Named “Donner” and Blitzen” the two baby bears were said to be quite safe; according to the New York Times of Nov. 26, 1912, “Mr. Hawkins says that Blitzen and her mate, Donner, make ideal playmates and keepers for his little boy. They are not at all savage; and he has no scruples about leaving the baby alone with them for hours.”
Blitzen, according to other newspaper reports, learned to wheel little Robert Boone around in a carriage, much to his delight. Not so popular with young Robert were the exceedingly wet kisses bestowed by his 135 pound hairy nursemaid, but with proper training the slobbering embraces became few and far between.
Living with two bears would, as you can imagine, not be without mishap. According to the New York World’s reporter, “one afternoon last week their curiosity created havoc in the home of Mr. Hawkins. A step ladder was placed at the rear of the house and in an unlucky moment a nearby window left open. The cubs promptly climbed in and entered the kitchen and soon became coated in a mixture of flour and molasses. Then they continued into the parlor, and strains of wondrous discord were heard proceeding from the piano. When the cubs were discovered they were rolling on the parlor floor in an attempt to rid themselves of their sticky coating.” One hopes that Mrs. Hawkins insisted her husband clean up the mess left by his two wards.
With that, our story comes to a close. There are no reports of children being mauled by bears, and so we presume that Robert Boone Hawkins made it to adulthood; nor would we be surprise, for after all, Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf, and they turned out just fine. Well, except for the whole fratricide thing.
Andrea S. and Kim F., in addition to be loyal followers of Forgotten Stories, just so happen to enjoy those emails containing cute puppies, panda bears, and baby sloths. To them, in thanks for their friendship, this post is humbly dedicated.