The Adventures of Toby and Wilbur Bear
Chapter title – The Beginning Begins
Paul R. Wonning
There are no bears in Indiana, let’s get this clear from the beginning. At least that is what everyone says. But the next time you hear an odd rustling in the forest at night, or find strange tracks, remember this tale of how bears came to Indiana.
This story centers on the peaceful little village of Trestletown. Trestletown is in the southeastern corner of Indiana. Here the wild hills tower over Laughery Creek as it meanders through the hills of southern Indiana on its journey to the Ohio River.
Trestletown is on the banks of Laughery Creek, just where the rail line crosses the creek on a bridge high above the stream. The town features all the ordinary homes and businesses common to a small Midwestern town. It has a grocery store, gas stations, restaurants, taverns, and most important of all – a hobby shop.
The adventure begins when Ferguson, “Fergy” to his friends, and owner of the hobby shop, decided he needed a vacation. So he closed the shop, hurried home and began tossing all the necessary gear into the camper. Then he stood scratching his head, thinking that he forgot something. He looked around and then remembered the most important thing of all. He picked up his bewildered wife Laura and threw her in the camper, too.
Vroom! They were off to Tennessee for some hiking and camping, in the Great Smoky Mountains. They found a nice mountain campground and set up camp.
Since it was late when they arrived, Laura and Fergy were tired. They ate dinner, watched the fire awhile and got ready for bed. Fergy was too tired to take the scraps left from their meal to the garbage can. So he just wrapped them in a napkin, and left them on the table, beside the cooler, thinking he could clean up in the morning.
Toby and Wilbur are two small bears that frequent the forested mountains near the campground. They are smaller than normal bears, just cubs that never grew up. Some say it is because they ate the rare leprechaun berries when they were cubs. Mischievous and hungry, they stayed near the campground because the food was agreeable. They also found that there was always something interesting to see. They watched with interest as the tired couple went to bed. Northerners were always easy, they usually left something good to eat out, at least until they learned about bears.
As soon as the lights in the camper went out, the two small bears scampered out of the brush and began rummaging through the leftovers. Toby found a cooler, which he promptly overturned. It came open, and the two bears felt like lottery winners. They were having a good time making a big mess, when the noise they were making woke up the campers. Fergy came out with a flashlight, sighted the two marauders, and began yelling at them.
The bears grabbed what they could and made out for the forest. Laura and Fergy watched them scamper, a little wiser about bears, and with a big mess to clean up. It wouldn’t be as easy for the bears on their next visit.
Fergy liked to set up some of toys from his shop at the campsite. He always lined the picnic up with drinking birds, radiometers, Newton’s Swings and gyroscopes. It amused him and the children in the campground. He set up his usual menagerie of novelties and set the drinking birds in motion. The early morning light took care of the radiometers. He and his wife then took off for a mountain hike.
Toby and Wilbur were out foraging that morning. Toby’s stomach remembered the large cream pie he had seen at Fergy’s campsite. They returned, finding the campsite deserted, and no food in sight. But the stuff on the picnic table caught their eyes. What was all this? The two bears had seen nothing like it in their lives. They watched the incredible drinking bird bob up and down at a glass of water. The radiometers spun, and the Newton’s swing fascinated Toby. All those gadgets enthralled Toby. Wilbur had an unpleasant premonition that life was about to take an unpleasant turn.
Toby looked at all the stuff on the table. He watched the radiometers and drinking birds, and wondered at how they worked. He picked up a hand boiler. The liquid inside boiled at his touch, amusing him. The two bears were absorbed in all the interesting toys. They didn’t hear Fergy and his wife until they entered the campsite. Startled, the bears took off into the brush leaving two bewildered campers behind. Bears!
Over the next several days, the bears scored hits on some of the other nearby campsites. They continually checked out Fergy’s site as well, but the couple had learned their lesson and had everything put away. It was the cooler that Toby had eyes for though. Toby remembered that it held ham, chicken, some wonderful cookies, and some of Laura’s special home made cream pie! The pie especially made Toby and Wilbur’s stomachs growl whenever they thought of it!
On their last day, the couple was cleaning up the campsite, getting ready to leave. With everything put away, they decided to take one last stroll around the campground before leaving. It was such a beautiful place and they couldn’t get enough of it.
As they left, Laura forgot to close the camper door. The two hungry bears were watching from the forests edge, and they saw their opportunity. The bears entered the camper in search of the cooler. There it was.
But before the bears could knock the cooler down, they heard Fergy and Laura returning. A broken shoelace had cut the walk short, and now the return to Indiana was imminent. Fergy closed the camper door, jumped in the driver’s seat and started the camper. From their hiding place under the bed, the bears watched Laura change shoes and get in the passengers seat of the camper.
And they were off! Toby and Wilbur looked at each other in consternation. What were they to do now? They decided to hide until the camper stopped, and jump out at the first available opportunity.
Only the camper didn’t stop! Gassed up and ready to go, the trip from Tennessee to Indiana took about six hours to complete. It was the longest six hours in the two bear’s life. Pulling into their driveway, Fergy suggested waiting until morning to clean out the camper, as it was late. Laura agreed, taking only the cooler and other food along to the house.
“Leave the camper door open overnight to air out,” Laura said, “It smells like musty socks in there”.
Fergy agreed, and the left the door open to air it out.
The two bears left their hiding place, and looked out the door. It was night, but they could tell they were a long way from home. They left the camper and scampered off into the Indiana countryside.
There are no bears in Indiana? There are now, but is Indiana ready for Toby and Wilbur?
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