Teddy Poulin

While living in Coventry, Vermont, the Raoul Poulin family had a black bear for a few years. This was about 1929. In Newport, some men had killed the mother bear and wanted to make some money selling this little cub for $5.00. Herve bought the bear as an attraction to bring in business to his small hot dog, cigarette and gas stand.

Ond day, a man went to feed the bear and was afraid – he kept pulling his hand back. The bear got mad and bit the man’s hand – 3 big teeth marks appeared. He didn’t see the sign that read: “Feed at your own risk”.

Teddy the Bear, 1929.

Teddy the Bear, 1929.

As customers would come and drink a coke, many left bottles with a little of the sweet soda at the bottom. The cub quickly learned to grab the bottle, hold it in his paws, and then tip it up to drink. Anne-Marie who helped at the hot dog stand got the idea to fill empty coke bottles with water, a little sugar and some caramel coloring. As a coke was 5 cents at the time, they put up another sign: “Feed the bear, 2 cents”. People were eager to buy a 2-cent bottle while they watched the cute fuzzy cub guzzle down the sweet drink.

The bear was kept in the sugarhouse, where he probably licked the stone platform clean; sort of an added bonus if you think of it.

The family had a still in the woods where they brewed beer and since Newport was a short 3 miles away, many customers in town knew that this was one of the many families that had homebrew for sale.

One day, Federal Agents arrived and demanded to search for a still. They had heard rumors of the family selling moonshine. Herve, the family spokesperson (Raoul spoke very broken English), told the Agents to search all they wanted. When they got to the sugarhouse, Herve warned them that the bear was in there and that he could not be responsible if the men went in.

The Agents told Herve to remove the bear. He informed them that the bear was almost out of control. He said that the bear got too big and wild for him to handle, but told them to try and get past the bear. They declined and never came back again.

Little did they know that the bear was chained up in the small sugarhouse and that the moonshine was hidden under the floorboards of the sugarhouse, protected by Teddy. What a great addition to their dairy farm.

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