Blog: Month: December 2017

A Holiday Hiccup

We all know that iconic scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie, certain that his wish for a Red Ryder B.B. gun has gone unanswered, finds that final package hidden behind the desk which turns his dismay into utter delight. Now imagine yourself on Christmas morning as a child, hoping against hope for the baby doll you’d seen in a catalog. You find it under the tree. Gleeful, you pick up the doll and give it a hug, only to have it growl in your ear, “I’m Smokey the Bear.”

That’s probably not where you thought this story was headed, but that’s the shock Christmas day of 1955 had in story for little boys and girls. On Thursday, 22 December 1955, the Malden Evening News reported a creepy voice box mix-up in an Atlanta, Georgia toy factory that assembled talking dolls. Talk about a nightmare before Christmas! Read on for the full scoop.

“Doll Factory Error To Startle Some Girl Christmas Day

ATLANTA, (UP)—A toyshop mixup threatened today to ruin some little girl’s Christmas because a dainty doll that is supposed to say a goodnight prayer will instead growl a fire prevention rhyme in a bear-voice.

The mixup occurred in a toy factory commissioned to manufacture talking models of Smokey, the bear used on posters by the U.S. Forestry Service in its fire prevention campaign.

The same factory also makes a petite little doll equipped with a voicebox that says gently:

‘Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
God bless Mommy,
God bless Daddy,

The prayer and the voice are much different from the sounds created for Smokey, the forest service teddy bear.

It growls in a gruff voice:

‘I’m Smokey the Bear, I’m the Smokey the Bear.
‘Running and looking for smoke in the air.
‘I warn careless people and tell them “take care.”
‘Please prevent forest fires, says Smokey the Bear.’

The South Carolina Forestry Commission ordered 96 of the stuffed bears for use in its fire prevention campaign. The first of the 96 Smokey Bears to arrive in the commission office was immediately tested. It created pandemonium by uttering in a childish voice:

‘Now I lay me down…’

Regional employes [sic] speculated that the toyshop mixed the voice boxes earmarked for the Smokey Bear and the dolls.

One of the bearlike voice boxes was sure to end up in one of the dainty ‘praying’ dolls, they calculated.”


After some research, it seems that the two dolls mentioned in the story were manufactured by the now-defunct
Ideal Toys. The praying doll was probably Ideal’s Patti Prays doll.

Holiday Concert with the Malden High School Choral Arts Society

Join the Friends of the Malden Public Library on Sunday, December 3, at 2 pm for a free concert held in partnership with the Malden Historical Society and Victorian Society of Malden. The Malden High School Choral Arts Society will perform and we’ll provide complimentary refreshments. This event is open to the public. Come join your neighbors and kick-off the holiday season at the Library!

Book Discussion by Former Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll

Book Discussion by Former Education Commissioner

Monday, December 4, 5:00- 6:30 pm in the Maccario Room at the Malden Public Library

Come join former Commissioner David P. Driscoll for a discussion of his new memoir, Commitment and Common Sense: Leading Education Reform in Massachusetts on Monday at the Library.
Dave will be sharing wisdom from his remarkable career as a math teacher, superintendent and the 21st successor to Horace Mann as commissioner of education in Massachusetts.
The book delves into the key elements of the Education Reform Act, also known as the “Grand Bargain,” that brought billions of dollars into the system along with new expectations and accountability at every level. The changes, ushered in by Driscoll and his colleagues, catapulted Massachusetts to among the best in the world in student achievement.
The event, hosted by the Malden Public Library and Dave’s friends and former coworkers at the Department, is open to the public.