When the kids were little, one of the ways I could get them to make the very long hike down the Hauptstrasse in Heidelberg from Kornmarkt below where we lived to Bismarktplatz was to promise to stop and watch the Bubble Bear. Perched on the balcony railing between the ground and first floor, the Bubble Bear sat in his chair happily blowing bubbles. Werner’s – the store whose front entrance he guarded was a variety store of the fun kind with chairs, beach buckets, candles, art supplies, greeting cards, toys and other fascinating things (and of course, bubble stuff). A small craft section could be depended upon for that last minute “thing.”
One of the years in which the Army sentenced me to be somewhere else, Werner’s – a Heidelberg institution for decades – just went out of business, unable to compete with the high rents and increasing tourist traffic. As a result, a downtown landmarkt which had delighted several generations of children was seen no more. There were no soap bubble floating overhead as the bear dipped his wand into his brightly colored container before putting it up to his face and blowing another stream of bubbles.
Yesterday as I walked past the clothing store which replaced the former variety store, a soap bubble landed light as a butterfly on my nose. Looking up, there he was ensconced once again his balcony chair, the Bubble Bear appearing as if he had never left and had nothing more important in the world to do but blow bubbles.
The tourists didn’t get it, but I overheard a young mother explain to her toddler that this was a special bear who was back by magic; that she had seen him blowing bubbles when she was young.
With a smile I headed back toward home after using my camera to send a quick picture to a couple of kids to evoke a memory of their childhoods as well.