Milepost #934

August 1, 2019

By Ken Brafman, Image from the Piper Flyer Association archives

HAPPY 75TH BIRTHDAY SMOKEY BEAR!: On Sunday, August 11 from noon to 3 p.m. a V.I.B. (Very Important Bear) will be returning to our Mountain History Museum for his annual visit. As always Smokey will be posing for photos and delighting kids of all ages; however, this year is even more special as we will be celebrating Smokey Bear’s 75th Birthday with cake and ice cream, refreshments, special handouts as well as commemorative souvenirs to the first 50 kids. For added excitement historic Fire Engine 13 will be on display and with it some special guest firefighters. This week’s image shows the real Smokey as a cub. He is exploring a Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser which Fish and Game kept on hand for firefighting operations. This plane was used to fight a forest fire that had destroyed 17,000 acres of the Lincoln National Forest. During mop-up operations firefighters spotted an abandoned and badly injured bear cub clinging to a tree. Nicknamed ‘Hot Foot Teddy’ the cub was brought back to camp where Game Warden Raymond Bell took charge of his care. Bell soon realized that the cub would not survive without urgent veterinary care. Dr. Edwin F. Smith was expert in treating wild animals but lived 180 miles away. So the newly named ‘Smokey’ was placed in a box and took off on his first plane ride – on the Piper PA-12. The story of Smokey caught the attention of the entire nation. News about this real bear named Smokey spread far and wide, and when he recovered he was given a spacious new home at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Did you know that besides Smokey only the president has his own zip code? You can address mail simply ‘Smokey Bear 20252.’ Smokey Bear has played a huge role in spreading messages of wildfire prevention and forest conservation. And at our 75th Birthday Celebration you’ll also learn that he’s good to cuddle.

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