A woman and her toys Collector: Julia Jung was 43 when her husband gave her the first teddy bear. Twenty years later, she has more than 250 bears and enjoys sharing her collection with children.

November 16, 1995|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Julia Jung got her first teddy bear as a Christmas gift from her husband when she was 43.

Now 63, the Severna Park woman has a collection of more than 250 stuffed bears, which she shared with about 30 children yesterday during a story-reading hour at the Severna Park branch of the county library.

"I love to show my bears," said Mrs. Jung, a former Oak Hill Elementary School teacher who retired three years ago. "It's something I know all children would enjoy."

About 30 children sat on the floor and listened as she read two stories about bears. Then she broke out 27 stuffed bears for a lengthy show-and-tell session.

Mrs. Jung introduced Paddington, the stuffed animal her husband Don bought for her in 1975. She also pulled out Corduroy, a brown bear with green corduroy overalls.

But the most popular of the stuffed bears was Elvira Rose, a mammoth of a stuffed animal measuring about 3 1/2 feet high and dressed like a pilgrim. Elvira Rose drew "oohs" and "aahs" from the children.

"She's so cute!" squealed Amanda Byrd, 3, of Annapolis.

Amanda, an outgoing child who has five bears of her own, said she likes the stuffed animals "because they trample through the forest, and they eat peanuts."

Amanda said peanuts are her favorite snack.

Bretton Bathras, 7, a second-grader at Severna Park Elementary School, has 19 bears and counting.

"They're furry and they're cuddly," Bretton said.

Steven Van Vranken, a 5-year-old from Pasadena, said his older sister's Teddy Ruxpin got him hooked on teddy bears.

"You can put a tape in the bear and wind it up and it talks to you," Steven said. "It's neat."

And 5-year-old Jimmy Wilson of Severna Park said he likes bears "because I don't have one."

Mrs. Jung said she started her collection 20 years ago for the children in her kindergarten class at Oak Hill.

She wanted to make January "Bear Month" and was determined to bring in a new bear for every day of the month, so she started buying bears by the dozen.

She said she bought most of her stuffed animals at the Timonium Bear Show, held every April and September, and from mail order catalogs and private bear-makers who lived as far away as Oregon.

L Mrs. Jung said she is picky about the type of bear she buys.

"I don't buy bears that are sad or grumpy," she said. "My bears have to be happy to be here. [They have] to say, 'I want to come home with you.' "

Many of the adults at the session said they enjoyed watching Mrs. Jung mesmerize the children.

"She's so enthusiastic," said Amanda's grandmother, Andrina Byrd, 58. "And [the children] are enthusiastic. She draws them in."

Mrs. Jung said she will continue entertaining children with her collection but that she might have to stop adding to it.

"I'm running out of space," she said.

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