My husband, Doc, read my last post and told me, “I have a problem with something you said.” I quickly ran through the post in my mind and attempted to think (easier said than done after a long day of work) – had I written something offensive? Something scandalous? Something revealing and awful about my youth that changed his perspective of me? I don’t think so. So, did Doc have something against cliff jumping? The Forest Service? Employment for young adults paid for by American taxpayers?
I gave up. “What did you have a problem with?” My voice may have been a bit defensive and bordering on snarky at this point. “The problem was,” he responded, “That you said your boss was Smokey THE Bear…and you and I know that is not really his name!”
See, here’s the thing. Remember when I was on the game show, Quiz Kid’s Challenge? And remember how I worked in radio for 16-years? Those two things have something in common – Smokey Bear. And I DO mean Smokey Bear – not Smokey THE Bear.
One of the questions posed on Quiz Kid’s Challenge was “What is Smokey Bear’s middle name? One of the snot-nosed kid rang in and confidently said, “THE!” And the host smiled from ear to ear and practically wet himself with excitement as he told the kid that he was CORRECT – it was Smokey THE Bear. It was all I could do not to stand up and shout, “WAIT a minute! That is totally UNTRUE! I demand a re-do! Bring in the Federal Game Show Commission (if there isn’t one, there SHOULD be!)”
You may be thinking, “But it IS Smokey THE Bear!” Or, you may be thinking, “Who gives a shit if Smokey has a middle name or not?” OR you may be thinking, “This girl really needs to get a life – shouldn’t she be worried about world peace or global warming instead?”
The answers to those questions are: No, it is NOT; I give a shit – because I like to be right and get annoyed when people are stupid; and, Well, perhaps – but I’m not a saint, dammit!
How could I be so certain that Smokey Bear did not have a middle name? Because the Forest Service themselves told me several years earlier! I was a public service director at one of the radio stations I worked for – which meant I had to find PSAs (public service announcements) to run on the air – basically to make the station look good to the FCC when they were up for re-licensing. We would read some live – usually for local events – and then we would play some recorded PSAs that were sent to us by national non-profits…the American Red Cross, the Muscular Dystrophy Association….and the U.S. Forest Service!
One PSA that the Forest Service sent to us had boy and his dad talking. The dad mentions Smokey the Bear and the kid responds, “It’s not Smokey THE Bear, Dad! Would you say, “Santa THE Claus, or Easter THE Bunny? It’s just Smokey Bear!” Obviously, if the Forest Service said it, it MUST be true! I mean, wouldn’t they know for sure? So, you can see why I was incensed that the question writers on Quiz Kid’s Challenge had so horribly mucked up this question and answer – it was a QUIZ show – a poor man’s Jeopardy, if you will. It was supposed to be educating America – not feeding them misinformation!
And now, I’m disheartened to admit, I am part of the misinformation machine! I’m especially ashamed because Smokey Bear was discovered after a fire here in New Mexico – and the state is also the home of the Smokey Bear Historical Park, which I kind of drove past one day – so shouldn’t I know better? So in the interest of truth, justice, and the American way – I publicly admit my mistake, and provide you this link to Wikipedia, which will confirm the information about Smokey Bear and also give you scads of information about him and his history (probably more than you ever wanted to know).