Pat Shingleton: "The Bear Facts..."
On Thursday afternoon I was scanning the Gulf Coast to identify a few showers and landed on a cluster in Central Florida. I also identified a wildfire in Pomona Park, Florida, approximately 30 miles northwest of Daytona Beach. We're rapidly moving into wildfire season in many sections of the United States, especially in California. Many of the fires, at this time of the year, are generated by lightning. In 1945, Albert Staehle drew a uniformed bear, in an appropriate hat, trousers and holding a shovel. The caricature's name was inspired by New York City fireman "Smokey Joe" Martin. Staehle's bear was entitled Smokey Bear with no "the" in the middle. In 1947, Smokey's trademark slogan, "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires," was added. To compliment the character, Washington disc jockey Jackson Weaver was selected as the voice of Smokey. In 1948, Forest Service artist, Rudy Wendelin, presented the renderings of the fire prevention bear to legislators and The Smokey the Bear Act was passed by Congress to prevent forest fires. This registration regulated the commercial use of the name and image and become the most popular symbol in the United States in 1952. Pat's columns are homedelivered at www.PatShingleton.com.