Russia The Hungry Bear

Cold War Defrosting vintage illustrationof gemeral Clay  Russian Bear

Is The Cold war being Defrosted?
(L) Vintage illustration from Time Magazine 4/12/48 General Lucius Clay and the Berlin Airlift Crisis

Cold war concerns of  Russian aggression are coming out of the deep freeze.

Russia’s recent  actions in the Ukraine feel straight out of the old Soviet playbook evoking a time when an expansionist Russia was viewed as a “hungry bear” whose insatiable appetite needed to be controlled.

Convinced that the Communist “imperialists” in Moscow were busy spinning a web of control hell-bent on forcibly enslaving free people everywhere, it would be up to the US to contain the cunning Russian bear.

Bear Hug

Soviet Soldierand bear  WWII

Soviet Soldier WWII

The big chill almost made us forget that only a few years earlier  this big brutal Russian bear had been our warm and fuzzy teddy bear of a wartime ally

During  WWII,  no one could hold a candle to those brave Stalingrad sacrificing red white and blue Russians.

Led by twinkly eyed pipe smoking “Uncle Joe Stalin they were our comrades in fighting the Nazis.

Songwriters cheered and praised our Soviet comrades as we whistled “You Can’t Brush Off a Russian” and “Stalin Wasn’t Stall’in.” Selling the Soviets to us like a bottle of Pepsi, one ditty went:

“The soviet Union hits the spot

12 million soldiers that’s a lot

Timashen and Stalin too

Soviet Union is Red white and blue.”


Like so many war born marriages it turned out our grand alliance with the Soviets was more a marriage of convenience.

Uncle Joe our warm and fuzzy teddy bear quickly turned into a cold-blooded grizzly bear ready to gobble up crippled Europe turning its starving shivering population into godless Communists.

As Soviet tanks angrily roamed eastern European streets our war born good will faded as quickly  as Elizabeth Arden’s vanishing cream.

Choosing Sides

As if shifting gears between enemy and ally was as effortless as the automatic transmission in your Chevrolet the considerable fury and fear that had fueled our hatred of those bloodless Nazis had been seamlessly and swiftly rerouted to those Godless Russian commies.

As long as the aggression existed in the form of the Evil Empire and “their unrelenting drive to enslave humanity” the threat of an unwanted nuclear war would cast a long shadow.

 The Hungry Russian Bear

Vintage illustration bear and map of USSR

Everywhere you turned were maps depicting the Soviet Unions aggressive tendencies appearing ominously splotched in red, depicting the global pattern of the spread of the Red offensive.(R) Map of Soviet Union Life Magazine 6/3/46

The long  shadow reached suburbia too.

What the danger of Russia and Communism posed to my ordinary suburban childhood was very unclear to me.

To help me understand the dangers of this big brutal Russian bear,  my father dad would read me a bedtime story,  a cold war classic which I  begged to have read to me again and again.

While other children adored Goldilocks and her antics with the Three Bears, my favorite was a story called “The Hungry Russian Bear.”

“Once upon a time, there was a Big Red Bear who was very, very hungry.

 “He lumbered through the forest eating everything in sight. His eyes were like saucers. No matter how much he ate, he always wanted more. Tramping through his neighbors forests, he gobbled up his neighbor’s portion.

 Looking around, he licked his lips. Lo and behold he spied a quiet little mouse.

 The Hungry Bear pounced and ate the mouse and all his food. Still hungry, he looked longingly across the big ocean to the other side, where there lay other lands full of all sorts of tempting goodies and treats.

The Big Red Bear would not be happy until he ate everything in sight. The bear just grew and grew.

Communist Russia, Dad explained to me  was like the hungry bear in the story. It was a large and ravenous nation with an insatiable appetite.

Their portion of porridge was never going to be enough for them. Nothing not even Metrical could curb their appetite

To avoid ending up in the tummy of a Communist Bear, I, just like America  was to be in a constant state of preparedness.

© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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  1. Adagio

    How fitting it would be these days to change the character in this story to “The Hungry American Eagle”, because if we all did our homework instead of just watching the boob tube we might learn who the REAL villain is in the present world.


  2. Pingback: Travels to Russia | Envisioning The American Dream

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