Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It is hard to imagine the brainstorming session at Fisher-Price that gave birth to Bacos and his compatriots, a line of infant “grabber” toys shaped like animal heads. Just the heads. Odd indeed. A lamb, a bear and a pig were available in 1980, and of all the adorable, cuddly bunnies, unicorns and teddies lining Tucker’s crib, it was the pink terry cloth pig’s head with ears of softest satin that became my son’s favorite. One may discern my husband Dave’s perverse humor in dubbing the toy “Bacos” after McCormack’s Bacon Bits.

Dave and I treasured Bacos almost as much as Tucker did, for the calm that he brought and for the forever-image of my little boy sucking his thumb while holding Bacos close to his body, index finger stroking those satiny pink ears. Car rides were peaceful and overnight visits to friends or relatives went without a hitch as long as Bacos was with us, bearing all the security of home.

The downside to this relationship was that his presence became a MUST. Roughly the size of my hand, Bacos was easy to overlook, and many hours of my late twenties were spent in search of the pig’s head. I think that sometimes Tucker hid him deliberately. What power for a three-year-old to so thoroughly control his parents, sending them on a wild goose chase, knowing full well that the goose, in this case, the pig, was in the copper pitcher next to the fireplace in the kitchen.

Bacos’ most memorable adventure followed a shopping excursion to purchase a couch for our new house in Clinton. After giving every sofa the comfy-butt test, we made our selection and headed back to our apartment in Greenwich, an hour and fifteen minutes away. Why we didn’t miss Bacos sooner escapes me, but we were home before the wailing began.

Resourceful young mother that I was (and greatly indebted to the Fisher-Price Company for mass production), we had two Back-Up Bacos. They staved off total panic, but there was no mistaking them for the real thing. Firm and portly, freshly pink, they had not been snuggled and loved, imbued with Tucker’s own taste and baby scent.

When the Most Beloved did not turn up despite an exhaustive hunt, a call to the furniture store reaped a casual, “Why yes, we did find the...uh...pig’s head. We just threw it in the dumpster.”


A week later, boy and pig were reunited. Oh happy day.

The years of blissful companionship ended when some mean kid at nursery school teased Tucker about being a baby. At the age of five, he decided to put away “baby things.” He stopped sucking his thumb (all at once, just like that) and tossed Bacos into a wastebasket, then turned and walked away. Wait Tuck! It’s your Bacos! Don’t leave him behind!

Of course Bacos did not remain in the trash. I’ve saved him as well as his back-ups. They are precious to me. Tucker went cold turkey that day. He never sucked his thumb or asked for Bacos again. There were some hard, tight days when he clearly could have used a thumb and a satiny ear, but he never gave in.

Every now and then while cleaning drawers, I come across that old love-squished pig and the memory flash of little Tucker is instantaneous - they had been one! The baby is gone, but I can hold Bacos close, my nose buried in those satin ears. I inhale deeply in hopes that he still holds the scent of my little boy, but too many years have passed. I replace him wistfully in the drawer. At least I know where to find him.


Anonymous said...

I loved this!!! You completely drew me in. I have my own drawer filled with my son's things that I cherish....

Great story Lea!!!

Anonymous said...

oh my goodness - I sooo.. remember Bacos!

Anonymous said...

Mine was my blanket. I sucked my two fingers and rubbed the satin edge against that soft spot between my nose and my top lip. The sound drove my sister (Stephanie, of course) nuts when we were going to sleep at night so my Mother had no choice but to hide the blanket to break the habit. I thought I lost my most prized possession and punished myself for weeks for my carelessness. My blanket and I were reunited on Christmas morning, 1994- I was in eighth grade. She had forgotten about it until she came across it one day shoved way in the back of her closet. Part of me has still not forgiven her, or Stephanie.

Anonymous said...

I loved that damn pig head...it was the only thing that would distract the new comer long enough to give me some time back with my Favorite aunt and uncle...since you had to have a kid other than me! I can picture Tucker so clearly thumb in mouth and a satin ear between the free thumb and finger! He needs to bring the bowl cut back!

Anonymous said...

OK - this one touched me - my little guy, PJ (age 2), has his own version of Bacos - we call him "Jellycat" and we spend many days and nights searching frantically for him and also have backups that just don't seem to totally do the job but I know I'll treasure the memory of PJ, sucking his thumb, clinging to "Jelly" FOREVER! I'm just sad to know, the smell won't last!!
Thanks Lea!
Keep writing!!! xo
Cathleen Tone

Casey said...

Everything about tucker stories make me cry. jeez.

Anonymous said...

Reading every word of this fills me with little Tuck. Bacs (pronounced with long A please)really was the lil' elusive one at times, wasn't he? Think he was sitting (wherever)just having a good piggy chuckle for himself as adults scrambled (no egg pun intended).
Loved this one! Thanks for the joyful memories.