I almost missed the eighth anniversary of the start of ElvisBlog. 527 articles posted, a new one added every weekend (except for three when my wife had surgeries). Still plugging along.
The switch to WordPress last April has worked out pretty good. They have a way to upload lots of pictures in a short time. The set-up to leave Comments is much simpler, so comments to ElvisBlog have quadrupled.
However, the switch also left me without the Stats the old blog platform made available. I was completely hooked on reading the numbers for page views and unique visitors every morning. So, I got Google Analytics. Obviously they have a much tighter matrix, because they cut ElvisBlog’s numbers by two-thirds. Really bummed me out. The happy news is that you good folks (unique visitors) have doubled in the first nine months on WordPress.
That’s enough of the victory lap. So, to celebrate the birthday, lets go back to the early days. During the first four years of ElvisBlog, no pictures were published, just text. So, I went back to 2006 to see what stories would benefit the most from having images included.
The winner is: The Strange Story of Barney and Mabel
(You can tell this is a strange story by looking at the chaos in this room. Here’s the old blog article, now updated with photos.)
Elvis fans come in many forms, including an extremely rich English aristocrat who lives in a castle. His name is Sir Benjamin Slade, and he has a substantial Elvis collection. One of his more recent additions was a rare 1909 teddy bear from famous German manufacturer Steiff. A teddy bear with that pedigree has intrinsic collectible value, but Elvis owned this one for a while, which made it even more valuable. Sir Benjamin purchased the teddy bear, named Mabel, at auction in Memphis for $75,000. However, he didn’t keep it long. In a very generous move, he loaned Mabel to a nearby tourist attraction that was assembling an exhibition of rare teddy bears. Mabel joined the British Bear Collection from Barnwell Castle, the Wareham Bears from Dorset, and others. The total insured value of these combined loaner bears was $900,000.
The insurance company insisted on 24-hour-uniformed security with highly trained guard dogs. Security Guard Greg West was on duty when Mabel the bear showed up at the exhibition area. His canine partner of six years was a Doberman named Barney.
All the most valuable bears in the collection were kept inside glass cases. However, Mabel needed some prep work, so she was left on a large worktable. Greg West came strolling through with Barney the Doberman, who was not on a leash. Seeing Mabel laying there belly-up, West could not resist giving her a stroke and saying what a nice little bear she was. Barney saw this and freaked out.
In a jealous rage, he attacked Mabel and tore her head off. The ninety-seven-year-old, $75,000 Steiff teddy bear that Elvis once owned was decapitated – by the guard dog. Uh oh. Barney must have liked the taste of stuffing, because he went on to tear up several other bears worth another $25,000.
The insurance company can’t be too happy about having to pay this claim, and Sir Benjamin is really mad. Who can blame him?
The attraction where all this took place is Wookey Hole Caves near Somerset. How’s that for a name? Their website boasts that Wookey Hole has 300,000 visitors a year and is “the most stunning underground caverns in the British Isles.” In addition, the Wookey Hole attractions include: Dinosaur Valley (20 life-size dinosaurs), Victorian Arcade (large collection of Edwardian Arcade machines you can play), Pirates of the River Axe (pirate ship game area involving nerf cannonballs), Magical Mirror Maze (distorted mirrors plus a maze you try to navigate through), and Enchanted Fairy Garden, (a river trail where you encounter fairies, elves, and dragons). What Wookey Hole doesn’t have anymore is Barney the guard dog – and probably not Mabel the Elvis bear either, if Sir Benjamin has any sense.
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