The Popcorn Stand: I stole the bear

I attended a Celebration of Life Saturday in Alameda, Calif., for a good friend of mine, Gary Caffey, who obviously died way too soon.

I have written about this before in another publication, but to my knowledge Gary didn’t know my deep, dark secret (as I’m sure many of my other friends from USC didn’t know and will be shocked to find out about this). Then again, those of us who knew Gary would tell you he’s one of the most knowledgeable people we’ve ever known and he tended to know about things like this — whether he told you or not.

But if he didn’t know, and even though it’s too late, I have to come clean again.

I stole the bear.

The week of the 1987 USC-UCLA football game, a brand new bear was purchased just to be burned, so a couple of other USC students (they’re names won’t be revealed to protect the innocent, er, guilty or whatever) and myself stole the bear so it wouldn’t be burned and a used bear would be burned instead like what should have been done in the first place.

As the staff at the Daily Trojan came up with the headline blaming Bruin vandals for the theft, I can remember Gary saying something to the effect it could have been an inside job.

Maybe Gary knew. Maybe the sweat pouring down my face when he said that gave me away.

Rest in peace, Gary.

— Charles Whisnand


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