Can U tell me how to get (back) to Sesame Street?

January 24, 2010 at 7:42 pm (Book Commentary) (, , , , , )

I am in a nostalgic mood. I am also slightly grouchy, like Oscar on a good day.

I have spent the day pursuing Sesame Street: A Celebration-40 Years of Life on the Street by Louise Gikow. It is a huge, coffee table book glorifying Sesame Street. It is a heavy book, both in physical weight and content. It is loaded with more than I wanted to know about Sesame Street yet still contained cute tidbits I didn’t know that I wanted to know.

You have to remember that I am old. Though I never watched the first episode when it first aired I was alive and slightly older than the target audience range of 4 & 5 year olds.

I first started watching regularly in the early seventies, with the kids I babysat and with my new younger half-sisters who would wow me with their ESP skills as they told me what would be on the show next. (Years later, one of them clued me into the fact that they got Sesame Street twice a day and I was usually there in the evening when the repeat episode was on. Yes, I was a naive teenager!)

This was the era of John John and Roosevelt Franklin. When Wanda the Witch lost her wig on a windy Wednesday and Prairie Dawn was the resident female Muppet. I learnt, today from the book, that Prairie Dawn was the daughter of hippies and I remember her fondly as one of my early feminist influences. She was unstoppable and would dare anything.

I also fondly remember Buffy St. Marie and her honest portrayal of aboriginal lifestyles. I already knew Lily Tomlin’s Edith Anne from Laugh-in and Linda Bove’s librarian was an early influence on my present career.

It surprised me that I could name 90% of the people and characters on the front and back of the book.  I even remembered the ubiquitous Lefty who was always going “psst,” to Ernie as he tried to sell him something as unique as the letter U.

The book brought back the sadness I felt at Mr. Hopper’s death. The memory of Gina’s & Mile’s slight, teasing romance as young teenagers. The amazement at watching Big Bird roller-skate at a time when I knew how hard it would be to do this as a puppeteer. The show was diverse and always strived for racial balance, gender balance, ethnic balance and  disability balance among its cast of people and Muppets.

The last time I was watching regularly was when Maria & Luis were married. The younger regular characters from that era, Gina, Miles and Gabi are all grown up now. In fact, Gina has gone on to become a veterinarian on Sesame Street and single mom, recently adopting from overseas. (I feel like I am catching up with old friends here.) Mr. Hopper’s has evolved into a convenience store rather than a soda shop. Everywhere, it seems soda shops are disappearing. 😦

I gave a speech this month, at Toastmasters, on the many jobs that Grover has had. I counted 49. Numbers are important when talking about Sesame Street. Currently, the show has 26 episodes per season so that every letter of the alphabet gets highlighted in its own episode.

The book comes with a DVD which includes the first episode. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the Ladybug’s Picnic. The lyrics are in the book. It seems that one of the things that the Ladybugs discuss at their picnic is the high cost of fire insurance for Ladybugs; which is, of course, an inside reference to this nursery rhyme.

I can’t stop smiling and reminiscing. I want to go back to Sesame Street. I think I’m half way to purchasing this anniversary collection to cheer me up when I feel slightly grouchy (like Oscar).

For additional fun and information there is a bibliography at the back of the book, Sesame Street online, Muppet wiki online, Tough Pigs or search Sesame Street over at YouTube – you may never leave.

Sesame Street: A Celebration-40 Years of Life on the Street

by Louise A. Gikow

New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2009

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7 Comments

  1. Nan said,

    My little girl (who is now 27!) called it ‘Sunny Day’ because of the song. Oh, what memories of both my kids sitting so very happily watching. It came on at the perfect time of day. SS 4-5 and Mister Rogers 5-5.30. Just right for a tired mum to cook supper quietly in the kitchen. :<)

  2. Susan Gallen said,

    Dear Lois, I too wish for the old days of Sesame Street and the really good music. I taught my kids their address and phone number to the tune of the Ladybug Picnic. I am really looking for the song “Windy Day”. I think it was sung by Bob McGrath and it was a short film with kids running in a park and doors banging and hats flying and it was beautiful. If anyone knows where to get it I would really appreciate an e-mail. I can find the lyrics but not the actual song, even checked discographies. Thanks Sue

    • jane ann said,

      I am also looking for Bob singing Windy Day for my granddaughter. It was so beautiful, if you have found it please let me know. It is hard to believe with all i can find on youtube it is not there.

  3. Eric Scroggs (@ericscroggs) said,

    I’ve been looking for this song/video, too, but I cannot find it ANYWHERE. It’s always been ingrained in my brain since I can remember. I haven’t seen it since I was about 8 or 9. I think I would probably cry if I heard it again.

    I thought everything was supposed to be on the Internet. Surely, there’s someone out there who has a video of it!

  4. Eric Scroggs (@ericscroggs) said,

    That last post was meant as a reply to Susan Gallen’s request for Bob McGrath’s “Windy Day” video.

  5. Eric Delena said,

    i hope this helps …stay happy everyone

    • solitaryspinster said,

      Thanks for finding it. That was nice of you.

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