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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Happy Birthday to You

Today is Sesame Street's 40th Birthday - to tell the truth I thought it was older - up until 7th grade I used to love watching it ... not so much for the learning but for the muppets.

I even remember watching the episode when Big Bird learns Mr. Hooper had passed away ...


That was a very sad episode for me as well .... it brought back many feelings that I hadn't realized were there... I've had to rewrite this several times so I don't wax poetic.

You see Mr. Hooper & Big Bird was one bit that my mother really enjoyed too (that and Ernie with the muppet selling things on the sly) .... it was when these scenes that as a kid I knew mom would look away from the ironing, peek up from her crossword puzzle, or stop doing dishes long enough to laugh along with me as Big Bird called him Mr. Cooper, Mr. Pooper, Mr. Looper, and generally do something to drive poor Mr. Hooper up the wall.

And he was a version of my next-door neighbor that I could see everyday w/out bothering him -- the family who owned the store lived right next to us, and were very close family friends. In fact they were such a big part of my life, that I find it nearly impossible to write this without delving into childhood memories & impressions, but that's not what this is about.

Sesame Street -- I remember learning to say "I Love You" in spanish at age 10 (now its a part of the regular curriculm in schools starting in kindergarten) and saying it to my Uncle Alfredo .... without a doubt the favorite of all my uncles ....

Mr. Hooper who was my neighbor, only on tv ... and with a sit-down counter. Don didn't have that ... but the drug store up on University & Bedford did and so did the Woolworth's in Midway Shopping center (all my favorite spots wrapped into one convient place which I could see at twice a day until I started over at the jr/high school) ....

Ernie & Bert, wow, what can we say - who didn't have a best buddy who was like one or the other?

And Big Bird -- oh Big Bird! I remember when Snuffy was introduced and no one believed Big Bird -- I think every child could sympathize with him .... because every kid at some point tells a grown up something and the adult doesn't believe even though its true.

I haven't watched the program in a long time ... not since my kids were little. In fact a couple of us teachers at the daycare got together and insisted that we be able to show it to the 2 & 3 yr olds before naptime ... for the 'educational' value -- well that was the thought, for some of the teachers it was really just a way to keep the kids occupied while we cleaned after lunch & changed diapers ... then the older kids got it for the next show - it worked great, the kids settled down and it was much easier to get them to take their naps.

worked great until the local station changed the timing (or maybe it was the provider to them) then things just didn't work out -- too bad none of us every thought of recording the thing and bringing it to school (duh!)

But 40 yrs!

and now they are talking that Sesame street might have out lived its cycle ... that children are no longer interested and that kids are too mature for it - that it needs to regear itself not to the kindergartener but to the preschooler ....

how sad is that?

Sesame street is more than just an 'educational show' ... I think it also gives kids nice role models in a variety of ethnicities and shows what a neighborhood could be like ... if people really really try -- even if they don't get into everyday matters like money issues, school, gangs, drugs, and the like.

Hey -- lets let kids be kids for as long as possible ....

And give Sesame street 40 more years!!

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