45 years ago, children’s television was changed forever. And you’ll probably be as deluged today with stories about the birth of Sesame Street as you were yesterday about the fall of the Berlin Wall. But the important thing to remember is that Sesame Street was, is and always will be one of the hippest programs for kids, no matter how much Elmo they cram into it. As one of that original generation that grew up with Big Bird, Grover and Oscar the Grouch, I thought I’d look back on some of my personal favorite moments.
The Ladybug Picnic. It’s silly, simple and childish. Did it teach me to count to 12? Doubtful. But decades later when a pal mentioned his 4-year-old daughter was watching The Ladybug Picnic, I instinctively remembered the tune and all the words.
The Yip Yip Aliens. These were among my favorite recurring characters when I was a kid. As an adult, I’m amazed at how the puppeteers convey emotions with what’s essentially and open furry tube with eyeballs.
Do it, Roosevelt! I don’t know exactly when they phased him out, but it was a crime they did so! Roosevelt Franklin was the apotheosis of cool.
Kermit sings the ABCs. I think this might be the quintessential Sesame Street clip. It’s got Kermit, the archetypal Muppet; it tries to teach the alphabet but yet remains rooted in humor; and it features a child so impossibly adorable without being saccharine. As homage, I think I will forevermore randomly insert Cookie Monster into any word I spell out loud.
Bert Doin’ the Pigeon. Bert always got a bad rap. Let’s face it: he was a bottle-cap-collecting, oatmeal-eating, fedora-wearing nerd. But I always felt sorry for him, personally. I mean, yeah, Ernie was funny but it takes talent to be the straight man. And when I saw this pigeon dance bit when I was eight, it nearly blew my mind. How the heck could I being seeing a Muppet’s legs, I asked myself. Years later, I’m still not 100% certain.