On November 10, 1969, the TV show which forever would change children’s television debuted on public broadcasting stations around the country, courtesy of the Children’s Television Workshop. I believe it is one of the best things that ever happened to television, and forty-five years later, it still is going strong.
We Baby Boomers were mostly grown by the time Sesame Street came on the scene, but our children benefited enormously from it. Truth be told, when people learn my daughter started reading at two years of age, I have to credit her favorite show, which in those days was pronounced Sessee Street, and the fun she had learning her letters with friends she watched everyday at 9:00 o’clock in the morning.
The day that rocked her little world was her second birthday. One of the gifts she received was a large easel. Her dad was putting it together, and as he worked, she sat on the floor staring at the cardboard box in which it came. I watched as she stared at the box, wondering what she found so fascinating about it. After several minutes, a brilliant light went on, her face lit up, and she started jumping up and down, yelling and pointing at the box: “Omie, Mommy, Omie!!”
For the uninitiated in the language of a two-year old, omie was her word for open. And there it was; in big blue letters printed across the box, the word OPEN. She had recognized the letters, worked it through, and in a flash, her brain translated symbols into a word. And that was just the beginning. From that day forward, she worked on every word she encountered until it was mastered, experiencing the boundless joy of reading before she ever walked through a schoolroom door.
And the gift that kept on giving? She continued watching Sesame Street with her younger brother, and then helped him learn to read. He too had the skill down before entering Kindergarten. Both kids loved that show, seized the information made available through it, and never hesitated to play and have fun in the process.
So, to you Joan Ganz Cooney, the first executive director; Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets; Bob, Maria, Gordon, Susan, Luis, Mr. Hooper, Kermit, Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Count von Count, and Big Bird; you all were there at the beginning, and I want to thank you for the years of joy, teaching, tears, and love you brought into our home every day. You made our world a happier, brighter place, and because you cared about us, we learned to read, count, sing, share, be kind to and accepting of others. That is a monumental impact on millions and millions of young lives; all who will never forget any of you.
I believe Phil Donahue said it best, “This is Sesame Street. A place where people, birds, monsters all live in perfect harmony.” I think we all might benefit from an occasional return visit to Sesame Street; it just might remind us how easy it actually is.
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street?
9 thoughts on “Forty-five Years And Counting, Where The Air Is Sweet”
Such a good post. Enjoyed it, and the story of your daughter is quite amazing.
Thank you! There are so many good things to celebrate; I appreciate your comment.
This is a wonderful tribute to an industry we owe so much. They did teach the 3 R’s and how to live in harmony. Thank you for including all the names, so many touched us and participated in this early childhood programming.
I lived in Mexico during the days of Howdy Doody and I never knew television until the Mickey Mouse Club when I was about 7. I wonder what words I would have learned, how very early television memories would have impacted my learning.
Thank you! I believe TV had a huge impact on those of us who were there at the beginning. None was as good as Sesame Street, thiugh. That program was a stroke of genius.
Absolutely! You’ve got that right.
I think my favourites are Bert and Ernie. And the Count. And the Cookie Monster. They just know how to make you feel good 😀
I adored Grover! Thank you for your comment.
Ah, Grover! 😀
Thanks for closing with the song I was trying to remember. Well done.
Thank you! All together now…