Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 years of Life on the Street

Last night, I spent an hour flipping through this lovely coffee table book on Sesame Street. Every time there is a debate about some obscure memory of the Street, out comes this tome.

Sesame Street played such an important role in my childhood and that of my friends that I am never surprised to find whoever is at my house leafing through this lovely collection of photos, stories and facts. When my daughter became a fan, I was thrilled to get reacquainted with the show and its new characters.

Having a coffee table book is great, but giving to Sesame Street feels even better. Most of its funding comes from the public, people like us.

Many people don’t realize that Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit organization. For all of our programs, which include productions in more than 140 countries, we must cover the substantial cost of research and curriculum development, writing, design, production, and more.

Louise A. Gikow's Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 years of Life on the Street


      1. And that’s only the cost side of the equation. The value side of PBS childrens’ programming was expressed by Mr. Rogers in a Senate hearing the year Sesame Street began:

    1. Finally, this massive burden on the budget will be removed.  Next target, paper cups in the White House break room.

  1. I still actually remember the first time I saw Sesame Street, and I’m old enough to have seen the first season.

  2. I actually really disliked Sesame Street. The only times I would watch it was when I was forced to by a grumpy old babysitter. Whether I wound up hating it because I hated her forcing me to watch it, or whether I hated being forced to watch it because I already hated it, I will never know!

    1. I was the same way, but now observing my own kids I can tell you that it is most likely the forcing you to be babysat by it that did it. 

      If I’m in the middle of something and need my kid to do something for a few minutes other than what they want to do, it doesn’t matter if it’s the best activity in the whole world or a brand new super-gizmo wowee toy-inator (okay, bribes do often work, but you get my point) then they resent both the act of being restricted to that activity and the activity equally.

    1. …the original episodes are apparently unsuitable for toddlers anymore.

      I’ve got those DVDs and I admit that I can see where they’re coming from.

      For example: in the pilot episode a young, unsupervised girl gets taken on a tour of the street by an adult man she just met. Then he takes her back to his place for milk and cookies. In retrospect, not really a good example for young kids to follow.

      1. Or the unsupervised kids going over, through, and around various obstacles at a construction site.  (Much as my comrades and I did.) And from the same collection, in the opening credits, there’s a visibly-engorged horse although from another PoV that’s certainly educational.

        There’s another one from the Volume 2 collection, “What Would We Do Without Pockets,” in which a girl apparently shoplifts an apple from a street vendor.

      2. I get where you’re coming from — it goes against the advice anyone would give their kids, now and back in 1969.

        In defence of the producers, though, keep in mind that the Sesame Street set and environment was designed with the work of Jane Jacobs in mind: an idealised urban neighbourhood where collective “eyes on the street” (e.g. other parents, storekeepers, beat cops) made sure kids could wander and play freely while staying safe.

        I’m assuming that the man in the pilot episode, along with Mr. Hooper and the other grown-ups, was intended to be one of those trusted Sesame St. adults.

    2. and – it also planted the seed in an entire suburban generation that “the city” isn’t actually all that bad or as scary as your parents say it is.  subversive stuff.

    1. Shhh. If Newt Gin-soaked-Grinch hears that it’s not only publicly funded but also instructing children in the language of the ghetto it’s sure to be in jeopardy then between Mitts and Newts.

    2. Where I lived, they showed French segments instead of Spanish.  I lived in Buffalo, right near the border of Canada.

  3. I was in second grade when Sesame Street premiered.

    Because it was aimed a pre-schoolers, my classmates and all sighed and muttered excuses like “Yeah, I had to watch it because my mom turned it on for my little brother.”*

    And then we’d trade stories about the goofy stuff in the latest episode, because damned if we didn’t watch and enjoy it, despite being a couple of years older than the target demographic.

    * Most folks only had one TV set back then.

    1. I remember using that excuse. For Mister Rogers, too.  As though someone pulled a knife and said “damn it you must watch this television no matter what’s on!”

  4. Big Bird lives in a nest on a vacant lot next to a tenement with a wall made of discarded junk doors & befriends a guy who lives in some garbage can & has an imaginary elephant-ish creature as a friend. He’s clearly a social remora & part of the 47%. Just bulldoze the lot he lives on & build some big crappy insta-condo already.

    While we’re at it, just make Mr. Hooper’s place a wine bar… Be sure to persevere the original architectural features & a few ironic newspapers behind the counter to “honor” the guy.

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