Street Gang

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Today's book was suggested by C. and Alissa.

Here's the description from the inside cover of the book; "One evening in early 1966 a group of friends were gathered at a Manhattan dinner party, where the conversation eventually turned to a subject a number of them had been pondering independently: Why couldn't television be used to teach children? Although a few earnest attempts had been made to turn the medium into something more than a frantic parade of advertising for sugary cereals and noisy toys, it remained a largely untapped resource. That dinner, however, began a dialogue and a crusade that changed the face of television forever, for it was there that the ground was laid for one of the most influential, durable, and beloved shows in history. At long last, the three generations of viewers who have grown up with the series now have a book that answers the lyrical question, "Can you tell mehow to get to Sesame Street?" The answer lies between these covers."

Sesame Street was a huge part of my childhood, due in large part to my sister's obsession with the show. She absolutely loved Sesame Street, especially Ernie and Bert. She insisted on wearing red sneakers (which had to be called sneakers because that's what Ernie called them) and saddle shoes just like Bert's. We listened to the Sesame Street Christmas album from September until January, every single year. We went to see Sesame Street live several times, and we traveled to Indianapolis to see the traveling Sesame Street exhibit at the children's museum. The look on her face when were there was one of pure joy, and I have evidence of that:

(Please excuse the cut edges on the pictures dear readers, that was just some crazy thing I was doing with my photo albums in the late 80's.)

And then there's Big Ernie. I would describe him to you, but it will be a lot easier to just show him to you:

She never wanted to go anywhere without Big Ernie - and as you can see by the picture below, she rarely ever did.

She even brought him on vacation with us, and insisted and strapping him into the seat belt between us. I can only imagine what the people in the car behind us were thinking when they saw our powder blue mini van driving down the highway (or I should say speeding down the highway since that's my Dad's preferred way of traveling) with what looks like three children in the backseat . . . except one of them appears to be orange.

Okay, now on to talking about the actual book: The book is probably not the best pick for a person who only wants to hear the surface details behind Sesame Street. This book is much more in-depth than that, and includes a mini-history of children's television, as well as the backstory for most of the people involved in bringing Sesame Street to the airwaves. I enjoyed the whole book, but preferred the parts that dealt more with the actual creation of Sesame Street.

Fun facts about Sesame Street:

  • During the first rehearsal for Bert and Ernie Jim Henson was playing Bert and Frank Oz was playing Ernie. (I haven't felt this startled since I found out that Betty White was originally supposed to play Blanche and Rue McClanahan was supposed to play Rose on The Golden Girls).

  • The other names that were considered before Frank Oz settled on Grover were Armand and Hector.

  • Oscar was originally orange.