Tonawanda News

Night & Day

November 16, 2009

COLUMN: Growing up on 'Sesame Street'

By Phil Dzikiy

Perhaps, “Sesame Street” isn’t quite what it used to be. There are so many children’s programming options now — numerous channels are devoted to kid TV — that one show just can’t have the same kind of impact it once did.

I usually hate to wax nostalgic about how everything, or anything, was better then. It’s even worse coming from a 20-something. But with the 40th anniversary of “Sesame Street” now upon us, I can’t help but feel grateful to grow up during a time when “the Street” was the dominant force in children’s television.

It’s impossible to quantify how much of an effect “Sesame Street” had on my formative years, but there are many segments that stick with me to this day.

Some of the old “Sesame Street” songs are still stuck in my head. Like the animated segment, with a pinball going through a machine while singers belted out, “One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine-ten-eleven-twelve!” Or the 12 ladybugs at the ladybugs’ picnic. Or “Somebody Come and Play.” Or Bert, “Doin’ the Pigeon.” Or “A New Way to Walk,” as sung by dancing pigs. Destiny’s Child remade that tune not long ago, but even Beyoncé couldn’t beat the Oinker Sisters.

And of course, my personal favorite, “There are chickens in the trees, there are chickens in the trees ... won’t you listen to me, please? There are chickens in the trees.” A fable about believing in something, maybe, but it was also grand nonsense.

Countless articles and studies have been published regarding “Sesame Street’s” educational and cultural influences, both of which are hard to overstate. Speaking from personal experience, the show also did a great job of instilling a love of music in children.

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