Can You Tell Me How To Get to Sesame Street? by
10
(22 Stories)

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(Digital collage by the author.)

1977. The Muppets were family. I even had a hyper realistic dream that as I was tootling along in my green VW Beetle, I glanced in the rear view mirror and there were Bert and Ernie, in the back seat, and very much alive.

. . . it even had a breathtaking westerly view of the city promising fiery sunsets. That was all the drama I wanted.

What I remember most vividly, most viscerally, about the preschool period of my little girl’s life is that precious time in front of the TV. It wasn’t just mindless watching. We would snuggle, snack, laugh, participate, join in with the Count (“Do you know why they call me the Count? Because I love to count.”) and intermittently share details from our day.

The one-bedroom apartment was a godsend. A friend was moving out right away and had permission from her landlord to find someone to take over the lease before it was re-listed. It would surely be scooped up in no time, so I jumped at the chance over the course of one desperate weekend. The price was right, it was close to Erin’s preschool, and it was in one of my favorite areas, Echo Park, in the foothills just off Sunset Blvd. near downtown L.A., with snaking streets amidst lush foliage. Spanish style with a red tile roof and perched on a ridge, it even had a breathtaking westerly view of the city promising fiery sunsets. That was all the drama I wanted.

Erin now tucked safely under my wing, I set to work feathering our little nest with flea market finds, faux Oriental rugs, and cheap Indian print textiles I bought at Mehitabel’s down on Sunset. Over time I would pick up some of the belongings I’d left behind, but as we’d moved from a 3-bedroom ranch-style house into a 500-square-foot apartment, much of it went into storage.

We settled into a comfortable routine. Wake up sleepy head! Then breakfast — usually Cheerios or GrapeNuts — get dressed, hop into our bug and head to L.A. Family School, zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, my oh my what a wonderful day, where I’d leave my little moppet in hands just about as caring as mine, then drive across town to work at a film production house, reverse the routine to come home, then plop down in front of the TV together to watch Sesame Street, the highlight of my day. Safe, and secure. Familiar. Family. I’d pull off her little red sneakers, inhaling the scent of the top of her head, her dirty Oshkosh B’Gosh overalls. Then a simple dinner — often her favorite combo of Hebrew National Hog Dogs with ketchup (I know!) and a side of Kraft Mac & Cheese — then a bath, and off to bed. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Then I’d sit down at my  second job, typing deposition transcripts, and screenplays for aspiring writers, and then on the weekend, my third job, making and selling tie-dyed baby clothes.

And so it went for the next couple years. We commiserated with Big Bird’s frustration that no one else on the show ever saw Mr. Snuffleupagus and so they thought he was imaginary; we could see he was real and would shout at the TV when cast members showed up seconds after Snuffy had turned the corner and galumphed out of sight. We weren’t afraid of monsters, because — Cookie Monster, and Grover! And for Erin’s 5th birthday party, we chose a Kermit the Frog (“It’s not easy being green”) theme for the cake, cups, paper plates, napkins, and party hats.

It may not have been the easiest of times, but our muppet family kept us close, and smiling.

Profile photo of Barbara Buckles Barbara Buckles
Artist, writer, storyteller, spy. Okay, not a spy…I was just going for the rhythm.

I call myself “an inveterate dabbler.” (And my husband calls me “an invertebrate babbler.”) I just love to create one way or another. My latest passion is telling true stories live, on stage. Because it scares the hell out of me.

As a memoirist, I focus on the undercurrents. Drawing from memory, diaries, notes, letters and photographs, I never ever lie, but I do claim creative license when fleshing out actual events in order to enhance the literary quality, i.e., what I might have been wearing, what might have been on the table, what season it might have been. By virtue of its genre, memoir also adds a patina of introspection and insight that most probably did not exist in real time.

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Tags: Bert, Ernie, Sesame Street, television, preschool
Characterizations: funny, moving, well written

Comments

  1. Wonderful BB, I can see you nurturing your sweet little Erin in that safe home., lovely memory.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    How lovely that your Sesame Street family were such good companions for you and Erin after a long day. We loved them in our household too (I gave David those plush Bert and Ernie figures for Chanukkah one year). In fact, when we lived in a friend’s house during the time we tried to build on land in Brookline, just before we moved to our current location, I could only get a shower while David was strapped into his high chair, watching Sesame Street, occupied eating Cheerios. Then I could quickly run into the nearby bathroom for my quick hose-down and be done for the day.

  3. Marian says:

    What a heartwarming story, Barbara. I love how you found that the apartment and the TV shows lent so much security and comfort at a time when there might have been a lot less.

  4. Suzy says:

    Barbara, what a lovely story, about so much more than the TV show that you and Erin watched together as you snuggled. I love this portrait of the preschool period of your and your daughter’s life. And I love the featured image of you in the car with Bert and Ernie in the rear-view mirror. Very impressive piece of art! Thank you for all of it!

    • Thanks, Suzy — I’m pleased that you picked up on the nuances I was hoping to convey in my story, and so glad you like the image! I am a Photoshop geek: the car, rear view mirror, photo of me, image of Bert and Ernie, and the cloud in the mirror are all separate pieces.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Barbara, I love your digital collage. You will have to teach me how to do that! Your story evokes happy memories of snuggling with my kids watching Sesame Street, like you, and Mister Rogers. In addition to snuggling over books together, sharing these shows were precious memories. I love your descriptions of those beloved muppets.

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