When Sesame Street first aired in the fall of 1969 I was nine, a little older than the target audience. But I remember watching the show in our apartment in the Bankcroft Building on West 121st Street in New York City. If the Bankcroft sounds fancy, more often than not the elevator was broken and we got to ride the freight with the super.
There were seven of us living in a smallish 2-bedroom while my father got his doctorate at Teachers College of Columbia University across the street. When the front door was opened, the kitchen disappeared behind it. My parents slept on a pullout in the living room. To get some alone time I would read in the clawfoot tub for hours on end.
The college had a school for the children of graduate students. It was probably also some kind of weird 60s education experiment. The grades were combined—I think mine was 4th, 5th and 6th—and the classroom was often chaotic. It was taught by a team of two teachers, and at least one left (possibly drafted) and was replaced during the school year. Lester who took care of the gym tried to teach us how to pick locks. There was so little supervision that I went to the library two days straight to watch the Mets-Orioles World Series (they played in the daytime back then!) on the black and white TV way up on one of those multimedia carts. It was my dad who finally discovered me in there. Despite being a fellow Mets fan, he was not happy.
There was plenty of activity around the Columbia campus in 1969, but I don’t remember too much. I did write a collection of anti-drug poems and ran them off on a ditto machine. To distribute my work, I placed the poems in pocket holders I had made of construction paper and put them up all over the college. My first self-publishing venture.
It was only a day or two after we found out Stephanie was pregnant that I spotted this lamp in the Salvation Army. And so Big Bird came to be the first object purchased specifically with this future soul in mind.
Since then we’ve acquired about a roomful of stuff–a changing table, a crib, a bunch of plastic gates, a stroller, a thing that rocks the baby, another changing table, something called a pack and play, two car seats. Steph’s mom gave us a super cute stack of gently used baby boy clothes. There are toys, and a bookshelf full of children’s books. Thankfully, most of the items came from various friends who had babies not so long ago.
It’s an impressive collection of things for someone not born yet. I’m thinking of having a yard sale to lighten his burden.
Random question: Both Woodstock and Sesame Street are 40 years old this year. Which has had a greater influence on our culture?