January
27th 2010
Mid-week treat: visual madelines for the original Sesame Street generation

Posted under: American history, art, childhood, Dolls, fluff

This is the Sesame Street short film from back in the day that was immediately called to my mind by Flavia’s recent post on book covers, more specifically, by the book cover she nominates as the freakiest of all time:  “the original cover art for Stanley Fish’s Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth-Century Literature (1972),” which she calls “hideous and compelling at the same time.”  (Go over to her place to see it, and the full-size blowup when you click on it.  It is impressively weird.)  Incidentally, “Rolling Ball 1, 2, 3 (rare ending)” is the only one I remember–I never saw the version with the cherry sundae ending until last night.

When I was over at YouTube researching this short film, the film below came up as a related video.  It’s shocking how much I recall about this–from the tiny tin plates and tiny spoons, to the totally envy-inducing little working lamp in the dolls’ bedroom.  (Oddly, I have no recall whatsoever of the cat attack.)  Now, just try to resist the urge to click and join me in my reverie!

19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Mid-week treat: visual madelines for the original Sesame Street generation”

  1. Widgeon on 27 Jan 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I wanted that doll house! And those tiny spoons… I even remember the cat attack. As for the first “rolling ball” clip I remember being faintly disturbed by that particularly aesthetic as a 1970s kid. Too grown up and too modern. The domesticity of the dollhouse (which my feminist mother would disapprove of) was comforting by contrast. And speaking of disturbing, the Electric Company I remember as fairly psychedelic. There must have been some older siblings dropping acid while watching PBS.

  2. Notorious Ph.D. on 27 Jan 2010 at 10:35 am #

    My mother forbade me to watch the Electric Company. Because of that Rita Moreno character, the director who kept hitting people with a whip. Too violent.

    Yep: I was the only kid I know who had to sneak PBS children’s programming.

  3. Penny on 27 Jan 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Hey Notorious, I have the old Electric Company on DVD, 3-disc box set–it made a fine 40th birthday present, and my kid thinks it’s pretty hilarious.

    Loved seeing the rolling 1-2-3 ball again, watched it several times over just now; but my husband (same age, US-born and middle-class raised) didn’t have any memory of it. Clearly deprived.

    I remembered the dollhouse clip too. What I love is the ending, girls laughing about the cats on a spree–they’re not fussy little perfect misses who are upset by a little mayhem.

  4. GayProf on 27 Jan 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Gee — Counting to two. They weren’t aiming particularly high with their educational content, were they?

  5. Historiann on 27 Jan 2010 at 10:58 am #

    GayProf–don’t you remember? Math is hard–for girls.

    (I agree with you that counting to two is pretty underachieving. They might at least have made it bilingual and had them count to 2 en espanol, too.)

    I knew there were many of you just about exactly my age who might remember these!

  6. Indyanna on 27 Jan 2010 at 11:20 am #

    Who could resist a YouTube tagged “cat attack?” Never saw either of these, but the first one for some reason reminds me of losing a cool pith helmet to the headwinds while riding down the Log Flume ride with an eight year old at Sesame PLACE–an expensively-ticketed spin-off project in Pennsylvania that tried to get a tax exclusion from the local township on the claim of being an “educational” institution. No go, but they had a cool Log Flume. Or wait, maybe the flume was at Rye Playland. Whatever. A madeleine at mid-week hits the spot!

  7. Bing on 27 Jan 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Wow. That rolling ball was a fully visceral flashback…and that track was pretty dang complicated! I never realized that. I remember both of the endings, actually. You never knew which one was going to come out, the cherry or the powder.

    I remember the doll short too, but I’m looking at the little cutlery now and thinking what a choking hazard it is. Isn’t that sad?

    HJ

  8. Historiann on 27 Jan 2010 at 1:34 pm #

    Ha!

    I think you’re right, Bing. Plus, the little spoons and bowls were likely made out of nickel-coated lead, so they probably killed those little girls sooner (by choking) or later (lead poisoning.)

    And let’s not get started on the possibility of anaphylactic shock brought on by a cat allergy. . .

    You kids don’t know what we children of the 1960s and 1970s survived! The gauntlets we ran! Then again, we (and our children) may just be evolution’s rightful victors. Those of you who grew up in the 5-point harness carseat era probably shouldn’t spawn, for the health of the species.

  9. cgeye on 27 Jan 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    (Gantlet)

    And yes, I’m so old I remember when Oscar was *orange*.

  10. Historiann on 27 Jan 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Oscar was orange???

    WTF?

  11. Katherine on 27 Jan 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Gosh, I remember them both so vividly, although I only saw them in black and white. I loved that doll house! Eventually I had a doll house of my own, with plates and tableware. Just a prelude to my secret desire to be an interior decorator!

  12. Historiann on 27 Jan 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Katherine–we can haz playdate? (I’ll bring the cats.)

    I have to confess that I take a somewhat embarassing amount of delight in reading “Two Bad Mice,” by Beatrix Potter, in which Mr. Tom Thumb and his wife Hunca Munca (the title characters) go into a dollhouse and trash it. They’re angered by the lovely plaster ham and fish that are inedible and won’t come off the plates, so they trash the place like The Who at the Holiday Inn.

  13. Indyanna on 27 Jan 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    I’d pay good money to see a YouTube digitalized reenhancement of Thumb and Hunca Munca trashing a dollhouse. For copyright purposes, I suppose, you’d have to call it Two Baaaaad Mice, or something like that. I (almost) saw The Who coming up, when they probably were actually staying in Holiday Inns, or playing in places like Granville, O., which only HAD Holiday Inns. But, I guess “almost” doesn’t count in blogstalgia…

  14. Liz2 on 27 Jan 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    Notorious – I had to sneak PBS too. My mother cut the plug off our tv and only had someone reattach it when an opera she wanted to see was on PBS. Sometimes she wouldn’t cut the plug off but would hide the tv, until my older sister and I found it and she caught us watching PBS, then she’d cut the plug off again. And I’m 39, so I should have recognized the videos.

    Historiann – I love the image of the Beatrix Potter characters “trashing the place like the Who at the Holiday Inn” – fantastic! I must read your book, just because you write so vividly.

  15. cgeye on 28 Jan 2010 at 12:43 am #

    Historiann – first season, he was orange. Had the 45 of I LOVE TRASH to prove it….

    And I had to sneak PBS back when they showed butt-nekkid theatre and experimental TV, which is so far back in the day I swear I imagined it….

  16. Digger on 28 Jan 2010 at 5:22 am #

    OMG I’d totally forgotten the 1-2-3. It came back all in a rush with the music! Because we lived close enough to the US to catch US broadcasts, I can’t tell you if I remember this from American Sesame Street or the Canadian version. Perhaps it was culture-neutral enough to play on both…

  17. Cattyinqueens on 28 Jan 2010 at 6:38 am #

    Oooh, i totally remembered that, and the memory of the kitty cat invasion was much stronger in my memory than anything else–I was a tom boy and loved cats more than dolls even then. But I love that you remembered Two Bad Mice, because that’s exactly what I was thinking about as I was remembering how much I loved the kitties coming in at the end!

    I think the lesson wasn’t so much about counting to 2, but something a little more complicated (but perhaps equally troubling) about domesticity; there’s some line in there about the two little girls being grown up because they set the table. Being a grown-ass woman means keeping house, having tea and plates and knowing how many.

    Or, less cynically, perhaps it’s about how two little dolls can have a boston marriage and grow old together drinking tea and raising cats.

  18. Historiann on 28 Jan 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Cattyinqueens–I like your second reading better! After all, Lucinda and Jane have a similar Boston Marriage in Two Bad Mice. . . I think the disruption of domestic perfection by the cats makes the message less Martha Stewart and more about the chaos of kids and cats. (I think that, given the Sesame Street mission, the fact that the girls were caucasian and asian playing together was perhaps the bigger point the film was trying to make.)

    Glad you all enjoyed the memories! And cgeye–thanks for the intel on Oscar. I never caught the butt-nekkid days of PBS, and I’m fascinated to hear about Notorious’s and Liz2′s mothers disapproving of PBS! My mother had a countdown in her head all day long until she could plop us in front of Sesame Street, which was followed by the always soothing and lovely Mr. Rogers. PBS was her “mother’s little helper,” from what she tells me now.

    And Liz2: thanks for your compliments, but my book is the standard, boring monograph. The reason I have a blog is because I can write about Sesame Street, Beatrix Potter, and the Who–whereas I can’t really fit those into my analyses of 17th and 18th C North American history.

  19. Hello, I’m Johnny Trash : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 20 Nov 2010 at 8:56 am #

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