`Sesame Street' 25 Years Old

Harvard Undergrads Recall Favorites in Children's Show

Today's Crimson is brought to you by the word "birthday" and the number 25.

A full year of festivities marking the 25th birthday of the children's classic "Sesame Street" will begin next week with the release of a new video, "Sesame Street's 25th Birthday: A Musical Celebration," by Random House.

Harvard students were shocked that Big Bird and Oscar are, at 25, older than most undergraduates.

"I can't believe Sesame Street is 25. That's so old, it's scary," said Edward B. Staebler '95.

The Eliot resident said his favorite character was Ernie because he thought they looked alike, except Staebler didn't have a rubber ducky like the orange muppet.

For some students, the strongest recollection of sunny days on Sesame Street was the program's educational message.

"Sesame Street was my inspiration to make me read and write," said Heather D. Hughes '95 of Dunster House.

"I could read early because I wanted to understand what was going on," he said.

Foreign students said "Sesame Street" helped them learn about life in the United States.

"I learned English from Sesame Street," said Chris H. Kwak '97, who immigrated to this country from Korea when he was a young child, six years old.

And some who grew up in the United States said the show taught them about other cultures. "Sesame Street gives kids a good advantage. It prepares them for diversity in the world," said Scott F. Malcolm '97.

But Sesame Street influenced more than people's intellect and cultural awareness.

It was also, she said, the occasion of one student's first date--at age five.

"The guy didn't know what Sesame Street was and I couldn't believe it," said Julie K. Green '96. "So, I invited him over to watch it. We had a great time."

Some students simply identified with the puppets. Spencer G. Levy '95 said his favorite character was The Count. "He'd get caught up in the drapes, the same way I did at my grandmother's," Levy said.

Eric D. Grahling '96 couldn't choose between best friends Bert and Ernie.

"Ernie's always in trouble and Bert's always saving him," he said. "They're different but still best friends."

But it was manic Grover who had without doubt the biggest student following.

"I used to love Super Grover. I had a Super Grover Cape and would wear it around the house," said Laura J. Letterer '95.

"Nothing beats Grover," was the opinion of Peter F. Wallace '97. "My mother would hear me laughing hysterically and she'd know I was watching Grover yodeling. Grover was the best."

And for some students, "Sesame Street" isn't just a memory.

"It seems like yesterday that Sesame Street was helping me with my lessons," said Jason B. Shanker '95. "Wait a minute, that was yesterday."