Happy 50th Anniversary to Sesame Street! My story on classic sketches, memorable cartoons, and forgotten characters.

sesame street baker
The Sesame Street Baker fell down the stairs with his dessert.

Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969, on WTTW-TV Channel 11 in Chicago. I was in the first grade when I first watched it, and my family and I lived in the Roseland neighborhood in Chicago. I didn’t watch Sesame Street in color, because we had a black and white TV set at the time. The show was on twice a day, Monday through Friday at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

There were so many classic characters, sketches, songs and cartoons that are fondly remembered today. My two favorites from the show are when Bert and Ernie are sleeping in their bedroom, and Ernie was having trouble sleeping. Bert suggested to him that he counts sheep. Ernie was counting, and the animated sheep were baaing loudly. Then, Ernie realized that counting sheep was boring, and he chose to count fire engines. So he started counting them, and the fire alarms went off and scared Bert out of his wits. Bert told Ernie that counting fire engines was too loud and it would have awakened the whole neighborhood. So, Ernie suggested counting balloons, because they were quiet and just sat there. Ernie started counting and the animated balloon started to inflate. The balloon popped loudly, shook up the apartment and Bert started screaming. Ernie said one and Bert fainted on the floor. That one was hilarious!

The next one was the Martians or The Yip Yips. They were the funniest Muppet characters I have seen. Their appearance and dialogue were classics. The most famous one is when they landed on earth outside a house and noticed a telephone. They assumed it was an earthling and started greeting to it. So, they had a reference book about Earth and looked up what that thing was. First, they said it was a cow and starting mooing. It wasn’t a cow, and then looked up in the book and decided it was a cat. They started meowing at it, and that didn’t work either. Finally, they looked up in the book again and said chicken. They started clucking at it and failed again. Then, all of a sudden, the telephone rang, and The Martians were in shock. Their bottom lips covered their faces and realized they found a new friend. They mocked the telephone by saying, “Brrrringgg.” I loved that one so much. I never get tired of watching it.

One of my favorite sketches was with the number painter. He was played by Paul Benedict who played Harry Bentley on the TV show, The Jeffersons. He would paint numbers on certain objects that he saw where it was acceptable. The people involved with the situations of him painting where he wasn’t allowed to, were either surprised, annoyed, angry or pleased. He used numbers from two to eleven.

The Muppets on Sesame Street are still on the show, but some disappeared during the show’s run.  There was Sherlock Hemlock, Guy Smiley, The Amazing Mumford, Herbert Birdsfoot, Mr. Johnson who was a customer in a restaurant when Grover works as a waiter, Sam The Robot, Slimey the Worm, Herry Monster and Roosevelt Franklin. Some are still there using old clips, and they are shown infrequently.

The next one was the Martians or The Yip Yips. They were the funniest Muppet characters I have seen. Their appearance and dialogue were classics. The most famous one is when they landed on earth outside a house and noticed a telephone. They assumed it was an earthling and started greeting to it. So, they had a reference book about Earth and looked up what that thing was. First, they said it was a cow and starting mooing. It wasn’t a cow, and then looked up in the book and decided it was a cat. They started meowing at it, and that didn’t work either. Finally, they looked up in the book again and said chicken. They started clucking at it and failed again. Then, all of a sudden, the telephone rang, and The Martians were in shock. Their bottom lips covered their faces and realized they found a new friend. They mocked the telephone by saying, “Brrrringgg.” I loved that one so much. I never get tired of watching it.

My favorite animated segments were the Jazz Numbers. Each segment would feature a number with a catchy song about it. Grace Slick sang all the segments. At the end of each segment, it would show the ten jazzy spies revealing the numbers by opening their trench coats. The numbers were from two to ten. Other animated segments that I remembered were Wanda The Witch, The King of Eight, The Lady Bug’s Picnic, The O Song, and the orange that sang an opera song.

The last one I will mention was The Baker. Each segment from one to ten would flash the number very rapidly, and certain people would say how many objects they had. At the end of the segments, they would have the baker announcing what dessert he would be holding and then clumsily fall down the stairs, making a huge mess. When I saw the first one, I had the urge to wait for the second one, then the third. You would have to wait every week for those. All of them are on YouTube.

The Sesame Street theme song is still played on the show. I remembered at the beginning of the end credits, and someone from the show would say Sesame Street was brought to you today by the letter “M” and the number “5.”Then, every week they show the signs that said Sesame Street is a production of The Children’s Television Workshop. All the cast members and the Muppets showing the signs.

They are so many characters and sketches that I remembered, it’s very hard to list them all. Characters came and went due to popularity, unexpected deaths, or cast members leaving the show. There are many videos on YouTube that feature all the classic scenes, including the first show. Sesame Street educated and entertained at the same time when we were growing up in the 70s, 80s, 90s and so on. If you have a favorite memory of Sesame Street, please comment here. Also, comment on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you. Pete Kastanes, Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook page.

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