Monday, November 7, 2011

Growing Up Yesterday and Today……
This week is my birthday and the other day I was reminiscing about what it was like growing up sixty plus years ago. I remember so clearly, my mother a”h always reciting little ‘nursery rhyme verses’ to me. They became part of my first language skills.

As a very young child my room had framed pictures of ‘Mother Goose’ and other rhyme characters adorning my walls. The ceiling of my room was painted light blue with silver stars and a moon. A Twinkle Twinkle Little Star poster was on the door.

When I had children, there was not only Mother Goose, and the Disney characters, but the early Sesame Street friends came on the scene.

Everyone knew and loved Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and of course good old Pluto.

Big Bird was a very special friend, Count Von Count or just The Count taught my children to count to ten in English and Spanish. My daughters would love to show off how they could count in Spanish just like The Count.

Cookie Monsterme love cookies and Oscar the Grouch who lived in a garbage can were also special friends. My daughters had a large blue Cookie Monster and a very large Big Bird floor puzzle that brought them hours of fun and imagination. Sometimes the finished puzzle would be a boat and they would row and row. Oh, those were the days….. 

Who was Mother Goose? We think of “Mother Goose" as a a friendly old lady riding on the back of a goose. The rhyme about Mother Goose actually points to Mother Goose as being a witch. She flew on a goose (rather then a broom) she lived alone in the woods. But the big tip off is the "owl at the door". It is an animal that witches were believed to be able to take the form of.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, people were very concerned with witches, because they were unaware of why certain things occurred (storms, diseases,) and needed to have some explanation. So, witches became a scapegoat.

And of course, what about the egg man that fell and broke his head. Good ole Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty was a term used in fifteenth century England describing someone who was obese. Humpty Dumpty somehow became an egg in the illustrations in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Another thought is that Humpty Dumpty in this rhyme is believed to be a large cannon. The cannon was used during the English Civil War (1642-1649) in the Siege of Colchester (June 13, 1648 - August 27, 1648). The huge cannon, called Humpty Dumpty, was strategically placed on the wall. A shot from the Parliamentary cannon damaged the wall Humpty Dumpty sat on causing the cannon to "take a great fall". The Royalists or Cavaliers (all the King's men) attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall. They probably attempted to use horses to help lift it, hence all the king’s horses and all the king’s men.

I had to research the most famous of the Disney characters Mickey Mouse. According to Wikipedia, Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. He made his debut in November of that year. Mickey appeared in comics, movies and television. Mickey had a girlfriend named Minnie and his dog Pluto. There are toys, videos and theme parks that bear his famous name.

I remember watching the television series The Mickey Mouse Club [1955-1996] everyday after school. I knew the names of almost every Mouseketeer. My favourite was Annette Funicello.

Big Bird or sometimes just known as Bird was created in 1969. He is an eight-foot two-inch (249 cm) tall bright primrose-yellow Muppet bird. Big Bird can roller skate, ice skate, dance, sing, write poetry, draw and even ride a unicycle. Despite his wide array of talents, Big Bird is prone to frequent misunderstandings, on one occasion even singing the alphabet as one big long word and pondering what it could ever mean. Bird lives in a large nest behind the 123 Sesame Street brownstone.

Big Birds costume is a complete body suit and weighs ten pounds. The head weighs four pounds and according to writer Louise Gikow, the heat inside the suit is “unbearable”, and it's extraordinarily difficult to hold Big Bird's head.

Who is that fun loving big blue furry friend with large googly eyes? Cookie monster that’s who! Cookie Monster is a Muppet. He is best known for his appetite and his famous eating phrases: "Me want cookie!", "Me eat cookie!", and "Om nom nom nom" (said through a mouth full of food). He often eats anything and everything, including danishes, donuts, lettuce, apples, bananas, as well as normally inedible objects. However, as his name suggests, his preferred food is cookies. Chocolate chip cookies are his favorite kind and oatmeal cookies are his second favorite. Cookie Monsters signature song, "C is For Cookie", was first aired during the 1971-1972 season, and became one of the best-known songs from Sesame Street.

Oscar the Grouch is a furry, green Grouch who lives in a trash can on Sesame Street, in between 123 Sesame Street and Big Bird’s nest. In fact, he loves trash so much that he's rarely seen outside of his trash can. His trademark song is “I Love Trash” Oscar is Sesame Street's ultimate pessimist!
Oscar's mission in life is to be as miserable and grouchy as possible, and pass that feeling on to everyone else. When a visitor knocks on his trash can -- invariably interrupting him from a nap or an important task – Oscar greets them with a snarl. He complains that he wants to be left alone, although when he's left entirely to himself, he's dissatisfied -- there isn't anybody around to irritate or complain to.

As my children got older they loved to listen and sing Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah men songs. Uncle Moishy and the Mitzvah Men is a Jewish American children's group based in New York City. Lead musician and singer is Moshe Tanenbaum. The songs focus on the religious aspects of Judaism that most easily relate to young children and the project began in Toronto, Canada, in 1979. The original band members were Tanenbaum, Zale Neuman, and Chaim Shainhouse.

Today, my grandchildren have a whole array of super-heroes, music, books, videos and friends to keep themselves very busy. 

Growing up in the twenty-first century is a whole different ball game than when I or my children grew up. Technology is bursting everywhere. I’m not so sure this is really a good thing for children………….

Please leave a comment as to what you think about growing up and technology today?