Friday, March 20, 2015

The Electric Company

In October, 1971, I was a two-year veteran viewer of Sesame Street. I was also, in my own mind, a veteran student. After all, I had kindergarten in my past and had only just begun my experience in first grade. I can remember secretly rushing home after school to watch my favorite shows - secretly because they were "kid" shows - and I can remember the hype surrounding the newest offshoot of Sesame Street on television, The Electric Company.

When The Electric Company came out, I was really excited. Part of this was because I loved Sesame Street so much and I knew that this new show was supposed to be for grown-ups like my 6-year-old self. But mostly, it was because I lived two houses down from The Electric Company.

My world was not yet disturbed by the reality that I lived in a tiny little piece of a massive universe. I knew that there was a little store at the corner of my block named The Electric Company and I knew this television show was called The Electric Company, therefore I knew that all I had to do was walk a few steps and I would be looking straight into the world I was seeing on my television set.

It was exciting. It felt like my own little secret - that I lived so close to the fantastical characters and situations I watched on my TV.

The picture is of the building that was The Electric Company when I was very young. The building had originally been built as a corner "Mom and Pop" grocery store. While it was The Electric Company, those big windows across the front were filled with lights. Sparkly lights. Very shiny lights. Barely lit lights. Lights that flickered like candles. Before the television show, those lights held my attention. I would stand in front of that window and become mesmerized by the lights that looked like candles. After the show started, I still stood in front of that building, but now I was looking deeper into the darkness behind the lights - searching for Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno, and all the other super cool people that I knew were in there. I knew they were in there because this was The Electric Company.

In later years, the store left and this building became a hair salon, Kuttin' Korner. While convenient through my teenage years, the little building never again held my attention the way it did in the early 70s, and also never disappointed me as much as it did when I concluded that the television show was fake, The Electric Company on the corner was real. I would never see my Electric Company on television and I would never see the characters from the television within those windows.

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