Mr. Dressup turned 85 this week. I grew up with this man and his pal, Casey; Rusty and the Friendly Giant, and the ladies at Chez Helene. Although the latter, I must admit, was always beyond my comprehension. I think I watched it only because it came on the same channel and I didn’t know how to switch it over to something else.
I’ve been thinking about childhood memories, at least the televised ones, since my friend Kristen, The Good Typist, wrote a blog asking which character on Sesame Street was your favorite. She posited a theory that who we most related to is reflected in our lives today as adults. I wrote in her comment section that although I was (ahem) outside the Sesame Street era I did have what I call my childhood mentors. The most important one coming not from TV but from a book: The Ugly Duckling. Family legend has me begging my Nana to read it aloud every night. And, even though I was a cute kid (really!), something inside me must have resonated with that little duck. Perhaps I just needed to feel hope that everything was truly going to be okay. Does the duckling reflect who I am as an adult? I would have to say yes in that my life goal seems to be about transforming my so called “ugly” parts—the ones I am ashamed of—to work for rather than against me. The little duck was indeed my mentor.
Then there were the other cartoon characters of my childhood. How did they colour my personality? I definitely admired Bugs Bunny with all her street smarts and the innocent looking but savvy Tweety Bird but I think I thought they were beyond my reach. I would still love to be able to toss out the wise cracks of Bugs but most times I feel like the hapless Wile E. Coyote. Then again, maybe that is a good thing. I like the way he always picked himself up and carried on after a tough day of chasing the Road Runner. And while I truly hope the latter didn’t brush off on me with her subtle passive aggressiveness, I fear I learned her lessons all to well in times of darkness.
So which childhood cartoon or book character were your mentors? Who helped form your adult personality? I invite your comments and, just for fun, let’s keep this to the time you were real small, when picture books, easy readers or the cartoons on TV were your main source of inside entertainment.