“I used to say I’d move on to something greater,” said Caroll Spinney, who died Sunday at the age of 85. “I wouldn’t leave this for anything. I’d like to keep doing it until I can’t hold that bird’s head up.”
In a lively urban Manhattan neighborhood, the Robinson and Rodriquez families spend nice days on the stoop of their brownstone at 123 Sesame Street. The families have come to terms with some of the neighbors, many of whom are animals and monsters there’s no getting rid of. That’s part of New York City’s charm.
Long ago, Gordon and Susan Robinson accepted their apartment’s bird’s nest view and got to know the towering yellow canary, who in the early days of his roost on Sesame Street was a little rough for having lived outside—the feathers on his head were sparse, and he wasn’t as full and round as he became in the subsequent 49 years he spent on the show. He’s prone to the same misunderstanding of the adult world as are the children around him, but learning the alphabet isn’t for the birds. Instead, he sings and draws, sometimes roller skates along with the others on the street—once he got on a horse backwards and wondered where the horse’s head was. At the end of the day, the lessons he learns are pearls of wisdom for the kids who know him.