I can hear your brain matter churning as you read these words. Probably asking yourself, “How does the big yella fella have anything to do with an Air Force base?”
Well, the story goes like this:
Several of us in technical training to become main frame computer operators were sitting around the dayroom one evening studying for a big exam the next day while munching on our favourite snack, Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries.
Someone switched on the television and the local PBS channel came on, complete with my soon-to-be best buddy, the Bird. Turns out one of my classmates and best buddies professes to actually be Big Bird’s nephew.
Well, say it ain’t so, Mother Maybelle!
Of course we took Mike to task over this statement, that he, a lowly airman, could be related to the most notable of all aviaries of the time.
You can only imagine the consternation in my friend's demeanor when we all challenged him on this very point. Things were said like, “If you’re Big Bird’s nephew, then I must be Capt. Kangaroo’s twin brother,” and such.
My buddy Mike was not about to let it go, so off he goes to the pay phone, punches in a number and calls me over to the phone to be his verifying entity.
Wouldn’t you know, within minutes I was on the phone with the Bird himself!
I have to admit that I was still a bit skeptical, but when that autographed photo showed up in the orderly room addressed to our training flight, I knew it was true. From that moment on, our flight was known as “The Junior Birdmen” — something I still value with pride to this day.
So it saddened me just about a year ago when PBS announced the coming demise of my feathery friend. How could they rush to seek a character’s departure from the airways who had helped literally millions of youngsters learn to read and write and count and learn their ABC’s.
He is of that genre that transcends time — just as funny, just as cute and yellow as ever. Along with Bert and Ernie and Count and all the other lovable characters generations have come to love, Big Bird deserves a place in the hall of fame for childhood heroes.
Who’s next? The Cookie Monster himself? Again, say it ain’t so!
I’m not so keen on NPR as I am on PBS, so you can take that radio money and give it to the television folks, as far as I’m concerned. Although, I do enjoy listening to Prairie Home Companion each weekend to learn all about the news from Lake Wobegon. I really do believe that the Public Broadcasting System does bring us some of the best television we can get.
So, before we write-off and forget the yellowest of yellow birds to ever exist, let’s think again.
Remember, the Bird is the word.
Dennis Norwood is a reporter for The Catoosa County News. He can be reached at 706-935-2621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.