Searching For John-John

You know how you’ll be watching a Culture Club video on YouTube, and someone in the comments will inevitably dump all over current pop culture and say that everything “back in their day” was better?

80s better

A true voice of authority

Yeah, I’m not going to do that.

But I kind of am.

You see, Wee Cee is more interested in watching vintage Sesame Street than watching the new stuff on TV. That’s not to say that the new stuff isn’t compelling or worth its weight in graham crackers, but when you have a toddler, you end up watching what they like. Luckily for my husband and me, Cee prefers the stuff that we grew up on.

Namely, John-John.

Courtesy Children's Television Workshop

Brought to you by the Children’s Television Workshop. And the letter A for awesome.

John-John was a three year old who appeared on Sesame Street when the show was in its own toddlerhood in the early 70′s. He talked with Herry Monster, Grover, Bert, and Sherlock Hemlock about counting, feelings, and friendship. The skits are heartwarming and tender, so much so that this is not the first time I’ve brought him up.

This stuff is priceless:

I talk a lot about how important it is to me and B to raise Cee in an intimate, safe place, and I believe that that’s one of the reasons why the John-John sketches appeal to us all so much. In the skits, John-John and the Muppets create a space where a child can be a child and a Muppet can be a Muppet. Cee learns about up and down, and I learn a little about teaching my child to feel entitled to her emotions. Just like that, Sesame Street is still teaching me things, 30 years later. It’s pretty much the best. We’ll forgive the whole Katy Perry/ Elmo snafu.

There’s just something about John-John. His innocence wasn’t staged, and the emotions he expressed are as pure as they come. His joy and unabashed adorability made me wonder where he is now and what he would have to say about his experience on Sesame Street. I’d love to ask him what factors he thinks contributed to his childhood kindness and empathy, and what it was like to have a physical, real connection with Sesame Street as a child. I’d love to thank him for being who he was.

Then it occurred to me that there is no reason that I cannot tell and ask him these things. He’s a real person. He’s not trapped in a TV or my computer.

So I googled him to try to track down an email, which, as you might imagine, was a little hard considering his name is John Williams. However, using the Muppet Wiki*, I learned that Mr. Williams joined the Air Force as a young man and even made an appearance in uniform on the 20th anniversary special of Sesame Street. He married, had two children of his own, studied to be an accountant, and aspired to be a Tejano singer in San Antonio. The paper trail kind of peters out past 1998, though.

*Yes, that is a thing; the world is amazing so don’t write it off just yet.

So I’m taking to the blog. Do you know John Williams III? Do you know someone who knows him? Do you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows him? You get it. Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter or email me at thewaitingblog(at)gmail(dot)com. Help me find John-John!

Please pass this post along because I’d love to tell Mr. Williams all that he means to my family and me. We’re lucky to live in a time when the world is made smaller by social media, and I hope to put it to good use finding and thanking him for being Cee’s favorite non-puppeted Sesame pal. (In case you wondered, Cookie Monster is her favorite Muppet. She calls him by name: Coo-KAH!)

I’ll keep you all updated on any developments I have in finding our favorite Sesame kid!

john-john

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58 comments

  1. I do hope we find him! I love old Sesame Street, too, before the days of Abby and her stupid flying fairy school that takes up 20% of Sesame Street real estate.

    1. I hope we find him too! I cannot wrap my brain around Abby. Her voice makes me want to eat chalk.

      1. And Donagan or whatever his name is. YIKES! Depressive fairy, anyone?

  2. I don’t remember John John, but I loved Sesame Street growing up. A lot of the programming on PBS doesn’t meet my exacting standards anymore. I loved Arthur and Dragon Tales and Clifford… Now there’s Word Girl and a bunch of other weird stuff.

    1. I am the one and only person in my home who doesn’t like Word Girl. It always seems like it’s trying too hard to be educational Power Puff Girls.

  3. Oh my gosh! I have not though about John-John since I was a little kid. I think I watched those episodes when they were actually on. He was one of my favorites too!! I hope that you find him!!

    1. He is the best! Thank you! I hope we find him too!

  4. Baby C loves Cookie Monster, too, but Elmo is his favorite. Then Ernie. Then Cookie Monster.

    1. Elmo is slooooowly growing on Cee, but Cookie Monster is her kryptonite. She could watch him all day long!

      1. I’d rather listen to Cookie Monster than Elmo.

        1. Cookie Monster is actually pretty droll sometimes.

          1. True. But still…better than Elmo…

  5. How nice that you looked up the grown-up John-John! I hope you find him. It would be nice to know what he’s doing now so long after he was that cute little kid on Sesame Street. But he’ll always be that little three-year-old to Cee.

    1. I really hope we find him too! It’s a long shot, but it’s worth a try ;)

  6. Most excellent. I loved the days when snuffulufugus was only in big bird’s imagination.

    1. What’s sad is that I don’t think Snuffy is even on Sesame Street anymore. We get so few glimpses of Big Bird nowadays too.

  7. Be careful about meeting your heroes. They are never as cool in person.

    My dad could probably find him if you have any more information on him other than his name like a birth date, place of birth, etc.

    1. You are just preparing me for when I eventually meet you. It will be a sad day when I realize Tim is not immortal.

      According to the Muppet Wiki, he was born in New York City around 1970.

  8. I loved Sesame Street as a kid…sadly all four of my children were opposite. I’m like, “This is good stuff!” and they are like, “No, Dad…no. You’re old!”

    1. Did you like Mr. Rogers too? When we were growing up, my brother couldn’t stand him but I loved him and I still do.

      1. Yes. I watched Mr. Rogers because he came on right after. I liked the trolley. Haha.

        1. There is an amazing video where someone has autotuned a bunch of his clips together into a song. Worth checking out ;D

          1. I have seen it! The Something Brothers… I can’t remember their name. I think it begins with a S.

  9. According to IMDB, he sas a key grip on a documentary in 2010.
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1935048/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

    Might be a good starting point checking with the Camera/Electrical movie unions.

    1. Thanks! Great tip! I will check that out! Thanks, Guap!

  10. OMG, what a fabulous idea! Find him! Find him! We love his work with Grover. Inspiring!

    1. I loooooooove that clip with him and the Groves. It is so sweet! “Grova, count this penny.” “One.”

      1. Super Grover is a fav, too. If you haven’t gotten it already, you have to get Cece “The Monster at the End of This Book.” Practice your Grover voice.

  11. I know someone named John-John…but I don’t think it’s the same guy.
    And yes, I loved that little kid on Sesame Street!!!

    1. I was hoping you’d exercise your PBS connections with this one! ;D

      1. I’ll try on Monday when I go back to work! Sesame Street is a client of ours.

  12. I know how much you love that video and am completely on board with stalking, I mean, hunting down John John. Is hunting better than stalking? Let’s go with your word, finding.

    1. I like to think I’m hunting him down in the nicest possible way. I agree, “finding” is a little less sinister ;D

  13. I really hope you are able to find John-John because that would be a magical moment. Sesame Street is very comforting and kind. I’m saying that even though puppets scare me quite a bit.

    1. Thanks! I am actually kind of amazed that some of the Muppets don’t scare C. I mean, if you look at Cookie Monster from a unbiased perspective, he’s a little terrifying. I guess all those cookie crumbs and his lack of grasp for the English language disarm him.

  14. I remember him! I was the kid there at Sesame Street’s inception, since I’m 50. He is adorable. Good luck!

    1. Are you originally from NYC? Maybe you brushed shoulders with him as a kid, Sandee! ;D

      1. I was born and raised in Manhattan, yes. I do know a lot of people — maybe. Now I’ll be on the lookout!

  15. This made me smile. Love that you want to let him know what his time on Sesame Street means. to you. I look forward to seeing what happens with this!

    1. Thank you! I really hope I have something to report back soon!

  16. I totally remember John-John!!! I thought he was soooo lucky that he got to meet those badass Muppets. He was the shit.

    1. I agree! Please share the heck out of this post because I really want to find him. I’ll even make you some cupcakes if you help me.

      http://craftfail.com/2011/08/cookie-monster-cupcake-fail/

      1. THAT POOR MONSTER!!!

  17. Oh, thanks for sharing this video, Ems! That kid is soooooo adorable I wanna get sucked into the monitor just so I could squish him haha. Cee has good taste, doesn’t she?

    May the forces be with you in finding John-John!!! ;)

    1. She really has good taste, no? Thanks for the good juju! I’ll take all the help I can get!

  18. I love this. LOOOOOOVE.

    I visited friends a couple months ago and they were showing their daughter old-school Muppet Show, and it made me so happy. If I ever had kids, I would so show them old-school things like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and Mr. Rogers.

    Oscar was my favorite. So wonderfully grouchy. He’s my role model.

    1. Cee really loves Mr. Rogers too! As much as I love the PBS kids programming now, the older stuff really seems better because there is so much more of an emphasis on giving kids the vocabulary to talk about their feelings and frustrations. I miss that in today’s shows. Except for Arthur, almost all of the PBS shows are about reading and vocabulary.

      1. If you find him can you put out an all call for my childhood dog. My parents gave him away.

    1. Hehe I know….I linked it in the post ;D

      1. I’m on vacation this week so I don’t have to use my brain AT ALL. And it’s working! BY GOD IT’S WORKING!

  19. Love, love, love, Emily! I have no wee ones around (for now) but I still have old Sesame Street videos (yes, videos)… of the 25th anniversary, around the world, etc… and John John! Love that little guy! He is THE sweetest. So hoping you find him, and we can all tell him how much he meant to us, and our kids… and on and on… lovely post, friend.

  20. Did you find him? Have you found him yet? Have you? Did you? Where is he? Sesame street got me through many a tough day when I was little and had an operation which left me in a plaster cast hip to ankle down both legs. Sesame street got me through that time. So have you found him yet?

    1. I am on the trail! I think I have his email (clarification: I have AN email and I think it’s his) and now I just need to compose a message to him that’s not too stalky.

      1. Oo, exciting! Blog that shit.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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