recess radio program

04/30/07
Two One Thousand
    by John Cech

If we were counting like we used to do for tag, today we would have reached that milestone: two one thousand -- shows, that is. When we began producing Recess! seven years ago, we didn't know if we would still be around to jump for joy at crossing a magic line like this. The worlds of radio and childhood can both be particularly ephemeral, and the sounds of each can disappear like a morning mist when the sun finally gets up. But we knew from the beginning that we wanted to do something to remember and to celebrate the diverse, unique, and eternal qualities of childhood, no matter how long those sounds might linger in the air.

Our very first program was about the earliest school books that were given to children in Ancient China to teach them lessons of pious respect for their parents. That same month we covered the arrival of the third of the Harry Potter books in America, as J. K. Rowling was well on her way to becoming one of the wealthiest and, arguably, one of the most influential women in the world. Over these seven years, we've looked at the origins of yo-yos, marbles, and the game of tag. We've traced the lives of mythic figures of childhood: Johnny Appleseed, St. Nicholas, Dr. Seuss. We've listened to the music of child geniuses like Mozart and Thomas Wiggins, the African-American pianist who was the most popular performer in 19th century America. We've located the starting points of Peter Rabbit, the Barbie Doll, Monopoly, Valentine's cards, Halloween, the Simpsons, and Maurice Sendak's Wild Things. We've explored the domains of lullabies, counting out rhymes, penny candy, and video games. We've listened to the miraculous stories of Barry Stewart Mann. And with Shelley Fraser Mickle, we've gone back to Arkansas in the 1950s, for unforgettable commentaries about Rascal Soup, Aunt Filene, and laconic boy poets.

Childhood itself, we know, will be here seven years from now -- or seven hundred. That means we'll have plenty more stories to tell -- another two thousand at least. Meanwhile, we'll continue to thank you, deeply, for listening and hope you'll keep visiting our audio playground and sending us your ideas and questions and comments. The French philosopher-poet Gaston Bachelard once said that the things we love as adults, we learn to love in childhood. So always remember to keep the things of childhood close, like old friends or new discoveries, like the smell of the Hundred Acre Wood, or that first astonishing taste of ice cream.

Copyright 2007 John Cech

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Sunday, 01-Apr-2007 00:37:41 EDT


"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."