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Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck: Luis And Maria On “Sesame Street”

Marty McFly and Doc Brown had the Delorean to go travel through time; We have the Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck. Every week, we’ll hop in our time traveling machine, gun it to 88 MPH, and go back in time to bring you the best from the good ol’ days. Will it be a clip from an old telenovela? An old school music video? Stick around and find out!

By Jack Tomas

There is no greater children’s television show than “Sesame Street”. That is a fact. How many of us learned to read with the help of Cookie Monster and Grover? Though not as good as it used to be, (too much Elmo not enough Oscar the Grouch), it’s still the best thing for kids on TV. When Joan Ganz Cooney created “Sesame Street” in 1969, she wanted to create a show that was inclusive of everyone. The setting was a lower-income neighborhood in New York where Whites, Blacks, and Latinos lived happily with giant mentally challenged yellow birds and “confirmed bachelors” Ernie and Bert. Our favorite human characters were Luis and Maria, Sesame Street’s resident Latino couple.

It’s a sweet gig, if you can get it. Sonia Manzano and Emilio Delgado have both been part of the “Sesame Street” cast for nearly 40 years! Emilio joined up in 1971 playing Luis, the owner of Sesame Street’s fix-it shop. Luis is a Mexican-American handyman who is often called upon to repair the damage caused by Muppet wackiness. Sonia joined the cast as Maria in 1974 when she was still just a teenager. Maria is constantly the arbiter of arguments between different characters. If a heated debate about “around” and “over” comes up, Maria will be there to moderate. Maria worked as Luis’ assistant throughout the 70’s and the characters started dating in the early 80’s. Their 1988 wedding is still the highest rated episode in Sesame Street history. In 1989, Maria became pregnant with their daughter Gabi, a storyline they created to teach kids about pregnancy.

Luis and Maria have also taught generations of non-Latinos a little bit about our culture. In the 1980’s, Luis and Maria took the Sesame Street gang on a visit to Puerto Rico. They also often teach simple phrases in Spanish or about Latin food. The beauty of Luis and Maria is that they are a couple of smart, hard-working Latinos that enjoy learning. Just because you are poor doesn’t mean you have to be ignorant. When my grandmother was going to take her citizenship test, a friend told her that she could improve her English by watching “Sesame Street”. My abuela and I watched it together, both of us learning from Luis and Maria. And Cookie monster, of course.

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