AS a young boy growing up in the 1980's, I absolutely loved watching Sesame Street. One of my favourite pastimes was running home from school in time to catch my favourite programme, back in the glory days of ZNS and analog television, when TV would sign on at exactly 4pm. Sesame Street is undoubtedly one of the greatest, if not, the greatest children's educational programmes in the history of television. For almost fifty years, this staple of PBS have taught generations of children, myself included, basic fundamentals of learning to help them succeed in life, as well as provide good laughs. Sesame Street taught a young me many things that have stuck with me to this day. Besides the usual ABC's and 123's and how to recognise shapes and colours, I also learned many important life lessons: sharing and being kind to others. Why you shouldn't waste water. Look both ways before crossing the street, and only with trusted people from your family. Wash your hands before you eat, and always cover your mouth and nose when you cough and sneeze to avoid spreading germs. Sesame Street was extremely creative in the way it got its message across to its young audience, usually with animation, beautiful and memorable songs (that many of us who grew up watching still sing to this day, admit it), and with humorous skits with its world famous Muppets. Who can forget Kermit the Frog and his often hilarious "lessons", which were almost always interrupted by either Cookie Monster or Grover?
One particular Muppet skit that I now find myself remembering was one about littering. Set in the Old Wild West in the days of cowboys and Indians, the skit, titled "Dirty Gulch", serves as a cautionary tale. It starts with an old, bearded cowpoke sitting on the steps of the General Store, observing the residents of Dirty Gulch as they go about their day. As they do, they throw all of their trash on the ground, without a care in the world. Disgusted, the old cowpoke shakes his head, then begins to sing:
"There used to be an old town out on the Western Plains...
They called it "Dirty Gulch! And this how it got its name..."
Eventually,the town became so dirty that the townspeople couldn't help but notice. They decried that it was "the yuckiest place that I have ever seen!" Yet despite this, they continued to litter and dump without a care. Finally, a heroic sheriff, named McClean (pun obviously intended) arrived, riding on a cow (because Sesame Street), and began cleaning up the filthy town – whilst encouraging the townspeople to do the same, and to keep it clean. Soon, Dirty Gulch had to change its name.
Flash forward to 2017, and the fictional, Old West town of Dirty Gulch has, sadly, become reality. Nassau has become "The Dirtiest Town In The West." That's putting it mildly. Nassau, and nearly all of New Providence, is filthy. Like the residents of Dirty Gulch, Nassauvians throw their garbage anywhere and everywhere except in garbage bins. They toss their trash out of car windows. They dump rubbish in any open space. Not even the beaches are safe. Much like the people of Dirty Gulch, Nassauvians complain about the trash and dirt, but do next to nothing about it. Dirty Gulch's problem was solved by a bovine riding crusader who not only rolled up his sleeves and got to cleaning, but encouraged the residents to do their part as well. Sadly, there are no Sheriff McCleans coming to save this modern day Dirty Gulch called Nassau. We must each decide to become our own McCleans, rather than relying on outsiders to do it for us. Until we break free of our apathy, Nassau will remain "The Dirtiest Town In The West".
September 14, 2017.