My boys, ages 23 and 21, are both adults and on their own. When they were little, they both watched “Blue’s Clues.”
It was a show that had lots of elements that appealed to preschoolers. Blue, a big dog, went about each episode looking for clues about something that would teach a lesson. Familiar songs and bits were done each day, knowing how important repetition was to young folks.
Our oldest son was an especially big fan. He had the “handy dandy notebook” to write in when Steve, the show’s host, wrote down clues. He had an inflatable version of the “thinking chair.” He knew all the songs and would sing them at the top of his lungs, standing up and dancing a jig when the “mail song” came on.
Sing it with me now: “Here’s the mail, it never fails, it makes me wanna wag my tail, when it comes I want to wail, MAIL!”
I have only to pause for a moment and that show comes back to me. I remember the big face that took up the entire television screen. I remember all the songs, the special guests, and the way Steve the host always wore that striped green shirt with khaki pants. The sameness of the show each day was comforting to kids. There was a huge fan base, I’m sure.
The show really harkened back to the days of early kids’ shows, where there was a host who talked to a character who could not really speak. Blue was a big, blue, computer animated dog who just made noises. Back in the day, she would have probably been a puppet. I’m sure she would have been just as popular.
When the boys were small, “Blues Clues” was appointment television. By the time my kids came along, childrens shows had more than one showing. Therefore, if you missed “Clues” in the morning, you could always catch it later in the day.
At our house, especially in the summer when I was home, we scheduled our day around “Blues Clues.” This was a good time to catch up on something, as the boys would be mesmerized and glued to the TV set.
One could fold laundry, wash dishes, or whatever. Still, many times, Michelle and I would wind up watching along with them, just taking a breather. I always remember how the boys seemed to love it when we watched along with them, laughing or reacting to what was happening on the screen.
At a point when the show was wildly popular in the ratings, the show’s host, Steve, decided to go away to college. His departure was written into the show and he introduced his brother Joe before leaving. After Steve got on the cartoon bus and left, Joe took over as Blue’s caretaker and host of the show.
I remember it being a big deal, but the boys were on the edge of becoming interested in shows suited for older kids. The era of “Blue’s Clues” was pretty much over for us when Steve left.
My oldest son, as I said, the biggest fan, is now adulting and has a job in which he travels some. The other day, he sent a text from the Phoenix airport along with a video made in 2021 by none other than Steve Burns, original host of “Blue’s Clues.”
Steve is now much older, wears glasses and a ball cap. During the short video, he wears his familiar green shirt and stands in front of a background that looks just like the old show.
With the same calm voice and mannerisms, Steve addresses the audience in this video; an audience no longer made up of 3-4 years old, but grown-ups with student loans and young families. He talks about how he left the show rather abruptly and how he realizes it may have been sort of a shock for kids. He tells about college and things he learned in the many years since he left the show.
Then, near the end, Steve looks into the camera and says in a very heartfelt tone: “I want you to know that I never forgot about you.”
You may guess, my son cried a little. So did I.
At the very end, Steve walks out of camera range, but then sticks his head back in, much as he did long ago. “By the way, I have to tell you, you look great!” So, we have something to smile at as we wipe away those couple of tears.
I am pretty sure I had the same reaction to some of Fred Rogers’ video messages after he stopped making his neighborhood shows. Man, that guy was important to kids my age back in the day, so any time we saw him, he made us cry a little.
When we are visited by people from our past, we are reminded of a time that has also passed. We remember different lifetimes and wonderful memories. We visit and remember for a while, but then realize that we can’t stay there.
And shoot, that makes us tear up a little, doesn’t it?