People News

April 11, 1984 1 min read

Producers of the children’s television show “Sesame Street” have agreed to stop using a song about monsters following a Madison, Wis., parent’s complaint that four lines in the song could be misinterpreted to encourage child molestation.

Martha A. Deming wrote to the Children’s Television Workshop about “I Want a Monster To Be My Friend” after she heard the song performed at a “Sesame Street” road show in Madison last year. The song includes the lines: “If I make friends with a friendly monster/I’ll let him bounce me on his knee/I’ll let him do whatever he wants/Especially if he’s bigger than me.”

“I couldn’t quite believe my ears when I heard the words being sung,” said Ms. Deming, who is the mother of two preschool children. “The words were pretty inappropriate,” she said, adding that she feared children might interpret the lines to mean they could let people bigger than they touch them. After discussing the song with a Madison police officer who gives child-safety talks, Ms. Deming wrote to Edward L. Palmer, vice president of ctw Following a review of the song, Mr. Palmer told Ms. Deming that al3though “the interpretation I gave them was never their intention,” the show’s producers would remove the song from their television and road-show repertoire, Ms. Deming said.

John P. Wilcox, a 63-year-old Philadelphia postal clerk, last week presented a check for $40,000 to Memphis State University to provide needy college students with the education he never received.

Mr. Wilcox grew up in Heth, Ark., and is the son of a sharecropper. He attended a one-room school but left after the 8th grade to go to work.

According to Deborah Baker, Memphis State University’s media-relations director, Mr. Wilcox has relatives in Memphis, but “did not have any affiliation with the university” at the time he decided to donate money to the school. “He had visited [the university],” she said, “heard good things about it, and liked what he saw.” The John P. Wilcox Scholarship Fund will provide four full-tuition scholarships, two for women and two for men, beginning in the fall of 1984. Students with financial need and good academic records are eligible for the awards.

Mr. Wilcox, who has worked as a postal clerk for 24 years, makes $25,000 a year. In 1978 he gave $35,000 to Temple University in Philadelphia to be used for athletic scholarships.

A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 1984 edition of Education Week as People News