Waffles and Puppets and Nate

This weekend was the annual Waffles and Puppets event at Brewery Ommegang. This year Rotary partnered up with them for our (I’m the Rotary Club President this year) annual fundraiser. Nate was willing to head over there for a couple of hours on Saturday. Too old for puppets, he told me, but not for Belgian French fries and waffles. As usual, Nate was only in it for the food.

Rotary is constantly in the midst of a literacy drive and there were tables full of kids’ books. Some were pretty old – novelizations centered on The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch and even Rhoda! Nate loves children’s books. He always gravitates to them at the library or garage sales. They connect him to a period in time when books were his world, his only vehicle for language. He could read and he could recite, giving him a verbal outlet that, left to his own limited abilities back then, he was incapable of coming out with independently.

The table was manned by students from SUNY-Oneonta. Nate was certainly older than anyone minding the store. They watched as he combed through the paperbacks, telling me about titles he remembered, or books he used to have. He stumbled upon the Teletubbies.

“The Teletubbies were replaced by Yo Gabba Gabba,” he told me. Teletubbies I know, Yo Gabba Gabba I’ve only heard of, but to Nate they are connected on a continuum, though the former was on PBS and the latter on Nick, Jr.

yo gabba

Clearly, this was an insight of sorts, or at least a theory that one of the collegians had never thought of. “Whoa, I never thought of that before,” he commented on, but not to, Nate. “That just blew my mind,” he told the person sitting next to him.

Nate is so encyclopedic on pop culture (at least, cartoons and some movies) that they all form a unified world in his mind, perhaps one even more real than the one he actually lives in. It works for him, and, it seems, sheds some light for others wondering about the linkages between really odd kiddie programs.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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