Artwork by Bill Pierce

When TIME set out to tackle the debate over children’s TV in late 1970, a year after Sesame Street premiered, correspondent Mary Cronin was sent to interview one of the show’s puppeteers—and ended up posing her questions directly to Oscar the Grouch instead. The story sent the message to TIME’s grownup readers that Sesame was a cultural phenomenon, and that its medium could serve a higher purpose than just entertainment. The past half-century has borne out that verdict, as well as the wisdom of the editors’ choice of cover subject: Big Bird. Here, in the tradition of Cronin’s work, TIME asked Big Bird to weigh in, as only he could, on the enduring power of his home—and how to celebrate a centennial. —Lily Rothman

Buy a print of the Sesame Street – 1970 cover here

Read the Original Story From 1970: Who’s Afraid of Big, Bad TV?

Sesame Street seems like a special place.

All my friends live there. We have a lot of fun. We play all kinds of games, and we learn a lot together.

What can kids learn from seeing what life is like there?

I’ve learned everything I know on Sesame Street! I guess I’d say that it’s a place where everyone is included and everyone is kind to one another. And if you’re ever having a bad day or a tough time, there is always a friend nearby to help you feel better.

What about grownups? What can they learn?

Sometimes when new neighbors move in or people come to visit, I hear them say that they’ve never lived in a place that is so kind and welcoming. And I agree! Well, I’ve never actually lived anywhere else, but I guess that’s what grownups could learn—to be super welcoming.

You must meet people everywhere you go who are interested in what goes on on Sesame Street. Why do you think that is?

It’s true! Everywhere I go, people have heard of Sesame Street! I’m not sure why. I guess maybe it’s a little unusual to have birds, monsters, fairies, grouches, snuffleupaguses, and humans all living in the same neighborhood, learning and having fun together. Do you have that in your neighborhood?

I wish! Anything new happen lately on Sesame Street?

Well, in the last couple of years, we’ve had some terrific new neighbors move in, like my friend Ji-Young … and we’ve started some new traditions, like Neighbor Day. The whole neighborhood comes! Everyone is invited, people share foods they love making with their families, and there’s music too.

TIME is turning 100 this year. How should we celebrate?

That’s a big number! You’re going to need a REALLY big cake for all of those candles. Maybe you could invite all your friends to come share.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at