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|Written by||Ruthanna Long|
Tales of Sesame Gulch is a 1977 Sesame Street storybook, collecting stories and ballads of the Old West featuring the Sesame gang, set in Sesame Gulch. The book stars familiar characters from the Old West sketches, such as Marshal Grover (spelled "Marshall" throughout) and Fred the Wonder Horse, Rodeo Rosie, and the usual Anything Muppet townsfolk who misinterpret rumors (plus a cameo by The Great Cookie Thief on a wanted poster).
However, the book also transplants many of the Street characters who weren't used in such skits, and even some of the human cast (namely Mr. Hooper and Luis), from their typical urban setting. Thus Oscar the Grouch resides in a wooden rain barrel, townsfolk gather at Hooper's General Store, and Count von Count runs the telegraph office (giving him the chance to count all the words in each message).
Stories include the following:
- "The Day Herry Monster Held Up the Stage": Reflecting the typical plot of a Sesame Street Old Western sketch, rumors fly that Herry Monster is back in town and will hold up the Wells Fargo stagecoach with the Jinx Gang. This is the day Sheriff Bert's pet pigeons are being delivered, too! The sheriff and his sidekick Fearless Ernie form a posse, but then a stampeding cattle drive seems likely to run into the stage (although it gives the Count a chance to enumerate cows). However, Herry Monster saves the day in an unexpected manner (reminding all that there is more than one way to hold up a stage).
- "The Ballad of Rodeo Rosie": Ernie, Bert and Big Bird sing the song of Rodeo Rosie as they sit around a campfire. According to the song, the star of the rodeo is always nice, always on the right side of the law, and always polite. Big Bird has trouble filling in the last line of each stanza with an appropriate rhyme (until corrected by Bert).
- "Bonanza!" (no relation): The rumor mill is grinding again, when Cookie Monster walks down the main street with mysterious brown sacks yelling "Bonanza!" (or is it "bananas"?) Gold fever hits the town, but naturally, Cookie's bonanza contains something more valuable (and delicious) to him.
- "Marshall Grover Meets the (Gulp) Noon Train": A telegram arrives for Marshal Grover, saying to "Meet the noon train - or else!" and signed by someone whose name begins with M. In a situation reminiscent of the classic film High Noon, a worried Grover cannot get any of the townsfolk to go with him to the station. Grover ultimately goes alone to meet the mysterious M... but to his joy and relief, he's reminded that M also stands for Mommy.
- "Prairie Dawn of the Pony Express": The gallant Prairie Dawn is delivering mail when she's ambushed by Wild Willie Wailey and his gang. The gang kidnaps her and steals the mail, in revenge for never getting any letters. Prairie Dawn turns on her kidnappers, telling them that if they want to get letters, then they need to write letters first. She gives them all pencils and writing paper, and they get to work on their letters as she rides away.
- Ernie, Bert, Grover (as Marshal Grover), Fred the Wonder Horse, Rodeo Rosie, Herry Monster, Cookie Monster, Prairie Dawn, Count von Count, Oscar the Grouch, Grover's Mom, Mr. Hooper, Luis, Roosevelt Franklin, Roosevelt Franklin's Mother, Granny Fanny Nesselrode, Silver, The Alphabet Kid, Wild Willie Wailey, the Jinx Gang