Christine Caccipuoti is a historian, writer, and co-producer of the long-running podcast Footnoting History, where she regularly shares her love of biography.
Christine proudly co-edited Independent Scholars Meet the World: Expanding Academia beyond the Academy (University Press of Kansas, 2020) and has published / is soon publishing pieces about Blanche Barrow, Jane Manning James, and Elton John.
In addition to dealing with all things historical, Christine likes to spend her time rewatching her favorite television shows and films, learning about elephants, tweeting about musical theater, and planning vacations she may or may not eventually take.
Childhood joys never leave us. This week, we delve into all things Winnie-the-Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood with podcaster and historian Christine Caccipuoti as our guide. Christine’s loved all things Pooh for her entire life. With a mother and grandmother who loved Winnie-the-Pooh, these stories and characters were her destiny.
As the Co-producer and Co-Host of the incredible Footnoting History podcast, Christine not only delves into why she loves Pooh but also the history of the Milne family, the importance of maintaining the magic we find in childhood wonder as we age, and what may be ahead for Pooh as he and his friends begin to enter the public domain.
At the end of the podcast, I share the final passage of The House at Pooh Corner and how you can see the original Pooh stuff animals on display at the New York Public Library (and online) as part of a fantastic free exhibition going on right now.
Topics discussed in this episode:
– Christine’s podcast, Footnoting History
– Christine’s Winnie-the-Pooh episode on Footnoting History
– How Christine got interested in Winnie-the-Pooh
– How her views on the different characters in the Hundred Acre Wood have changed over the years
– The importance of maintaining childhood wonder as an adult and why having things that bring you joy in your life are so important
– The differences and similarities between the A.A. Milne stories and the Disney Pooh stories
– How and why we gravitate to certain stories and certain characters within stories
– Why so many people relate to Eeyore and how compassion is a major theme in the Hundred Acre Wood
– The history of the Milne family and how Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends came to be
– How the Pooh stories are similar to other childhood favorites such as Sesame Street, the Muppet Show, and Charlie Brown
– The messages that Milne communicated to all of us about life and friendship through Winnie-the-Pooh
– What it means for Pooh to now (sort of) be in the public domain
– What might be next for Pooh and Friends in the years ahead
– How to see the original Pooh stuffed animals in New York City
Links to resources:
– Christine’s personal website / blog – http://www.ChristineCaccipuoti.com
– Christine on Twitter – @mynameispurpose
– Christine on Instagram – @mynameispurpose
– Footnoting History (FH) Website http://www.FootnotingHistory.com
– Christine’s FH episode about Pooh – https://www.footnotinghistory.com/home/winnie-the-pooh
– FH YouTube Channel – http://www.YouTube.com/FootnotingHistory
– FH Twitter – @historyfootnote
– Christa on Twitter – @christanyc
– Christa on Instagram – @christarosenyc
– Christa on Facebook – @AuthorChrista
– Christa on Medium – @christaavampato
– Christa on TikTok – @christanyc
– Christa’s website – ChristaAvampato.com
– Polonsky Exhibition of the New York Public Library’s Treasures – https://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/treasures
– Winnie-the-Pooh and Friends stuffed animals at the New York Public Library – https://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/galleries/childhood/item/4108
– The last passage of The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne – https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/808360-then-suddenly-again-christopher-robin-who-was-still-looking-at
– The Winnie-the-Pooh Show Christine saw in New York is on tour throughout the U.S. – https://winniethepoohshow.com/
christopher robin, winnie, acre wood, characters, people, poo, pooh, stories, episode, world, piglet, joy, book, tigger, christa, disney, love, thinking, christine, kanga
Christa Avampato 00:00
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the JoyProject podcast. My name is Christa Avampato and I’m your host, and we are joined by Christine Caccipuoti today. Christine, welcome to JoyProject.
Christine Caccipuoti 00:09
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be able to talk about happy things.
Christa Avampato 00:13
Yes, I’m excited to talk about happy things, too. And all things joyful. And Christine, you have one of my favorite podcasts that I listen to all the time. I think I’ve listened to almost every episode, maybe there’s one or two that I might have missed. But I’m a longtime listener of Footnoting History. The best history is always in the footnotes.
Christine Caccipuoti 00:38
That makes me so happy. Now I’m filled with joy.
Christa Avampato 00:41
That is my goal. Can you tell us a little bit about Footnoting History before we get into what brings you joy?
Christine Caccipuoti 00:48
Sure. So Footnoting History was started in 2013. So we are in our 10th year now, which blows my mind when I think about it. We’re a rotating group of historians who find cool things when we research and then we share them with the people. Our goal is to be somewhat succinct. The idea is for a commute length, even though less people are commuting now. We want you to not have to feel like you have to give hours of your day to one of our episodes. But you can still learn something really cool about maybe something you never thought about before, or something you may have heard of before but in a different way, or maybe an angle that you never heard of. So that’s kind of where we are. We kind of just cycled through. There’s five of us. So one of the five will be who you hear each time.
Christa Avampato 01:36
Has it always been the five of you or have some people come and gone in that 10 years?
Christine Caccipuoti 01:41
We’ve had quite a few people come and go. If you go back from the like full length, myself and our host, Lucy, are the two who have been there the whole time. Our hosts Samantha left for a bit. She was with us from the beginning. And she left to finish her PhD. And now she’s back. Kristin and Josh, they joined us later on and have been with us for several years now. We kind of let people come and go if they need to. But if they have something they want to offer, they’re usually welcomed back.
Christa Avampato 02:10
It’s one of the things that inspired me on this podcast was keeping the conversations to a manageable amount. I love longer podcasts, too. But I find that when I have to pause and come back, I’ve forgotten what happened in the first part, or I don’t have an hour or an hour and a half to listen to an episode. I liked that yours are about 20ish minutes.
Christine Caccipuoti 02:30
We figure it’s better to have somebody be able to listen to more than one episode at a time than that they can’t finish the whole topic. Sometimes we’ll have a two-parter, but each one is usually able to stand on its own. I do also like long podcasts too. But some of them I listen to they’re really long and it takes me three walks to get through it.
Christa Avampato 02:49
And as a total history nerd and a public historian and tour guide, I love all of the topics. Some of the research I do for my own writing is based on your podcast!
Christine Caccipuoti 03:00
Oh that’s amazing. That’s awesome. I’m gonna go tell my hosts. They’ll be so excited. That’s why I like that we have multiple hosts because each person can do what they like to do. I may not know anything about the topic that Josh is covering. And he may not know anything about the topic that Lucy is covering. But our listeners get to benefit of what we all like. We learn from each other and our audience gets to learn from five different people right now. So that’s kind of cool. Hopefully it covers a lot of bases.
Christa Avampato 03:27
Your podcast brings me a ton of joy. Which brings me to the topic at hand. Christine, tell me what brings you joy.
Christine Caccipuoti 03:34
A lot of things bring me joy, which is crazy, because I’m really a pessimist.
Christa Avampato 03:39
The joyful pessimist!
Christine Caccipuoti 03:40
That’s it. I’m the type of person who like, oh, it’s gonna rain. That’s probably why I have so many things that I love to counter it.
Christa Avampato 03:48
It’s all about balance.
Christine Caccipuoti 03:49
Exactly. So when you were talking to me about being on this podcast, I was so ready to talk about Winnie-the-Pooh. I’ve loved him for forever. And when I say Winnie-the-Pooh, I mean all the characters not just Pooh. I mean the whole Hundred Acre Wood world. And so I was really stoked, because I think keeping a love that you’ve had from childhood alive can be a really buoying thing when times get tough. I have no problem telling people I am in my late 30s and I still love things from childhood. Because why should I give up the things that always made me happy because I happen to get older?
Christa Avampato 04:25
I originally asked you to come on the podcast after I heard your Winnie-the-Pooh episode. I grew up in the woods. And so I was always thinking, are they around the corner? Is this actually the life that they have? And we just don’t know that it’s happening. And I wanted to think of myself as a little Christopher Robin.
Christine Caccipuoti 04:44
We can all be Christopher Robin. That’s the wonderful thing about him. I mean, yes, of course there was a real Christopher Robin.
Christa Avampato 04:51
And I was wondering if you could talk about the things that brought you joy when you were a kid learning about the Pooh stories and the Hundred Acre Wood. And has that changed? What have you grown to appreciate even more? What did you learn from Winnie-the-Pooh? I just I want to hear you just gush about everything Pooh.
Christine Caccipuoti 05:08
It has changed. These are all things I’ve been thinking about recently, especially when I was writing that episode because it was one of those things where I was writing about the history of Winnie-the-Pooh and it made me really think about my own relationship with Pooh. Which was something that was always there because my mother was into Winnie-the-Pooh. And when she was pregnant with me, she was totally happy to give you a Winnie-the-Pooh when you’re born. Winnie-the-Pooh themed stuff was always around. So I can’t actually point to a time where I discovered Winnie-the-Pooh. It was just always there.
There’s a family story that my mom tells me that one of my aunts when she was pregnant with me was like, “You’re not going to do Winnie-the-Pooh stuff for her are you because I don’t like Winnie-the-Pooh. And my mom was like, “I love Winnie-the-Pooh. She’s getting it. That’s what’s happening. My kids gonna have Winnie-the-Pooh around so you better get used to it.”
The original Pooh was kind of naked. He’s adorable. Shepherd’s artwork is very different from the Winnie-the-Pooh that became Disney but still recognizable. I was born the 80s so Disney Pooh was the main Pooh around at the time. My first introduction to Pooh was the Disney Pooh with the red shirt. All these animated productions that were coming out and that I was obsessed with. And it actually got to the point where when I was writing the episode, and I was rereading the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories, I was saying to myself, did I actually read these original books when I was younger? Or do I just know the stories because they’ve been adapted so many times? Do I know the story about the rain and Piglet because I watched the Disney stuff where they showed it or because I read the book. Because I’ve been doing Pooh stuff and loving him for so long. My timeline is mushy, but I have definitely changed what characters I identify with from that world. I’ve never been a Tigger fan.
Christa Avampato 07:01
Tell me why no Tigger.
Christine Caccipuoti 07:02
He’s always been too much for me because he’s so hyper. I love him in a different way. My appreciation for Tigger comes from that he was my grandmother’s favorite character. I have certain Tigger items because they make me think of her. He was never one that I gravitated towards. For myself.
Christa Avampato 07:26
Did you have another character that you really identified with as a child?
Christine Caccipuoti 07:29
It was definitely Pooh himself. Like, there’s no question. He was my favorite. He’s still my number one boy because of that nostalgia factor. So I love him as I aged. And I know you know this because you and I follow each other on Twitter so you’ve seen it. I have my Piglet appreciation post pictures of my Piglet stuffed animal all the time. And that was because as I got older, I started to realize that I identify with how anxious he is. He’s my anxiety buddy. We get each other and I actually found I appreciate both Piglet and Eeyore more in the original art than I do in the Disney art. I like the Disney art because that’s what I have known and when they do the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down—that’s my favorite Disney story of all time. Piglet getting caught in the rain and having to get rescued but he himself was not my favorite character until I started to go back and do the deep dive into the original stuff. And I like the drawings by Shepard. They’re just so beautiful. They’re so gorgeous. There’s pictures of Piglet running to carry Eeyore a balloon. I just want to pick them up and hug them.
Christa Avampato 08:50
One of the things that I do love about the Hundred Acre Wood and Winnie-the-Pooh is that it is a very rich world. Really all these characters have a very specific personality. They all have their quirks. They all have things that they really love. They have things that they’re afraid of. They have a general personality. Owl is always very studious. Rabbit’s always a little bit. Eeyore’s always a little bit sad. Pooh is the jubilant one who really symbolizes joy for me. He gets joy out of everything. And there’s this one quote from Winnie-the-Pooh that every time I think about Winnie-the-Pooh it’s this quote I think of. Anytime I know somebody who’s lost someone close to them, there’s this old drawing of Shepherd’s and it’s Pooh walking with Piglet, and it says how lucky I am to have loved something that I will miss so much. Those types of learnings. We hear those things as children and as we grow up, at least for me, like those are the things that stay with me. Are there other passages that for you are so Pooh? They get right to what the story is about.
Christine Caccipuoti 10:03
The House at Pooh Corner, the last Pooh book. I cannot read that without bawling. Well, one of the things that speaks to Milne’s writing is that it’s a children’s book, essentially. But it doesn’t just keep everything happy, get to the end of the last one, spoiler alert for anybody who hasn’t read a book from the 1920s. Sorry! They’re all starting to get aware that Christopher Robin might not be coming back as much anymore. And to me, I’m gonna get upset talking about it, my heart just starts to break. I don’t like the idea of having to give up something that you love, because you’re getting older. They all meet with him and they read him a little letter or poem. And then they all kind of fade away. And it’s just him and Pooh, Christopher Robin and Pooh. And he’s trying to kind of tell Pooh that he might not be there all the time anymore, and Pooh’s kind of getting it but kind of not while having this exchange.
And I’m just thinking, I probably am largely the way I am now as an adult, because I could not have that conversation. I ugly cry, because he says the adults won’t let him keep coming here anymore. Because I have to start going back to school. He’s implying that he has to grow up and start doing more big boy things. It hits me so hard.
I’m always very thankful that at the end, Milne doesn’t really say, Oh, they don’t exist anymore. Like it’s done. He says that they’re still playing in the Enchanted Places together, which to me was important. I don’t think we should ever have to give up magic. I don’t. I feel like there’s so many things in this world that are so terrible. I love stuffed animals. I was never a doll kid. I still have almost all the stuffed animals I’ve ever had. I still have them that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing heavy history work or dealing with personal crises. All it means that these are things that prevent anything from ever getting to that really bad place.
There’s that movie about Christopher Robin that came out a couple of years ago. And I know it was a controversial movie in the sense that some people were like, well, that wouldn’t have happened. That wasn’t the point. The point was that he’s moved on. And the real Christopher Robin did move on. He let the stuffed animals leave. And that wasn’t his life because he wasn’t a fictional character. He was a real man. So it wasn’t true to Christopher Robin in the real sense of who he, the actual Christopher Robin person was.
It was important to see an example of why you don’t really have to give these things up. You know, it doesn’t have to be Winnie-the-Pooh. I don’t really care what it is. It’s whatever the thing is that brought you joy. Legos or Batman. It doesn’t matter. I just find things that make you happy are so important. Because I associate them with positivity from when I was younger.
And last summer, we went to Disney World. There was a villains Night event, Halloween night. Everybody was in costumes. And I literally went in with my poor family and said I am not leaving until I see the Pooh characters. And it was just this ability to kind of shut the world out for a few minutes and just see something that’s completely wholesome, completely joyous.
Christa Avampato 13:05
Right now we’re living through a horrific period of our history. It’s frightening. And I do find that the things that I loved in childhood that brought me comfort that brought me joy, they still have an important place as an adult. There’s a place for all of it when you’re looking at what what’s my purpose, and what should I do with my life? And what kind of career should I pursue? There are lots of people who say, well think about what your eight year old self really loved, what they gravitated to when they were young, just loving things for the pure joy of loving them.
Christine Caccipuoti 13:39
And I guess that’s part of the fight, isn’t it? Like people are starting to tell you or you start to feel some sort of pressure that you can’t have that pure joy anymore, because other things are more important.
Like I had somebody say to me once Oh, it must be nice to have the kind of time to watch the Winnie-the-Pooh movie. And I didn’t get upset by it for me. I got upset by it for them. Because I was thinking, Well, what do you do to just turn your brain off and have a nice time? What is that thing for you? Because if you’re talking to me about how it’s a bad thing that I’m doing, then I don’t really get it because that’s what keeps me able to face everything. I need that few minutes. You know, to just hang out, watch the movie or go to the show that I went to in the fall.
Sometimes it influences other aspects of my life. Like I wouldn’t probably have done a Winnie-the-Pooh episode if I hadn’t gone to the theater and to see the Winnie-the-Pooh show. I thought wow, I’ve never done this before for an episode. That is one of the benefits of the podcast is I can pick whatever I’m enthusiastic to talk about and do it. Which is why Winnie-the-Pooh was something I was able to put in there because it’s like, I love this and I’m in charge of the content so I can do whatever I want. And it was the most joyous episode to research of all the ones that I’ve ever done
Christa Avampato 14:56
In order to keep fighting the good fight and we’re fighting on many fronts, we do also have to nourish ourselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to really boost yourself up. And I think that it actually has to be a daily practice.
Christine Caccipuoti 15:13
Yes! I do a lot of dark history. So being able to talk about, oh my gosh, did you know that you can still go visit the actual Winnie-the-Pooh plushies in New York City? It was a great thing to be able to talk about for people. The world has been pretty dark these past couple of years. And this is something that might make somebody a little happier by hearing it. When I was polling people. In my episode, I talked about asking people to tell me what their favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character is and people did start to tell me. Far and away, the biggest answer I got was Eeyore.
Christa Avampato 15:44
Do you think that’s influenced by the times that we’re living in? Like, are people feeling that oh, that’s me. I see myself in him.
Christine Caccipuoti 15:51
It was probably like seven to one. Everybody was into Eeyore. A lot of people have said to me, they’ve always loved him. They loved him, because they understood him in some way. Well, that says a lot about the character of Eeyore and how influential he can be and how important he is. It’s significant that he’s still embraced and loved by everybody in his friend circle in the Hundred Acre Wood. Even when he’s down, he’s not ostracized, and I was just like, Oh, I knew several people who liked Eeyore and I like him too. But I was surprised by how many people were 1,000% Eeyore’s my favorite.
Christa Avampato 16:26
He’s a character that does not hide his feelings. He’s not trying to pretend that he’s something that he’s not. He really puts himself out there. I love what you just said about acceptance in the Hundred Acre Wood. They make space for everybody and what they’re going through. Pooh’s like, “Okay, well, is it okay if I just like sit here with you? I’ll just sit here. I’ll just be present.”
Christine Caccipuoti 16:48
They always include him. They recognize his birthday, nobody’s ever recognized his birthday, or they build him a new house, but they mess it up. Because they don’t realize they’re using the sticks from his old house. It’s, it’s still very sort of whimsical, but they never just push him aside because he’s not the happy one. That’s important. Maybe that is why he resonates with people so much, because he touches that side that most people don’t really get to show.
Christa Avampato 17:15
We’re always trying to put on a brave face. Eeyore’s like “Nah. I’m gonna let it all hang. I’m just gonna be who I am and that’s not always happy.” I think very often he expects the other characters to walk away. I don’t think he expects anybody to stay. And then they do an it’s like this light bulb moment. Wait, you’re just gonna sit here with me? Even though I may not be the most pleasant character to be around right now. You’re gonna stay? You’re not going to abandon mw when the chips are down?
Christine Caccipuoti 17:45
What makes a character that resonates with people? Because as a little kid, I can’t say that I was like Winnie-the-Pooh. I was probably really identifying with Christopher Robin and didn’t realize it. I loved my stuffed animals so much like he was with his bear. And so therefore he was my bear by extension. I’d also like to give a shout out to Kanga who was so underrated as the only girl.
Christa Avampato 18:10
Totally underrated. The only woman holding her own in that Hundred Acre Wood and has a baby. I watched the movie Being Christopher Robin. I thought it was very interesting. I did not know a lot of that backstory. I wonder if there is also anything about Milne and his own perspective of why he created the story, how he came up with these characters. Charlie Brown was a big one for me, too, when I was a kid. And when I went to Santa Rosa, California, I went to the Charles Schultz house. He finished the last cartoon the day before he dies. His studio is preserved exactly the way that it was.
Christine Caccipuoti 18:45
That’s so cool that they’re able to do that, right? Because it never happens.
Christa Avampato 18:49
Yes. Which is just so wild. And that he worked up until last day on this—his life’s work. And what’s so interesting about that is that you could really learn what was he thinking about. What did he think about these characters? Why did he create them? And people said to him, so I guess you’re Charlie Brown and these are all your friends? And he said Oh, no. I’m actually all of them. They all are part of me. Is there any source from Milne about why he created the Hundred Acre Wood, how he came up with the characters?
Christine Caccipuoti 19:22
He didn’t consider himself to really be a children’s author. That was just part of his life that happened. And he’s like, I really would like people to recognize me for other things. But then of course, Pooh is so popular that he overtakes everything. I’m actually thinking of doing a second episode of just the history of the Milne family to kind of go into more of that because people have been saying things to me about that too. Like we know about Pooh now, but like, what about them? Okay, so that’s gonna be the next one. Probably over the summer around Pooh’s birthday and Christopher Robin’s birthday.
So Milne did not really view himself as being like, I’m gonna go out and be a children’s author. You know, it was kind of like something that happened. He wrote the first book, it was a book of poems, and it was very popular. And so once that became popular, it was like, Well, what else are you going to write about them? And then he ended up with essentially four children’s books. The stuffed animal plush was a present for his son on a birthday, not necessarily to be for a book. And then he had a few other ones—Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, and Roo. In one of his writings, he basically says my wife and my son created the characters and I just embellished for the stories. He doesn’t really take full credit. Yeah, it was inspired in some way by what his son was doing, playing with them. What I guess his wife was doing interacting with them. And then also, of course, just your writer brain kind of building it out and fleshing it out and changing it and maybe being inspired by some conversation.
Like I know, when he was writing his own memoir, Christopher Robin said, I don’t really know if the Poohsticks game, we started to play it because my dad wrote about it, or my dad wrote about it because I was playing it because he was young. And he was the kid at the time, kind of a mix of observing inspiration and inspiration put together. As far as I’ve ever read, didn’t have some great desire to write for children. But he was incredibly good at it.
Christa Avampato 21:23
The stories are so intricate. A long time ago, I worked at Toys R Us and I worked for this amazing man named Bob G. And for Christmas, he made me this card with a quote with one of the original Shepherd drawings on it, and he gave me this card. He felt like that line about Pooh bump bump bumping his head down the stairs in that very first book spoke to him. Because if you think about how we go through our lives as adults, if we could just stop bump bump bumping our heads. It made me wonder if Milne knew he was delivering a larger message about life or were they just stories meant to entertain.
Christine Caccipuoti 22:27
I feel like he was smart enough to know what he was saying, but don’t necessarily have his heart in these types of books. You can still be really good at it and have it not be your life’s passion as that part of your writing. Because they are universal. You can keep reading them. And every time you read them, you’re gonna get something different out of it. But as a kid, they’re just really cool stories. You could read it to a child as an adult and be as entertained as your kid is very easily.
Christa Avampato 22:55
Jim Henson is another storyteller who had that same kind of gift. You would watch The Muppet Show and all of the Muppet movies, and they can be enjoyed by kids. And they can be enjoyed by adults of all ages. It takes a really skilled storyteller to make that happen, because it’s not easy to write for all ages. It requires so much talent and so much skill to be able to do that.
Christine Caccipuoti 23:19
Part of what made him such a good writer was he doesn’t ever appear like he’s talking down to anybody. So even like when Christopher Robin comes in, and he’s still a young child, and he’s talking to these, essentially, you know, stuffed animals that have come to life in his world, but the conversations are never condescending. There’s a respect among the characters. There’s a respect from the human to the animals. And I think that goes a long way to making it feel like the reader is also respected. Because nothing’s worse than feeling like you’re being lectured.
Christa Avampato 23:55
One thing that you got into your episode that I just wanted to ask you about was Pooh came into the news recently. Because now he is sort of in the public domain, but sort of not and in that episode, you do a really interesting job of explaining why he’s in the in the public domain now or why he’s not. Let’s assume somebody very carefully figures out how yes, he’s now in the public domainDo you have any ideas of where Pooh could go next, like what does a 21st century Pooh look like.
Christine Caccipuoti 24:33
Oh, wow. that’s tough. He’s not wearing a red shirt because that’s still copyrighted.
Christa Avampato 24:36
That’s Disney. So no red shirt. Pooh’s got to be in he buff or he’s got to be wearing something else
Christine Caccipuoti 24:42
I feel like they’d still be in the Hundred Acre Wood because that’s sort of a place that’s set away. You could put him into society like they do put him into society and that one movie, you know when he’s coming back to find Christopher Robin. But I kind of like the idea of him being in that, like, the place where you can go there. It’s not the rest of the world. And keeping that simplicity. You could add more female characters.
I mean, I’m not saying you have to go in and change a current character to be something different because I think that would be a little weird because they are so embedded. I’m not huge on that for these particular characters. I’m all for adding new ones. We have the story of when Kanga first shows up, that’s in the original stories. So there is precedent for creating a new character, and then bringing them in. And I don’t know what it would be.
But you could handle all different personality types that we haven’t seen yet. Because we’ve just talked about the different kinds, whether it’s the anxious one, or the sad one or the hyper one. There’s more to them than just that. But there are character features that are of each one that you could definitely bring in more things that have been acknowledged now and are being embraced. I’d try and keep the text simple. I don’t want Pooh walking around with an iPhone buying cryptocurrency. But hey, you know what, somebody might be able to do that really well.
But I think maybe it’s because when I went to the to show, it had been a long time since I had really kind of engaged with anything new of Winnie-the-Pooh. And so I went in, and I was like, Oh my gosh, it’s the Hundred Acre Wood. When you saw it on the stage, which I think is partly why I’m kind of going, I feel like you kind of have to keep the aura or at least some sort of theme that is recognizable. Because for all the people that were in the theater when I saw it, and I was listening to people talking about it was like an instant ah, because you’re someplace that you recognize you’re someplace that makes you happy. And then you integrate the new things like Disney had integrated Gopher, the character of Gopher is not in any of the books. And then he shows up in all the Disney stuff.
So again, add to the world because the minute you bring a new character in you get new storylines, so there’s so many things you can watch them handle, kind of like Sesame Street does
Christa Avampato 27:01
Exactly. That’s another perfect example, right? Have a whole world filled with characters that have all types of personalities, and how do they get along? And what do they teach each other? What do they teach people like? I used to actually work at Sesame Street. I will never forget that Mr. Hooper episode and Big Bird has to start to understand the concept of death. They tackle so many difficult subjects, but they do it in such a genuine, authentic way. They introduced a new character who has autism. They include characters who come from different cultures and different religions. And what does that mean and how does that change the fabric of the neighborhood? It can be done really sensitively as long as it’s coming from a very authentic place.
Christine Caccipuoti 27:47
And they do a great job because they don’t go in and suddenly say, Well, you know, Elmo is not Elmo anymore, we’re changing him. Instead, it actually helps absorb the new things by watching how the classic iconic character handles whatever it is, I mean, not that things can’t be changed over time. Obviously characters evolve. I get them I say that they don’t in the way we’re talking now about like, how would you take Pooh moving forward? I want to see the Pooh or Piglet or whichever one that I know. And then how they’re engaging with the new situation. You can’t just like throw something in there and hope for the best. You’ve got to do a lot of work on like how the world has taken in new things before. What did they deal with? Which is kind of what Sesame Street does. They integrate everything into their stories a little more overtly, obviously, the Winnie-the-Pooh did in the 1920s. It’s still done in a way that you’re getting a story. But no Tigger! He’s not in the public domain yet. He didn’t come out in the first book. So you gotta wait for him.
Christa Avampato 28:47
Christine, thank you so much for joining us on JoyProject. I’m so honored that you were willing to spend the time and spread your joy and teach us more about Pooh. Teach us more about history. And if people want to know more about the podcast more about you, where should they go?
Christine Caccipuoti 29:01
Thank you for having me. You can basically just Google Footnoting History and all of our social media and our website and everything will come up. We’re everywhere. It’s pretty simple. And I come up with it. But if you want me on Twitter, it’s @mynameispurpose, no spaces. That’s from Avenue Q.
Christa Avampato 29:17
Love it. Christine, thank you so much for joining us. An absolute joy for me to spend some time with you.
Christine Caccipuoti 29:22
Thank you. It was so exciting. I’m very happy you’re doing JoyProject.
Christa Avampato 29:26
Talking with Christine about Pooh and editing this episode of JoyProject was such a joyful experience for me. I loved being able to deep dive into the Hundred Acre Wood, a place I loved as a child and a place I still love now. So I wanted to share two things with you that Christine alluded to in the episode.
The first is when Christine got emotional talking about the end of the book The House at Pooh Corner. I wanted to read that final bit of that book to you so you can understand why it means so much to her:
“Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hand, called out “Pooh!”
“Yes?” said Pooh.
“Yes, Christopher Robin?”
“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”
“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again.
“Yes, Christopher Robin?” said Pooh helpfully.
“Pooh, when I’m–you know–when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?”
“Will you be here too?”
“Yes Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be Pooh.”
“That’s good,” said Pooh.
“Pooh, promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.”
Pooh thought for a little.
“How old shall I be then?”
Pooh nodded. “I promise,” he said.
Still with his eyes on the world Christopher Robin put out a hand and felt Pooh’s paw.
“Pooh,” said Christopher Robin earnestly, “if I–if I’m not quite–” he stopped and tried again– “Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand, won’t you?”
“Oh, nothing.” He laughed and jumped to his feet. “Come on!”
“Where?” said Pooh.
“Anywhere.” said Christopher Robin.
So, they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.
― A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
In this episode Christine also mentioned that the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed animals owned by Christopher Robin Milne, A.A. Milne’s son, are on display in New York City. They’re currently part of a free exhibit at the main branch of the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. The exhibit is called the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures.
I’ve been to the exhibit and it’s fantastic. Timed tickets are free and can be reserved online at the Library’s website. If you’re not in New York City, much of the exhibition is also online on the Library’s website where you can view the items and read additional details on each of the items.
The library’s website describes the exhibition as follows
For more than 125 years, The New York Public Library has collected, preserved, and made accessible the world’s knowledge. Now, for the first time, the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures showcases some of the most extraordinary items from the 56 million in our collections, inspiring and empowering visitors to discover, learn, and create new knowledge—today and in the years ahead.
The treasures in this exhibition tell the stories of people, places, and moments spanning 4,000 years—from the emergence of the written word through to the present day. Visitors will encounter manuscripts, artworks, letters, still and moving images, recordings, and more that bring vividly to life voices of the past. While the Library’s collections have always been available for public use, the Polonsky Exhibition builds on our 125-year legacy by offering a unique opportunity to make new connections and expand our understanding of the world and each other—so that together we can shape a better future.
The Pooh stuffed animals are described as:
On his first birthday, in 1921, Christopher Robin Milne received a teddy bear purchased from Harrods department store in London. Christened Winnie-the-Pooh, the bear soon acquired several now-familiar companions: Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Tigger, and Roo. (Roo was eventually lost in an apple orchard.) In time, Christopher’s playmates would come to inspire several classic works such as Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928), all written by his father, A.A. Milne.
Brought to the United States in 1947, the toys remained with Milne’s American publisher, E.P. Dutton, until 1987, when they were donated to the Library. Today they stand as a beloved centerpiece of the Library’s renowned collection of children’s literature, continuing to delight and inspire both the young and young at heart.
I hope you’ll check out the exhibition, either in-person or online and delight in all of the wonders that it holds.
Thank you so much to Christine for joining us on JoyProject and sharing her joy of all things Winnie-the-Pooh.
And thank you so much for listening to this episode. You can find a transcript of this episode, more information about Christine and her Footnoting History podcast, and all of the links to things we discussed at christaavampato.com/joyproject
There you can also find links and resources for all of the episodes.
If you want to get in touch with me and tell me what’s bringing you joy, visit the website christaavampato.com, or find me on Twitter at christanyc and on Instagram at christarosenyc.
I’ll be back in two weeks on August 23rd with another episode of JoyProject. Until then, take care of yourself and take care of those in your corner of the world. Have a joy-filled week and I’ll talk to you soon.