The 10 Most Important PBS Programs of All Time

During the past five decades, PBS has been the primary distributor of educational content on American television, airing programs that have had an enormous impact on education, science, cultural literacy, and entertainment. As this week also marks the 40th anniversary of the debut of one of the network’s most important programs, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, here’s a look back at the most important PBS programs of all time.

Bonus British Entry: Doctor Who

Multiple Doctors and their companions face The Master (Uploaded to YouTube by Classic DW)

PBS has a substantial history of importing British fare from providers like the BBC, ITV, and more (more on that in a bit). One particular series that’s had a significant impact on the American cultural landscape is Doctor Who. Doctor Who is about the mysterious regenerating alien known as The Doctor and his (or currently, her) adventures. It came to the States via PBS in 1970, and that run lasted 20 years, building a solid American fanbase that greeted the rebooted series with open arms in the 2000s. (In fact, it’s the long-running science fiction series on television.)

10. Frontline

Since 1983, Frontline has been one of PBS’s standard bearers for journalism. Each episode is essentially a documentary about a different topic; more than 711 have been produced over the life of the series, which is still ongoing. The show has won every major award in television, including 75 Emmys and 18 Peabodys. One of the most-discussed episodes of the past decade was “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis,” which won a Peabody in 2013. Since 1988, the series has produced a special episode devoted to each presidential election; called “The Choice,” the episode does a deep dive into each candidate. The “Choice” installment dedicated to the 2020 election ran on September 22. Alasdair Wilkins of A.V. Club called Frontline “the hardest hitting show on television” in 2015, a mere 32 years after it started.

9. Antiques Roadshow

A painting valuation on Antiques Roadshow (Uploaded to YouTube by Antiques Roadshow PBS)

Though the British version of this show pioneered the format in 1979, an original American take on the idea didn’t happen until 1997. However, it clicked immediately and has been running ever since. The main draw is certainly the idea that some old piece of memorabilia (or, let’s face it, junk) that is collecting dust in your house might suddenly turn out to be valuable. The series remains very popular and has regularly been nominated for Emmys (notably in the Structured Reality Program category). While a good portion of the pieces appraised on the show turn out to be just regular items, things like a painting by our old friend Norman Rockwell (The Little Model from 1919) have been discovered; it was appraised at $500,000.

8. PBS NewsHour

PBS’s version of the daily evening news launched in 1975 as The Robert MacNeil Report. MacNeil had been the moderator of another important PBS program, Washington Week in Review, and had covered the Watergate hearings alongside Jim Lehrer. The duo won an Emmy for that work, and the Report began soon after. The following year, Lehrer was brought in as co-anchor, and the show was renamed The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, then The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, which stuck until 1995, when MacNeil retired. Lehrer remained, and the show transitioned into PBS NewsHour in 2009 in preparation for Lehrer’s eventual 2011 retirement. Today, the show is anchored on weekdays by Judy Woodruff and runs all seven evenings in a week; from 2013 to 2016, Woodruff and co-anchor Gwen Ifill were the first all-female anchor team for a daily broadcast news show in America. Unlike other nightly news programs, NewsHour, as the title suggests, is a full hour, allowing for more depth in covering various national and international stories.

7. Austin City Limits

Kacey Musgraves performs “Rainbow” on Austin City Limits (Uploaded to YouTube by AustinCityLimitsTV)

Recorded live in Austin, Texas, which proclaims itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin City Limits has been running live performances by acts from a variety of genres since 1976. It’s the only TV show to be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Legends that have appeared the show include Willie Nelson (who was in the pilot episode), Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, and Loretta Lynn; recent episodes have included younger acts like St. Vincent, Kacey Musgraves, Billie Eilish, and Run the Jewels.

6. Reading Rainbow

Winning over 200 awards in its 21-season run, Reading Rainbow was aimed squarely at fostering a love of books in children. It’s certainly one of the most fondly remembered shows in the online community as memes and other references circulate frequently. The series was hosted by LeVar Burton, otherwise best known for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Roots. Rainbow has the distinction of being the third-longest-running children’s series on PBS (behind only, spoiler alert, the #1 and #2 on this list). It’s also one of the few shows of any type that regularly recommended books that you should get from your local library. Though the show ended in 2006 (with reruns airing until 2009), it has found a second life through other outlets, like a popular iTunes app that launched in 2012.

5. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

Hosted and co-written by astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan, 1980’s Cosmos took on space, time, intelligence, memory, and the origins of life. Each of its 13 episodes deployed special effects that were cutting edge at the time, realizing planets and nebulae on the screen in a way that hadn’t been seen before, particularly in the context of teaching the audience about science. Wildly popular, the show was the most-watched series on PBS in history (and would remain so until our #4 debuted). It remains among the most-watched series on the planet. Sagan wrote a companion book for the series, which spent 70 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list; Sagan wrote a “sequel,” Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space in 1994. In 2014, a new companion series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, debuted, with a second sequel, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, arriving earlier this year.

4. The Civil War

Documentarian Ken Burns debuted his nine-part The Civil War on PBS 30 years ago, and it became the most-watched series in the history of the network. The show’s distinguishing trademark feature was how Burns directed it; the series employed more than 16,000 still photographs which Burns brought to life with pans and zooms, while also blending in narrators, commentators, and music. The lively and visually interesting approach made it accessible to broad audiences. Its popularity made Burns one of the few instantly recognizable documentary makers in America and opened the way for his other well-received documentary series, like Baseball, The Vietnam War, and Country Music. Although the series did win over 40 awards and is still regarded as a high-water mark in documentary filmmaking, it has received its share of criticism over time. Notably, it has been faulted for not diving deeply enough into slavery as a cause of the war, and for unintentionally perpetuating the “Lost Cause” myth.

3. Masterpiece

“How It All Began: Season 1” Downton Abbey featurette (Uploaded to YouTube by Downton Abbey)

A series that’s been with PBS almost from the beginning, Masterpiece Theatre, now simply called Masterpiece, debuted in January of 1971. The show is both an anthology and a brand that produces and licenses prestige content, with many acquisitions coming from British outlets like the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4. The series was popular enough to generate the anthology spin-off Mystery!, but today that series and the sub-heads Classic and Contemporary all exist under the broader Masterpiece branding. Among the shows that the brand has brought to American viewers are I,Claudius, Prime Suspect, Sherlock, Touching Evil, The Jewel in the Crown, Upstairs/Downstairs, and more. One particular acquisition, Downton Abbey, became its own cultural phenom in 2011. The costume drama about a well-to-do family and their servants in the 19teens and ’20s captured popular attention and became a water-cooler sensation for its entire run, eventually leading to a 2019 theatrical film that did well enough in both box office and awards to merit ongoing talk of a sequel.

2. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (Uploaded to YouTube by PBS KIDS)

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has an origin story that runs back to the 1950s. In 1954, Fred Rogers and Josie Carey started the program The Children’s Corner on Pittsburgh’s WQED; Rogers created a number of his famous puppet characters on that show, including Daniel Tiger. Rogers began a follow-up to the program on the Canadian CBC called Misterogers in 1962. In 1966, Rogers came back to the States and continued the show as MisteRogers’ Neighborhood; it started running nationally on National Education Television in 1968 and continued when NET was essentially rolled in PBS in 1970. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would run for another 31 years, wrapping up in 2001. It’s nearly impossible to articulate the impact of the series, which entertained and educated through puppetry, short films, arts, and human interaction. Fred Rogers tried to teach children kindness and understanding with a gentle demeanor. Rogers also dealt heavily with the fact that children are people, too, and that they, like adults, also had emotions that they needed to learn about and understand. The show’s theme, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, has been absorbed in broader culture, as have many of Rogers’ bits, catchphrases (“It’s you I like”), and mannerisms. Rogers also gave starts and career boosts to talents like Michael Keaton (who was a production assistant in addition to appearing on-screen) and George Romero (who filmed the segment where Rogers received a tonsillectomy prior to directing Night of the Living Dead).

1. Sesame Street

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers R.E.M. and some furry, happy monsters (Uploaded to YouTube by Sesame Street)

Premiering in November of 1969 and airing on PBS since the beginning, Sesame Street has served as, in many ways, one of the flagships for public television. It’s certainly one of the first things that people think of when they hear the phrase “educational TV,” and it’s little wonder; the show has accumulated almost 200 Emmys and has been subject to more than 1000 research studies that highlight its effectiveness. With its mix of human cast members,memorable Muppets created by Jim Henson and company, and celebrity guests, audiences are guided through lessons in letters, numbers, reading, vocabulary, emotional intelligence, and more. Its characters are staples of American culture, and it’s exceedingly rare to find anyone who doesn’t know who Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, or Oscar the Grouch are. However, Sesame Street is also the perfect model of the funding difficulties that even wildly successful PBS shows can face. In 2015, after years of funding battles and criticisms over deals that were made to keep the expensive show going, the show’s producers made a deal to air first-run episodes on HBO; new shows continue to run PBS several months after the initial HBO airing. The show’s extensive library is also now parked at HBO, with entire seasons available on apps like HBO Max.

In the broader history of television, the importance of PBS cannot be underestimated. Its nonprofit status and educational mission make it different than virtually every other network.Corporate donations are vetted to make sure that programs aren’t made to promote or favorite those companies in an unethical way. Polls undertaken by Roper Opinion Research have placed PBS as the most-trusted institution in America for more than 15 years. And for every show on this list, there’s a Great Performances or a Nova or an Electric Company or dozens to hundreds like them that have helped shaped the culture. PBS continues to inform and educate while it entertains. As it passes 50 years on the air, the audience should remember what it has achieved, and what it can still achieve in the future.

Featured image: VIAVAL TOURS / Shutterstock

Did Big Bird Make Us Stupid?

Back in the early 1970s, soon after my first child was born, I was thrilled that there was a new show, Sesame Street, on public television that not only captivated my daughter for hours on end but also promoted educational benefits like learning the alphabet and numbers.

So I was shocked when my mother, a long-time kindergarten teacher, proclaimed her adamant disapproval. “I won’t let my granddaughter watch that!” my mother declared. “And you shouldn’t either. It’s just fast-paced addictive junk that’s worse than candy for kids. Everything is quick and jumpy — they’re not really learning anything. They parrot the alphabet but they’re not learning to interact with other kids or to play or think or use their imagination.”

Of course, I ignored my mom’s warnings and dismissed them as old-fashioned and conservative, and happily my kids all watched a good share of Sesame Street while also growing up to be smart, independent, and addicted not to TV but to reading and writing.

But decades later, my mother’s words are resonating as I watch news on television. You might think that people — be they liberal or conservative — who watch these programs are actually interested in what’s being discussed. But the shows’ producers actively discourage any real involvement with substance. They find it impossible to allow anyone to talk for more than five seconds without cutting away with distracting video clips — to name but one example, whenever anyone brings up the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, you can be sure they will show Comey walking toward Trump and shaking hands, over and over again. And, of course, there’s the never-ending chyrons that sometimes run as double or even triple-decks along the bottom of the screen. All told, it’s a torrent of babbling and often meaningless gibberish.

I know it’s fashionable to blame the internet for today’s often mindless political warfare. But as I’m watching today’s coverage of Trump and the Democrats and Brexit and Ukraine all jumping around mindlessly on split screens, I offer a silent apology to my mother, who would be so amused and appalled by today’s television and movies, which often make the Sesame Street segments she deplored seem as long as The Ten Commandments by comparison.

This article is featured in the January/February 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Big Bird, Mr. Snuffleupagus, and Cookie Monster (Copyright © HBO/Sesame Street Workshop)

News of the Week: Fired Muppets, Snortable Chocolate, and Michael Phelps vs. a Great White Shark

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Is it possible for a puppet to get fired?

In the case of Kermit the Frog, it is. Specifically, the voice behind the Muppet has been fired. Disney has canned Steve Whitmire, who has provided the voice of the popular Sesame Street character for almost 30 years, after taking over the role from creator Jim Henson.

The reason? Whitmire says that two Disney executives told him it was because he sent notes that were too detailed, which made people uncomfortable, and also because of a contract dispute regarding a video project that Whitmire declined to do. Whitmire says that he’s upset, because he’s put three decades into the job and it’s his “life’s work.” He sees it as a betrayal. In a press release, Disney says they let Whitmire go because he displayed “repeated unacceptable business conduct” over the years.

Matt Vogel will take over the role of Kermit. Miss Piggy, who has been romantically involved with Kermit in the past, could not be reached for comment.

Nose Candy

I know what you’re thinking: You love chocolate, but you’re tired of consuming it the old-fashioned way, via the mouth. Surely there must be a way to get chocolate into the body in some other way?

There is! It’s called Coco Loko, and it’s chocolate in powder form that you can snort! Apparently it has been popular at European parties for years, but now it’s here in the United States, and people are wondering if it’s legal to sell or even safe to eat, if “eat” can even be used to describe what you’re doing with it.

Coming soon: Chocolate in liquid form that you take intravenously. You don’t get the pleasure of experiencing the taste of the chocolate but you still get the rush and calories.

Michael Phelps Is Going to Race a Shark, for Some Reason

Actually, the reason is because it’s part of the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Phelps vs. Shark.” The Olympic gold medal winner will race against a great white this Sunday, July 23, at 8 p.m. And no, Phelps won’t be in a cage. Both he and the shark will be in open water. But since the show was taped weeks ago and Phelps is doing interviews for it this week, we can safely assume he wasn’t eaten. No word yet on who won.

RIP Martin Landau, George Romero, Bob Wolff, Harvey Atkin, and John Bernecker

Martin Landau was a fine actor who had some great movie roles over the years, in such films as North by Northwest, Crimes and Misdemeanors, and Ed Wood, for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing Bela Lugosi. He also appeared in TV shows like Mission: Impossible, Space: 1999, and a million others since the 1950s. Landau died Saturday at the age of 89.

His first job was as a cartoonist for The New York Daily News, and he turned down the role of Mr. Spock on Star Trek.

If you like The Walking Dead you partly have George Romero to thank. He wrote and directed the classic 1968 horror flick Night of the Living Dead and its many sequels. He also directed Creepshow, The Dark Half, and a 1974 documentary titled O.J. Simpson: Juice on the Loose (which might be a good movie to watch this week to coincide with Simpson’s parole hearing). Romero passed away Sunday at the age of 77.

Speaking of The Walking Dead, the show was temporarily shut down this week after the death on the set of stuntman John Bernecker. The 33-year-old also did stunts for movies like Logan and Fantastic Four as well as TV shows like Memphis Beat and The Vampire Diaries.

Bob Wolff was the longest-running sportscaster in TV and radio history. He’s not only the only person to have announced the championship games in each of the four major sports, he interviewed Babe Ruth. Wolff died Saturday at the age of 96.

Harvey Atkin played the camp director in the classic comedy Meatballs, was a regular on Cagney & Lacey, and acted in such shows as Law and Order: SVU and many cartoons. He died earlier this week at the age of 74.

Town Honors World War II Vet with No Family

What happens when a World War II vet with no close relatives dies? Hopefully the community comes together to honor him. That’s exactly what the citizens of Pembroke, Massachusetts did when former Marine Malcolm Phillips, who died at the age of 92.

Moon Dust

Nancy Carlson likes space so much that she paid $995 for a bag used on the historic Apollo 11 mission. The forgotten bag was auctioned off yesterday at Sotheby’s, and she got a great return on her investment ($1.5 million). But she almost lost the bag in a legal fight with NASA.

After Carlson bought the bag, complete with moon dust still inside, she sent it to the space agency to make sure it was authentic. NASA said it was indeed a real bag used during Apollo 11, but she wasn’t getting it back because it shouldn’t have been sold in the first place! She sued and won but decided it would be safer to auction it off than keep it in her home.

This Week in History

Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon (July 20, 1969)

The NASA mission that included that bag happened 48 years ago yesterday (it’s not a coincidence the Sotheby’s auction took place yesterday). Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins took off from the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, on July 16 and landed on the moon four days later. Armstrong was the first to step foot on the surface, followed by Aldrin (Collins stayed on board the command module to pilot it). Here’s how CBS covered it:

Ernest Hemingway Born (July 21, 1899)

The acclaimed author never wrote for the Post (he submitted but we didn’t accept — sorry!) but he did appear on the March 12, 1966, cover.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History

“Doing Dishes at the Beach” (July 19, 1952)

Stevan Dohanos
July 19, 1952

You can look at this Stevan Dohanos cover two ways. It could be a funny picture — oh, that wacky husband and kids of mine, having fun on the beach while I’m stuck doing dishes just like at home! — or you could look at it as kind of sad, for the very same reasons. I lean toward the latter. I think it’s the way Dohanos shows her only from the back, looking off into the distance at her family having fun while she works, face unseen.

Today Is National Junk Food Day

At first, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to link to any recipes for this day. How do you find recipes for “junk food”? It’s usually just something we buy at the supermarket or fast food place, right? But this is the web, so …

Here are instructions on how to make a homemade version of a Big Mac, and here’s a recipe for your own version of the Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwich. If your junk food tastes run more toward snacks and desserts, here are recipes for homemade versions of Oreos, Hostess Sno Balls, peanut butter cups, and Goldfish Crackers.

Or if you’re feeling lazy, you could just go out and buy them.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

National Parents’ Day (July 23)

The day was established under President Bill Clinton in 1994.

National Talk in an Elevator Day (July 28)

This is the day you have permission to talk to random strangers you meet on the elevator, about anything you want. Anything! Talk to them about politics, about the weather, about movies, even talk to them about your collection of elephant figurines or the history of cheese. They’ll love it!

News of the Week: Chuck Berry, Changes with Monopoly, and Costly Comma Mistakes

RIP Chuck Berry, Jimmy Breslin, Chuck Barris, David Rockefeller, James Cotton, Derek Walcott, Colin Dexter, Lawrence Montaigne, Robert Day

What else do you need to say about Chuck Berry except that he was one of the inventors of rock ’n’ roll? When you think of rock in the ’50s one of the songs you think about is probably “Johnny B. Goode,” later made famous for a younger audience in Back to the Future. His other classics include “Rock and Roll Music,” “Sweet Little 16,” “School Day,” “No Particular Place to Go,” and many others.

Berry died Saturday at the age of 90. He has a new album coming out on June 16. It’s his first in 38 years, and it’s titled Chuck.

If Berry was the classic rock ’n’ roller then Jimmy Breslin was the classic newspaperman. The Pulitzer Prize winner wrote a column for The New York Daily News for 50 years, focusing on the everyday workers of New York City. It’s a cliché to say that we probably won’t see another guy quite like Breslin, but we probably won’t see another guy quite like Breslin. He wrote for The Saturday Evening Post too, including this 1965 humor piece about credit cards and this account of Jackie Kennedy’s final moments with JFK in Dallas.

Breslin passed away Sunday at the age of 88.

Chuck Barris
NBC Television Network.

You’ll remember Chuck Barris as the host and creator of the bizarre ’70s game show “The Gong Show.” He also produced “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game” and wrote a book, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, that became a movie directed by George Clooney and starring Sam Rockwell as Barris. He passed away Tuesday at the age of 87. A new version of “The Gong Show” is coming to ABC.

Barris was also a songwriter and wrote a song you might remember.

David Rockefeller was a billionaire, philanthropist, banker, and member of one of the country’s most famous families. He ran the family bank, Chase, for many years, and along with his brother Nelson, governor of New York, was instrumental in getting the World Trade Center towers built. He was the grandson of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller. He died Monday at the age of 101.

James Cotton was a legendary blues harmonica player who performed and recorded with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Santana, the Grateful Dead, Keith Richards, and many others over his seven-decade career. He passed away last week at the age of 81.

Derek Walcott was an influential Caribbean poet who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work. He died last Friday, March 17, at the age of 87.

Colin Dexter created the popular detective Inspector Morse, hero of a series of popular books and TV series. He passed away this week at the age of 86.

Lawrence Montaigne was an actor who appeared on several shows, including two episodes of the original Star Trek, where he played both a Vulcan and a Romulan. He was actually going to replace Leonard Nimoy in the second season if Nimoy had accepted an offer to join Mission: Impossible, but Nimoy decided to stay (he joined Mission: Impossible when Star Trek ended). He also appeared on shows like Batman, The Outer Limits, Lassie, I Spy, The Fugitive, and Dallas, as well as movies such as The Great Escape. Montaigne passed away last week at the age of 86.

Robert Day was a veteran movie and TV director. He directed the films First Man into Space, The Haunted Strangler, Two-Way Stretch, along with four Tarzan movies, and TV shows like The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Buccaneers, The Avengers, The Invaders, The F.B.I., Brackens World, The Streets of San Francisco, and Matlock. He died last Friday at the age of 94.

How Does a Thimble Become a Dinosaur?

I haven’t played Monopoly in years, but like most people I wanted to be the race car. I mean, who, if given a choice, would want to be the thimble? Maybe someone who sews.

If you didn’t care for the thimble, you’re in luck. After a poll, Parker Brothers has replaced that piece, along with the wheelbarrow and the boot. Instead of those pieces — hey, I kind of liked that boot! — we’re going to see a T-Rex, a rubber duck, and a penguin (and no, I have no idea why they call it a “rubber” duck and not just a duck). They’ll join the surviving pieces: the car, the dog, the top hat, the battleship, and the cat, so you might have a dinosaur and battleship square off, which I’m sure will be the basis for that Monopoly movie.

And if a big-screen film isn’t enough for you, the board game is also going to be musical.

Daniel at Breakfast

I’m reading a book of essays by Phyllis McGinley titled Sixpence in Her Shoe. It came out in 1963 and was a response to what people like Betty Friedan and other feminists were saying and publishing at the time. McGinley was a housewife and proud of it, and actually celebrated domesticity and suburban life. She also happened to be an acclaimed poet, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 for her collection Times Three and writing several children’s books and poetry for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and she wrote quite a bit for The Saturday Evening Post. It’s a shame that her books have gone out of print and she’s pretty much forgotten now (even though she was on the cover of Time at one point). But one of her books is remembered and celebrated every December: She wrote the original story for The Year Without a Santa Claus, the basis for the animated holiday TV classic of the same name.

Her birthday is March 21, which also happens to be World Poetry Day. On that day CNN anchor Jake Tapper posted this on Twitter. I don’t know much about poetry, but I like McGinley.


The Dangers of Not Using the Oxford Comma

We’ve all read examples of how omitting an Oxford (or serial) comma can lead to misunderstandings. One of my favorite examples is on a Tails magazine cover from a few years back that had the headline “Rachael Ray Finds Inspiration in Cooking Her Family and Her Dog.” They didn’t just forget that last comma, they forgot all of them — which makes me not want to eat at Rachael Ray’s house.

Forgetting it can also cost you a lot of money, which a Maine dairy company found out this week. Three truck drivers looking for overtime compensation filed suit against the company and could win a judgment of up to $10 million because of the way a contract was written.

Meet Julia

The iconic children’s show Sesame Street has debuted a new character. She has orange hair and her name is Julia. She also happens to be autistic.

I grew up watching Sesame Street and I learned a lot from it, not just basic knowledge like words and math and why some puppets like to live in trash cans, but also how to treat people. A character like this could really help kids understand.

Julia was already a character in Sesame Street books and stories, and producers decided to also add her to the TV show, which now runs first on HBO and then on PBS several months later.

This Week in History

Patrick Henrys Give Me Liberty Speech (March 23, 1775)

Here’s the full text and the story behind Henry’s famous “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” speech. It was given at St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia.

Harry Houdini Born (March 24, 1874)

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Harry Houdini. I read every book I could find on the magician, and at one point even thought of becoming a magician like Houdini (without all of the “escape from a milk container filled with water while handcuffed” stuff). Check out Saturday Evening Post Archives Director Jeff Nilsson’s article on Houdini and “The Art and Crime of Illusion.”

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: First Crocus Cover (March 22, 1947)

First Crocus by Norman Rockwell
First Crocus
Norman Rockwell
March 22, 1947

I’m not entirely sure what a “crocus” is. It almost sounds like a car. Introducing the Ford Crocus, new for 2017! Anyway, 50 years ago this week the Norman Rockwell work appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. Read the story behind the cover here.

Pecan Day

Pecans? Not a fan. Almonds? Sure. Peanuts? Yup. Cashews? Great! But I never got a taste for pecans, really. I was going to make a joke that someone should do an ad campaign for pecans with the slogan “YES PECAN!” but something like that already happened.

Tomorrow is Pecan Day. Here’s two recipes for shortbread cookies that include pecans, and here’s one for a crunchy sweet potato casserole.

Maybe I’ll try these sugar-coated pecans. Even though I’m not a pecan fan, I find that most things are improved when you cover them in sugar.

Next Weeks Holidays and Events

National Doctors Day (March 30)

This is the day when we honor the men and women who keep us alive. If you happen to have an appointment on this day, maybe you can bring your doctor some of those sugar-coated pecans.

World Backup Day (March 31)

If you’re like me, you often forget to back up the files you have on your computer (I once lost an entire novel I wrote because I didn’t have another copy). Today’s the day to remember to do that. Well, every day is the day to remember that, but maybe after an official day to remind us, we’ll actually start doing it. And I don’t mean just a cloud backup.