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Celebrating 50 years of Telestory Time with Elinor Hawkins

By Jaime McCutcheon
Published On: Jan 10 2014 10:31:05 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2014 10:33:00 PM CST

It's an institution at NewsChannel 12, and it's celebrating 50 years here.  We're talking about Telestory Time with Elinor Hawkins.  Miss Elinor has been reading books to kids for five decades, and at the same time, giving them so much more.

"I can't comprehend it, it's gone so fast. I think really, 50 years?," says Elinor Hawkins, host of Telestory Time.
     
But it has been 50 years since Elinor Hawkins first sat down on a chair in the studios of NewsChannel 12 and started reading stories to children around Eastern Carolina.  While a lot has changed in five decades, "the big thing in my life with Telestory Time is when color came. I looked forward to the station getting color.  I think color adds so much to a program," describes Hawkins.

Other things, though, remained timeless - like Miss Elinor's costume, her gentle demeanor and way with words, her love for everyone she reads to and the love they have for her in return.

"I meet adults on the street who say, 'you know I watched you as a child, and now I'm a grandmother and I still watch your show and I want you to know it,' and i am just thrilled," says Hawkins.
 
Adults like Paula Wetherington.  "I started watching Telestory when i was three."  She grew up watching Miss Elinor and never forgot the woman on TV.  Decades later, when Wetherington was in the hospital for her muscular dystrophy, it was that sweet voice that brought her comfort.

"I woke up and I heard 'good morning boys and girls,' and it was Miss Elinor.  And just being there, in the hospital, a comforting, familiar voice, a friend was there with me."

Eastern Carolina is full of stories like Paula's, stories of the way Elinor Hawkins has touched, comforted and taught generations.  And it's why, 50 years later, we are celebrating Miss Elinor.  On Thursday, there was a special ceremony and the library in New Bern, complete with a cake and singing, and New Bern's mayor even declared it Elinor Hawkins day.

Carolyn Stevens, the WCTI Program Director and long-time employee of the station, has worked with Miss Elinor through the years. "Over the 50 years, Elinor Hawkins has raised generations of children on reading and has literally read to hundreds of thousands of children."

Janet Latham is the former art director at NewsChannel 12 and started at the station about three weeks after it opened a little more than 50 years ago.  "To many youngsters, I'm sure she has encouraged many of them to read and enjoy reading."

You can watch more celebrating of 50 years with Elinor Hawkins.  NewsChannel 12 is airing a half hour, commercial-free Telestory Time special this Saturday, January 11, at 6 a.m.