Fifty years ago Mr. Rogers moved into the neighborhood and it hasn’t been the same since. He would sing a song inviting you to be his neighbor while changing into his neighborhood clothes of a zippered cardigan and tennis shoes. Then he would greet Trolley and walk to the neighborhood to visit with his friends at their shops, perhaps Brockett’s Bakery, Bob Trow’s Workshop or Negri’s Music Shop. Mr. McFeely the speedy deliveryman might stop by to deliver something speedily. Quite often Mr. Rogers would visit the Neighborhood of Make-Believe where he would talk with his puppet or human friends about the topic of the day. When it was time to return home, he would sing a song about tomorrow as he changed back into his street shoes and coat. It was all very respectful, imaginative, and sweet. My Aunt, who knew Fred Rogers, welcomed his late afternoon television visits while she would recoup from a harried day with her young twin girls. She thought him as kind on television as he was in person. And you thought his program was just for children! Indeed, he was a gentle and most welcome neighbor.
How do you remember Mr. Rogers? Many people are revisiting his neighborhood of not so long ago all over the internet. If you are unfamiliar with his program and would like to watch some episodes, go to Twin Cities PBS for broadcast dates of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. There you will find other programs that might interest you, such as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and PBS’ own retrospective program Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like in March (check for dates and air times). You will also find posts and video clips remembering lessons learned from Mr. Rogers, lessons for adults as well as children and games, history, and more here.
Diane Rehm of public radio’s Diane Rehm Show interviewed Fred Rogers in 2002 to discuss his book on parenting, his career, and early childhood and self-esteem. Go here to hear it or to read the transcript. Many people reference Mr. Rogers’ story about his mother counseling him “to look for the helpers” when disaster or hardship strike. Bob Collins of MPR News shares a video clip from Fred Rogers telling the story and then offers some insightful comments by Phillip Maciak of Louisiana State University and Anthony Breznican’s chance meeting and how this simple piece of advice impacted him and helped him deal with the pain of loss. This is just a sampling of the stories available.
Stories and television episodes aren’t the only ways people are remembering Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. On March 23 the US Postal Service will hold a first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony for the Mr. Rogers Forever Stamp featuring Mr. Rogers and his puppet King Friday XIII. For information about attending this free event in Pittsburgh or viewing via facebook go here. And, the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about Fred Rogers’ life and philosophy directed by Morgan Neville, will be released in theaters in June. Look for it. As you remember Mr. Rogers or encounter him for the first time, think about honoring his legacy by spreading the word: Won’t you be my neighbor?
CREDIT: KUHT, commons.wikimedia.org
Rudi Riet, commons.wikimedia.org
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