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Back from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood -- And What a Warm, Inspiring Place It Was
October 19, 2009  | By David Bianculli
mister-rogers.jpgI just spent a few glorious days at the Fred Rogers Center, an inspiring facility at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. It's a place devoted to the development of children, and worthwhile children's media, and it's populated by employees, executives, fellows and advisors that leave no doubt that Mister Rogers' mission is in the best of hands...

For one thing, they didn't name the place the Fred Rogers CENTRE, with snooty spelling. Fred would have wanted things plain and simple, and the Center is a warm and unstuffy environment indeed...

Much of what we were shown, or discussed, during the days of presentations was off the record, or left to the Center itself to announce and publicize. But one thing that knocked me out was a touch screen exhibit that allowed you to select and watch clips from Rogers' amazingly long and influential TV history.

I saw one clip I've never seen before, and from this point on will never forget: a scene from a prime-time special in which he and his puppets react to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

That one clip, that one chilling moment of pure honesty and genuine concern, drove it home, all over again, why Fred Rogers was unique, and invaluable, as a children's TV host.

If you have any personal memories of watching Fred Rogers' TV shows, as a child or parent, I'd love you to share them.




Mac said:

Well,maybe not so immediately personal,but I should say at the outset that my kids were raised during the "Sesame Street/Mister Rogers Neighborhood/Electric Company" PBS era and I encouraged them to watch often. Also,one of my kids and I met Mr. McFeely(Speedy Delivery,aka David Newell)on the street as he was on his way to a personal appearance.He really did seem to be the best postman you would ever meet.
My story is about a friend(and,later,neighbor)who worked for a big utility company in the tallest building in town. Lots of meetings,lots of paperwork,lots of stress. When he could come home at a respectable hour,he many times found himself watching Mister Rogers' show. He saw a human who gave direct eye contact and told him that he was of value;that life can be difficult(even scary)but you can never go down the drain. This never happened to this guy on the job.

Comment posted on October 20, 2009 11:36 AM

Deane said:

I was a young mother living in NJ when the second Kennedy assassination shook us all. I was devastated and greatly helped by Mr. Rogers explanation of the different ways people grieve the loss of loved ones. I had been sheltered from death by overprotective parents and was still mourning the loss of a college roommate to cancer. Her funeral was my first and I had felt as though others didn't care because their ways of dealing were so different from my own. Later as a psychotherapist, I used the lessons from the dear Mr. Rogers to help my patients.

Comment posted on October 20, 2009 5:31 PM

Robert said:

He appealed to me in all stages of my life.
One thing I really appreciated is that he could talk to children without talking down to them, but also without acting like an oversized child himself (ex. Blue's Clues, the Wiggles, sometimes - Sesame Street, etc).

Maybe part of the reason he was so appealing was because he spoke from the heart and truly made his viewers feel special for who they were. (Being a social outcast as a child and most of my proceeding life I REALLY appreciated this.)

Unfortunately, shows like "Mr. Rogers" and the recently canceled "Reading Rainbow" are falling by the wayside as a greater emphasis is being put on concept learning. Although concept learning is important, the question is what are you left with when the basic concepts are all that is covered? When we have learned just enough to get by in our daily lives?

The previously mentioned shows educated more on how and why we should learn. They taught that learning, experiencing life, and interacting with people can be rewarding. Mr. Rogers conveyed his own excitement and love for learning and people. His lessons were often social based and covered more complex topics (than say the number "3" or the letter "Y").

It's too bad that Fred Rogers or someone like him doesn't seem to be on TV these days, because in these uncertain times couldn't we all use someone to ask "Won't you be my Neighbor?"

Comment posted on October 22, 2009 9:05 AM

Mark Catoe said:

I remember being influenced by Mister Rogers as a child in the '80s. My sister and I even made an imitative video based on his show using my parents' bulky and primitive video recorder.

After college I rediscovered his show and his work. I am proud to say that my two-year-old son and I now watch Mister Rogers' Neighborhood together. In my mind, his value in fostering emotional development (among other things) for children is unparalleled on television.

Comment posted on October 23, 2009 10:40 PM

Steve said:

I grew up on "Mit Wogers" from toddler on up, and watched intently whenver mom propped me in front of the TV. I believe so much of my mild-mannered, calm, laid back personality came from Fred. I had the fortune of going to school in Pittsburgh, right in Mr. Rogers backyard, and got to see the sets for the Neighborhood at the TV station where it was filmed, QED. Seeing the Castle - including the backside, with the 1960's TV monitor that Fred used to watch while he did his puppet performances - was precious! He was truly one of the Great Men, and taught a generation how to be whole people, at one with their feelings.

Comment posted on November 7, 2009 2:07 PM
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