Saturday, March 20, 2010


The kind, smiling fellow above is one Fred Rogers born this day 1928 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He is known to millions of people of a certain (my) age as the gentle spirited host of "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood," which aired from 1968 to 2001 on PBS (mostly). The show was a semi-staple of my childhood. Of course, looking back it is corny as hell but at the time it was like a nice, warm blanket. Evil did not exist in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Each of the 895 episodes started the same way with Mr. Rogers singing a lovely tune, changing into his trademark sneakers, and cardigan sweater. There was a life lesson in each program, and each one also included a trip to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where King Friday XIII held sway. The show was simple in the extreme, no fancy animations, or other bells and whistles that most programs rely on today to hold children's attention. Mr. Rogers composed all the music for the show himself, and was apparently a truly nice man who loved children, and not in any sort of Catholic priest way. He was an ordained minister who was specifically charged by his church to continue making his show because it was such a good way of teaching children the lessons of life. He only ever appeared on TV one time as someone other than himself, as a traveling preaching in "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," and never was a pitchman for any product. Though, he did lend his image to several non-profit, educational groups. He continued making his own, special brand of TV until his death from stomach cancer in 2002. The wasteland that is TV is a poorer place for his loss. Despite the Eddie Murphy caricature of him, Fred Rogers was a damn fine, gentle, soul that helped make the world a better place for a lot of people. It is a bit of gold from a time that has since long passed (i.e. my childhood, and the few moments of innocence I ever possessed). So, for making a show that clearly showed us the line between reality and fantasy, and for letting us into his safe neighborhood, Fred Rogers (March 20th, 1928-February 27th, 2003, at the age of 74), you are my (206th) hero of the day.

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