My Relationship with Mister Rogers
The rekindling of my relationship with Mister Rogers started with a package lying in wait on the dining room table.
I’d started collecting children’s vinyl records around the time I became pregnant. You know the kind: Sesame Street, The Muppets, vintage Disney stories & songs… and now the latest addition had arrived: Mister Rogers!
I hurriedly opened the package, flipped the record over to read the back cover, and discovered that this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill children’s record.
In addition to the usual liner notes, the back cover included a list of child psychology consultants, Fred Rogers’ educational credentials, and the purpose of each song and how it related to a child’s development.
And true to its bona fides―the record is lovely. It’s tender and educational for both kids and parents alike.
Now, if you know me, you know that once I’m interested in a topic, I dive headfirst down the rabbit hole of learning all about it.
I started by watching every video involving Fred Rogers, reading every article and book about him, and pouring over his foundation’s website to learn more about this amazing man.
Here are a just a few interesting facts about Mr. Rogers:
- He was a devout pacifist
- Many of his famous sayings are direct quotes from his beloved maternal grandpa and namesake, Fred McFeely
- He was born in Pennsylvania, had an overprotective mother, and was bullied for being overweight
- Fred Rogers held a degree in Music Composition, and also in Divinity
- He was ordained as a minister in the United Presbyterian Church
- He wrote the theme for his show himself, and it was played live each episode
- Michael Keaton was once a stagehand on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
- Mr. Rogers obsessively kept his weight at precisely 143 pounds (the numbers that correspond to “I love you”)
- He swam laps nearly every morning―in the buff!
“Facts” about Mr. Rogers that are urban legends/not true:
- He never served in the military
- He was never a military sniper, either
- He wasn’t covered in sleeve tattoos (he wore his trademark cardigans because his mother made them for him)
- He wasn’t just a television or media personality, and he certainly wasn’t a hypocrite―he lived his life the same way off screen as on
Even with my new insights into Fred Rogers, I still wanted to know more―and there just wasn’t enough info out there about him to satisfy my curiosity.
Fast forward a year or two, and you can imagine my delight when this popped up in my Facebook feed:
Though sadly he’s now gone from this world, Mister Rogers and I are lifelong friends. He used the medium of television as a means to fulfill his mission, and I watched him succeed.
To this day, I’m reminded of one of his most profound insights into the human condition: that we all have a powerful desire to love, and to be loved in return.
I strive to keep his spirit of kindness at the center of my world. So please, always remember: you’ve made today special just by being you! Xo
UPDATE: Some of my nearest and dearest watched the movie together… and it was wonderful!
Absolutely worth seeing, and it’s a lovely reminder of the good that lives in all of us.
Let me know if you go, and share your thoughts in the comments below!