Freddish
June 8, 2018 12:05 PM   Subscribe

 
I saw Won't You Be My Neighbor last night.

I expected a lot of crying. There was a lot of crying.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:18 PM on June 8 [19 favorites]


Simply reading about the deep care and educated concern that formed such painstakingly precise writing for the show, made me instantly flash back to that wrapped-in-a-safe-warm-hug feeling I always had while watching each episode as a preschooler. Buying the author's book, and seeing Won't You Be My Neighbor are of utmost priority to my inner little right now.

May we all become fluent in Freddish, amen.
posted by Amor Bellator at 1:47 PM on June 8 [14 favorites]




I’ll never forget the look on my two year old’s face when I told him I had a little frog in my throat.
posted by bq at 2:06 PM on June 8 [12 favorites]


Hey... Folks.... His middle name was....


McFEELY

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Rogers

I had to Wikipedia him bc I realized I had no idea if he was married, gay, had kids, etc

Amazing that such a high profile person for so long could have an actual private life!
posted by sio42 at 2:10 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


bq... He's right about kids being literal! I remember hearing some grownups talk as a kid and my old sick grand uncle saying he wished he could get out of this pickle and I was like whoa, he's sicker than I thought... He thinks he's in a pickle!

I felt really extra sad for him then. Kid brains are so weird.
posted by sio42 at 2:12 PM on June 8 [6 favorites]


Despite the diverse views and backgrounds of the MetaFilter community, the mere mention of Fred Rogers always inspires some of the most thoughtful reflections and misty-eyed reminiscences on this site.

A little over eleven years ago, MetaFilter member Pastabagel wrote what is deservedly among, if not the single-most-favorited comments ever posted to this website. His reflection on how Rogers' presentation, earnestness and humanity seems to be so at odds with prevailing cultural norms is as relevant and timely now as it was then:
You know, it's quite a strange thing. The single most common adjective applied to Mister Rogers in this and other thread is the word 'creepy'?

I think I know why he strikes people as creepy. It's because his isn't at all 'cool'. There is no cynicism, no irony, no condescension in him at all. He is not simply unhip, he is ahip. And this is what people calling him creepy are picking up on.

We are conditioned to traffic in cool. You have to look cool, not look nice or distinguished or presentable, but cool. But it's all so generic. Everyone seems to have the same new haircut that no one 5 years ago had. We all have the same cynical politics.

Something about the counterculture from the 60's is still with us but it has been co-opted into a form of synchronized periodic obsolescence and mockery of that which came before. There is something fundamentally anti-intellectual about this, but I can't quite articulate it. There some element of arrogance there. Like everyone is perpetually 18.

Cool is America's code, and I really do think this is an American problem, because cool is propagated mainly though mass media, and there is no greater media saturated culture on earth than America's. Will I look cool wearing this? Will I sound cool saying this, or reading this or doing this. We're committing mass murder in other parts of the world because somebody figured out how to make violence cool and tough-talk politics cool, and then they combined the too. Swagger is cool. Cowboys and fighter jets and JDAMs and war porn are cool. So that's what we have. We are the Kingdom of Whatever.

Of course he hated ad-libbing on camera, because ad-libbing on camera is inexcusably lazy. It's what you do so you don't have to write or rehearse. Actors and comedians and musicians improvise as a way of living within a moment that is in some way artificial. A method actor may improvise because he is trying to become the character, but he isn't the character to begin with. A Jazz musician improvises because while the structure and the changes are the same, and the audience is familiar with them, the particular moment of performance is not, and that has it's own emotional context.

Mister Rogers was the same guy, so why improvise? The show wasn't about his character, it was about the kids, os you have to work out ahead of time how best to communicate with the child viewers. Everything was planned.

He talks slowly not because kids are dumb but because as studies have shown, children's brains are considerably more active than adults', and they need time to return to the original thought communicated to them after branching off in multitudinous directions.

The puppets? Puppets are good because they are considerably smaller than the human actors around them, and thus kids perceive them as safe. They look like toys. Contrast this with a giant seven foot all yellow bird, and ask yourself which inspired more nightmares.

The show is glacially paced and had the same structure with the same things happening in the same order because children respond to structure and routine is a source of comfort, particularly in children whose lives were anything but predictable.

Maybe that's what cool is - withdrawing from the context of one's life into an artificial one, in which the cool perceives itself to be somehow outside of reality, looking in and commenting on it. But this isn't insight, it's not reflecting on the world. It's standing at the edge of the world sniping into it.

Mister Rogers isn't creepy. CSI with is gruesome bloody corpses every Thursday at promptly 9:14 EST is creepy. Thirty million people looking at that and snaking on chips while they watch is creepy.

Listening to some rapper sing about his genitals and sexual conquests is creepy. Approach crowds of people and talk to them about the aroused state of your genitals, and watch how quickly you end up in a squad car. But somehow it's ok on TV because...why exactly?

Watching a war unfold on television in near real time is beyond creepy. It is obscene. You watch people screaming over their dead loved ones, and then you turn it off and go have dinner, or go to bed? No empathy, no revulsion. What the hell kind of civilization is this?

You know, I watched some 9-11 footage on youtube the other day (because I'm a masochist, apparently), and it occured to me that in the 6 years since it happened, I've never once heard anyone say "I'm sorry for those people who are so consumed by hate for people they've never met and places they've never been. What can we do to lift that burden from them?"

Because that isn't cool. That's being a pussy (or a fag if you are on FreeRepublic). There's no posture to be struck there, no pose. It's something that has to be done in earnest, and that's what's been lacking in the American culture.

Think about the Pope, entering the cell to confront his assassin. He forgave him, we all know that. But can you imagine the conversation? Can you imagine either someone being so perceptive that they can reach into a perfect stranger and expose their soul, or someone whose personality is so shallow that their emotions or ideologies are so shallow that any attempt to probe their depth displaces them entirely?

Mr. Rogers may have been the last earnest man.
I'm going to catch "Won't You Be My Neighbor" in the theatre near me less than an hour. Can't wait ...
posted by New Frontier at 2:28 PM on June 8 [36 favorites]


Fred really cared about the kids. All kids.
posted by Sphinx at 2:31 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Okay, transcribing the tweet in infinitewindow's link for those who don't subscribe, because it's wonderful. Posted by sportswriter and editor Jason Langendorf, titled "Fred Rogers was and is my jam," it's an excerpt from Mel Magazine's interview with Morgan Neville, the director of Won't You Be My Neighbor?

[Interviewer Tim Grierson:] The documentary really flies along -- it's only about 90 minutes. Were there things that, because of time or pacing, you decided to cut out that you think also inform who this man was?

[Morgan Neville:] There's one detail that I really liked that's not in the film, which is he felt like the shows should be evergreen. As he often said, the outside world of the child changes, but the inside of the child never changes. So he thought his shows should play the same to two-year-olds now or 20 years ago. But as the years would go on, he would find things that had happened in old episodes that didn't feel current, where maybe he used a pronoun "he" instead of "they" -- or he met a woman and presumed that she was a housewife. So he would put on the same clothes and go back and shoot inserts and fix old episodes so that they felt as current as possible, so that he could stand by them 100 percent. I've never heard of that happening -- it's kind of amazing.

posted by Iris Gambol at 2:36 PM on June 8 [53 favorites]


I just watched his 2002 Dartmouth commencement address on youtube. No matter what he is doing, that man still has the ability to bring out the best in me.
posted by 4ster at 2:51 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Can we please.... he was and is a remarkable man, but he did all that he did so that WE could be better. I hear all these accolades, always the accolades and tears, but -- can each of us say one thing we do differently, or with conscious effort, because of Fred Rogers?

I'll go first: because of Fred Rogers, I spend a lot of time thinking about what exact words I'll use when I have to say something disapproving to people. Sometimes I will call a friend and practice my words first, so I can find language that is careful and encouraging and upholds the dignity of the person I am talking to.

That's because of Fred Rogers.
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:36 PM on June 8 [33 favorites]


I wear a lot of cardigans.

(Because of Mr. Rogers I also have a huge admiration for people who are earnest and kind and because of it I consciously try to drop the cynicism I have and appreciate people who embody that same spirit and attempt to emulate it in my own life.)
posted by elsietheeel at 3:42 PM on June 8 [19 favorites]


Yay, elsietheeel! Dropping the cynism is a WONDERFUL gift to everyone you encounter! I bet that makes people you meet feel safer to showing you their more uncommon joys!
posted by Silvery Fish at 3:49 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


I think the dropping of cynicism is a big thing that I'm trying to work toward. And it is tough, cause I can be very very cynical. But, thanks to Fred and a lot of what I've read here on the blue about him and remembering how I felt when I watched him as a kid, I'm trying cut cynicism out of my life...or at least whittle it down a bit...and be more earnest and understanding.
posted by snwod at 4:16 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


Not long ago, I was feeling especially down, so I put on Mr. Rogers in the background while I played a simple video game. And I really did feel better. I was even strangely invested in it (was King Friday going to buy that plane he didn't need or not?)

Hedda Sharapan, one of the staff members at Fred Rogers’s production company, Family Communications, Inc., recalls Rogers once halted taping of a show when a cast member told the puppet Henrietta Pussycat not to cry; he interrupted shooting to make it clear that his show would never suggest to children that they not cry.

This is so lovely. Even well-meaning, comforting caregivers will tell children this. I would not really have expected even Mr. Rogers to have caught this detail back in the day, but I can see that he did his homework and kept doing it.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:21 PM on June 8 [18 favorites]


So he would put on the same clothes and go back and shoot inserts and fix old episodes so that they felt as current as possible, so that he could stand by them 100 percent. I've never heard of that happening -- it's kind of amazing.

man I knew I remembered Mr. Rogers shooting first
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:24 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


I got tickets for the film next week but my SO is not American and didn't grow up with Mister Rogers. I'm thinking about taking someone else to cry with me.
posted by k8t at 4:31 PM on June 8 [3 favorites]


One Sunday when Fred was a seminarian, he and a friend went to visit a local church with a pastor who was well-known for his sermons. Fred was just out of his first homiletics class, a newly-minted expert on sermoncraft, and was anxious to watch the master work. Unfortunately, when they got there they found that the pastor was away, and a supply preacher was filling in for him. The man was an ancient retired minister, and he gave the worst sermon Fred had ever heard in his life. It was filled with bad exegesis, lengthy, meandering, unfocused. He sat in the pew going down a mental checklist of everything this man was doing wrong.

And then, finally, mercifully, the sermon came to an end and Fred turned to his friend to mutter "Thank God that's over." But then he saw that she had tears in her eyes, and she whispered, "That was exactly what I needed to hear." Fred realized, he'd say later, that the Holy Spirit had been speaking and he'd missed out because he failed to listen. From then on, he trained himself to be absolutely present with every person he met, to always be listening, to assume that God might have something to say to him from anyone, no matter who they were. And to always be mindful that God might have something to say through him. Every single time he went on camera, he'd pray first, asking the Spirit to speak to children through him.

That's the way I aspire to be in the world with other people. I'm not very good at it, and I'll never be the kind of saint Fred was, not this side of death. But his example helps me, every day.
posted by EarBucket at 4:33 PM on June 8 [65 favorites]


@snwod, dropping cynicism IS hard. It's made doubly hard becuase the majority of 'humor' we encounter in all media is the snarky one-liner cynical riposte. You have to kind of re-make yourself from the heart outward. But it is grat work that you're doing!
posted by Silvery Fish at 4:40 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


@EarBucket -- you chose such a difficult task for yourself! Even if you only manage it 70% of the time, I bet you make a remarkable difference in so many lives. Please keep at it -- the world needs your kind and attentive care!
posted by Silvery Fish at 4:42 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


My favourite Mr. Rogers detail is something that my partner told me about. At one point, he got a letter from a concerned blind child who tuned into his show. They were very worried about his fish, because even though he fed the fish in every episode he wouldn't always say out loud that he was doing it. For every episode after he got that letter, he made sure to specifically say that it was time to feed the fish before he walked over and fed them.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:09 PM on June 8 [20 favorites]


My young son and I sat cross legged on the floor and watched Fred regularly over 30 years ago. We were both enchanted by the Freddish...
posted by jim in austin at 5:52 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


A Gay Castmember Tested the Limits of Mr. Rogers's 'I Like You Just the Way You Are' Philosophy

Read to the end. It's not that long. Just... read it to the end, please.
posted by hippybear at 7:01 PM on June 8 [28 favorites]


Can we please.... he was and is a remarkable man, but he did all that he did so that WE could be better. I hear all these accolades, always the accolades and tears, but -- can each of us say one thing we do differently, or with conscious effort, because of Fred Rogers?

I make a conscious effort to practice kindness and speak mindfully.

When the Mr. Rogers Funko Pop came out, the only other one I had was Samwise Gamgee. And I decided I was going to curate a collection of figures that inspire me and remind me to be my best self. I want to be a good neighbor to this world.
posted by Ruki at 7:12 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


Because of Fred Rogers, and specifically because I learned through metafilter that he meant as much to others as he did to me, I have for a few years now been making a conscious effort to think before I speak, in order to speak with more empathy. It goes without saying that I'm not successful at this all the time. But in the past it never occurred to me to try.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:21 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I can't say one single thing that I do differently because of Fred Rogers. I _can_ tell you that I grew up with Fred telling me that the world was one way, and that as I've gotten older and have had to learn that it isn't really that way, it's hurt a lot.

I approach the world in a way that Fred Rogers taught me to. I do it imperfectly but it's a foundational part of my entire being. I was born in 68, the same year his nationwide tv program debuted. He's been around literally my entire life.

90 gazillion people I come into contact with every day, either up close and personal or at a distance just seeing them walk on the street... and while occasionally I encounter kindness, all the random acts of selfish and cruelty I see being enacted all the time... I don't understand them.

That's not what Fred talked about. He talked about being kind and considerate and taking time and taking care and thinking of others. I don't see that much in the world, but I do try to live those values. A single thing I do differently? Differently from what? Fred taught me all my life, and so there was no previous behavior to change away from.

The World According To Mister Rogers is a book that my mother has sent me twice (so far) as a gift. I didn't mention the repeat gift when the second one arrived, because Fred would have not wanted me to make another person feel embarrassed or uncomfortable like that.

I mean, it's hard to explain. But for me, it's easy to understand.
posted by hippybear at 7:23 PM on June 8 [11 favorites]


Actually, at its core, now that I think about it... a central tenet of Rogers' philosophy is this: Life is not a competition against others; it is integration with others.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 PM on June 8 [14 favorites]


Me: the recipe says to cook it for an hour.
My toddler: the recipe can't say anything, it doesn't have a mouth!

As if I didn't love Mr Rogers enough already...
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:56 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Life is not a competition against others; it is integration with others.

I really wish people would get that and take it to heart.

Especially when driving, it seems a lot of people have to compete. They have to be first. They have to be faster than you. They have to rush to the red light first so they can hit their brakes harder and wait longer. They have to whip around you to be in front, so they can then stop and make a left turn in front of you. They have to (in some cases) have the biggest, loudest, tallest, most macho and most polluting truck.

There's a basic failure of courtesy there, of caring about being a good member of human society. And it bugs me, because I'm the sort of sensitive person who doesn't understand that mindset and who it's trendy to mock for actually caring about things. Not as much as more serious concerns bug me, but this particular camel's back has got a shit-ton of straw already on it in 2018, and the little things do matter.
posted by Foosnark at 8:37 PM on June 8 [10 favorites]


Anyone who started to read the brief-but-excellent article hippybear linked to but didn’t read it *to the end*, please go back and read it *to the end*. If you don’t, you risk doing yourself and those you discuss Mr Rogers with a huge disservice.

I’d quote it here but that’d ruin it.

The comments are, on average, better than one might expect and a few make some well-considered points about the comparison of past and present social attitudes.
posted by Lesser Spotted Potoroo at 9:22 PM on June 8 [4 favorites]


Even when I wasn't sure my own parents loved me or thought I had anything to offer, I knew Mr. Rogers did, even though we never met. I always try to let people know they're special.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:40 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I approach the world in a way that Fred Rogers taught me to. I do it imperfectly but it's a foundational part of my entire being. I was born in 68, the same year his nationwide tv program debuted. He's been around literally my entire life.

We are about the same age, and you speak to my experience, too, to a large degree. Even at our age, I am still sometimes wounded by the casual cruelty of the world. And yet, here at this time of my life, I have miraculously landed in a soft pillow of a place, in a community that values and exercises counscious kindness of words and intentions. A whole gobsmack group of us, living these values, imperfectly but earnestly.

I grew up with Rogers, and the neat thing is, his body of work was there when I hit my twenties, and at a place to make choices about how I was going to be in the world. And again a few years later, when I was suddenly pregnant and alone. And, it seems, about every decade, when the spiral of my moral coil seemly comes back around to re-decide who I want to be in this world.

Hippybear, if we were in the same place, I would give you a huge, long hug and look you in the eyes qnd maybe lean against you, shoulder to shoulder; we the first orphans of the Neighborhood, out in a harder world than we were prepared for. And I'd tell you that you're going to be ok, because I will be your buddy out here, for as long as is needed.
posted by Silvery Fish at 9:57 PM on June 8 [7 favorites]


Silvery Fish: OMG the dust in here is suddenly unbearable, but damn, yes.

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
posted by hippybear at 10:15 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


A few things.. Mr. Rogers to me has always been such a paragon of how to be that I do continuously fret the theoretical "outing" of him as flaws (but given how many years the Internet has had to do it's worst, I think we're safe). The other is I know it's because of Mr. Rogers and not because of my Catholic upbringing, etc that I, especially as an atheist, say that my beliefs are driven by kindness. I think that's the thing I took away from him after all these years, the world is difficult, let's do our best to obviate that.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:19 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I'm not a Deadhead at all, but one of the standout lyrics from any of their more famous songs is "what I want to know is, are you kind?".
posted by hippybear at 10:23 PM on June 8 [5 favorites]


(and tbh, the rest of that song is pretty great all along, and perhaps is very Rogers in its philosophy.
posted by hippybear at 10:24 PM on June 8


I saw Won't You Be My Neighbour last night.

I expected a lot of crying. There was a lot of crying.


It's a wonderful documentary. Although its runtime (93 minutes) is relatively short, I suggest you have ample Kleenex on hand as you may find yourself reaching for them continuously from about the 35-minute mark through to the completion of the closing credits.

Tom Junod, writer of the celebrated Esquire profile of Fred Rogers that serves as the basis for an upcoming biopic starring Tom Hanks, is among those interviewed.

In the course of writing his piece, Junod became a friend of Rogers and that friendship continued until Rogers' death in late February 2003.

In one of the movie's many poignant moments, Junod talks about attending the memorial service for Rogers, held at Pittsburgh's Heinz Hall a little over two months following Rogers' passing. Outside, picketing the service, were members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, whose leader, Fred Phelps, claimed that Rogers had been condemned to Hell for, among other things, his tolerance of gays. Members were carrying placards with various vile slogans denouncing gays and praising divine killings. Some members brought their young children along and were making them hoist placards. Junod approached the protesters and noticed that the children were fatigued, thirsty, confused about why they were there – and frightened.

Junod says that if Fred Rogers could have miraculously materialized that day, the first thing he would have done would have been to make a beeline to that protest to comfort those children.

Comfort them.

Tom Junod truly got Fred Rogers.
posted by New Frontier at 11:38 PM on June 8 [8 favorites]


Reading this thread makes me wish I had a Mr. Rogers growing up.
posted by Pendragon at 1:42 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


used a pronoun "he" instead of "they"

Next time someone gives me a hard time about singular they, I’m skipping Shakespeare and Austen and going straight to “Well, Mr. Rogers went out of his way to use it, soooo.”
posted by No-sword at 1:56 AM on June 9 [11 favorites]


@k8t mentioned a concern about taking their SO to see the film because of them not growing up with Mr Rogers. I'm not American and I hadn't heard of him until relatively recently. Please don't think that because we didn't grow up with his show (I've seen maybe half an hour of it) that people from outside the US won't be sharing in your crying. We absolutely will. Fred Rogers was an amazing person and you don't need to have grown up watching his show to appreciate that.

In the UK we didn't have a single person who was everything Mr Rogers was, but we did have shows like Blue Peter, Play School and plenty more which embodied the same kind of values. The warm, safe feeling that mention of Fred Rogers seems to engender in people who grew up with Neighbourhood definitely happens to those of us who didn't as well!

Take your SO. They might not have heard of Fred Rogers but they'll still recognise him and love him. Take extra tissues.
posted by auntie-matter at 4:23 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


A few things.. Mr. Rogers to me has always been such a paragon of how to be that I do continuously fret the theoretical "outing" of him as flaws (but given how many years the Internet has had to do it's worst, I think we're safe).

I've lived here in Pittsburgh for 30 years and have never heard a bad word about him.
I actually know a few people who worked for WQED when the show was in production and have no bad stories.

A teacher of mine actually has some of his photos of Fred in the movie from when he worked as a photographer for Pittsburgh Magazine which was owned by 'QED at the time.
posted by octothorpe at 5:15 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Can we please.... he was and is a remarkable man, but he did all that he did so that WE could be better. I hear all these accolades, always the accolades and tears, but -- can each of us say one thing we do differently, or with conscious effort, because of Fred Rogers?

I find myself, at least once or twice a day, asking myself "What Would Mr. Rogers Do?" in response to something, where my natural response would be to react angrily, with pettiness, etc. I was brought up in a very "don't get mad, get even" way, and this is very much not my nature.

But, I'm trying. I doubt I'll ever, ever be in the same league as Fred Rogers, but I do try every day to chip away at my default way of reacting and instead reacting with kindness, empathy, understanding, and generosity even - maybe especially - in situations where I don't feel the other person deserves it.

This doesn't mean I wouldn't punch Richard Spencer in the face given the chance, but I really am trying to live more by WWMRD.
posted by jzb at 6:28 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


This doesn't mean I wouldn't punch Richard Spencer in the face given the chance, but I really am trying to live more by WWMRD.

I'm sure even Fred Rogers had his limits.

But you know, all this casual cruelty, I think about how much it would pain him. When fighting the good fight gets me down, I watch Mr Rogers clips on YouTube because there is nothing more soothing than that man's voice and he reminds me of the world I'm fighting to see. You all get it.

Also, I will never not be fascinated at how crayons are made.
posted by Ruki at 8:12 AM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Can someone please make a good, high-res image of Mr. Rogers in the style of that Sheperd Fairy print, over the word KIND? I would print out one for work and another for home.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:27 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


hippybear: "I'm not a Deadhead at all, but one of the standout lyrics from any of their more famous songs is "what I want to know is, are you kind?"."

I've always read that as "are you (our) kind?" meaning "are you one of us or one of them?" but I like your interpretation better.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


we the first orphans of the Neighborhood, out in a harder world than we were prepared for. It is a testament to the man that we don't hate him for that.

I don't know what I do that makes me a better person for having internalized some of Mr Rogers Neighborhood but I do know what I have internalized: the first thing I do when I step through my door is take off my "out of the house" clothes and put on my "in the house" clothes and my parents never scoffed at or laughed at Mr Rogers when we watched it although sometimes they rolled their eyes at other kids' shows.
posted by crush at 1:58 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Mr. Rogers might not have punched any Nazis, but he sure as hell sued the Klan.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:53 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


He was one of the reasons why, someday, we might have nice things.
posted by Chitownfats at 3:33 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I saw someone say on Twitter once, “You’re not being the person Mister Rogers thought you could be,” and at first I thought that was a sick burn. But the more I think about, the more it turns into a mantra: “Be the person Mister Rogers thought you could be.”
posted by gc at 8:30 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


gc: But the more I think about, the more it turns into a mantra: “Be the person Mister Rogers thought you could be.”

Hah! That's my email .sig!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:40 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I went exploring a bit more following a link to the Fred Rogers center, and discovered this tidbit -

Dude had so many honorary degrees from so many universities that he made two quilts out of the hoods he wore each time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:29 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


When I was a kid, old enough to write a semi-sensible letter, whatever age that is for kids, I wrote one to Mr. Rogers. It was the pre-Personal Computer era, so letter writing and the (corded) telephone were how we all communicated. I wish I could remember what I wrote to him about, I'm sure it was about what parts of the show I liked and probably smattered with questions about how the show worked, I'm still inquisitive like that 3 decades later. But it's only guesses at what I might have wrote, faint memories of something sealed off and entrusted to the USPS with my full expectation, I'm sure, that I would be watching Mr. McFwely deliver it to him in a future show.

He wrote back. In an era where the proliferated Xerox machines were long-since common place, adult me reflects on how many hours of this hard working man's life would have been saved by a form letter copied off and signed by him, or better yet stamped with an imprint of his signature. Instead I got a letter specifically responding to my inquiries, thanking me for writing, and encouraging me to keep asking questions in life. And a hand-signed 8.5x11 glossy to go with it.

Sure, maybe he had people helping to personally respond to the enormous amounts of mail they were getting from little kids, even if I like to picture him personally responding to my letter. But even thinking about something that thoughtful and caring - actually paying staff to care that well for his youngling audience - that was a rare thing indeed in our modern, profit-driven world and I'm just so incredibly thankful I got to be alive for a little bit of the same time that he was, and that we actually corresponded.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:13 PM on June 12 [7 favorites]


NY Post shares this beautiful story of Mr. Rogers visiting a 7 year old girl who had brain surgery, and their ongoing connection. (Video link)
posted by anastasiav at 6:14 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Sure, maybe he had people helping to personally respond to the enormous amounts of mail they were getting from little kids

According to everything I've read online, Mr. Rogers personally read and responded to every fan letter he received.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:05 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I was glad to have little brothers that I could still enjoy watching Mr. Rodgers as I grew older. My mother loved him; she always said Mr. Rodgers would calm us kids down for when my dad got home from work and we could have a nice relaxing dinner.

I think a lesson I learned from Mr. Rodgers is that it was ok to be creative and different from others. I loved making up stories and playing make-believe and didn't give a hoot what other kids said about me. Well, no, that's not true, I was a kid. It bothered me a lot that I got teased - BUT - I never stopped doing it.

Even though I teach high school now, there is a lot in the Freddish rules that I would like to put into practice when speaking with my students, thanks for the post.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:32 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]


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