Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was my favorite show when I was little. I loved it more than Sesame Street, more than the Electric Company, more than the Magic Garden and more than cartoons. I don’t know why I loved it so much exactly, but it permanently imprinted in my brain much deeper than all the other children’s shows.
I remember watching Mister Rogers change his shoes and his sweater, I remember meeting the people in the neighborhood and most of all, I remember the trolley and the Neighborhood of Make Believe. Henrietta Pussycat was my personal favorite. Isn’t it crazy to think that we developed this much love for a show without any merchandise? There were no King Friday figurines or Neighborhood of Make Believe play sets. We just watched, felt comforted and LOVED it.
Feeling comforted is the thing about Mister Rogers. The world is a big place, especially to a little kid, and he made us feel like it wasn’t so scary. He was a grown man talking to us like we were on his level, even about tough subjects like death and divorce. He taught us that we were worthy of love and how to love back. He told us we were special, and we believed it.
There is a new Fred Rogers documentary coming out called “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and it seems almost like the perfect antidote to our present day crisis. Just the sound of his voice in the trailer moved me to tears, but coupled with the message of kindness and inclusivity, it made me realize how desperately this world needs Mister Rogers back in our lives.
Being a “good neighbor” seemed like such a simple concept to me as a kid, but now I know that it wasn’t that simple of a concept when Fred Rogers started his show. And it’s certainly not that simple now. Looking back on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, you realize that through children, he was trying to create a better, kinder world of grown-ups.
I hope this nasty hiccup in our history will give way to his true legacy.
What is your favorite Mister Rogers memory?