Thursday, February 27, 2003

Better Fred Than Dead
Fred McFeely Rogers died today, becoming a full-time resident of the Land of Make Believe. His TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, played a large role in the formative years of my life, and I have many fond childhood memories of Mr. Rogers.

I used to sit on my mom's lap -- or beside her, when I was small enough -- in my dad's recliner watching Mr. Rogers on the local PBS affiliate. I have several Mr. Rogers records, which remain prized possessions because of their mix of gentle homily, slightly out-of-tune singing, and extensive liner notes, lyrics, and positive messages for children.

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was my show, loved more than Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo, the Electric Company, or 3-2-1 Contact. My mother and I wrote a letter of protest to a local TV station when Captain Kangaroo was going to be canceled. They kept the show on the air, and I received a letter of thanks from the Captain. That, too, remains a prized possession.

I would have saved Mr. Rogers from stomach cancer if I could have. He was a gift to children, and every time I put on a cardigan sweater or change out of my boots into my Vans at work, I feel like Mr. Rogers. What are we to do? Thanks to PBS, we can listen to some of the songs sung on the show. And thanks to TV Barn, we can read a poetic memorial to the man's life and work.

I'll miss you, Mr. Rogers. Thanks for helping make me who I am today.

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