Mr. Rogers, 1928-2003
We Lost a Good One.
28.2.2003 by The Angry Drunk
Sometimes, you've simply got to say what's on your mind...
Thursday morning, I turned on my television to my good friends at Fox News and was met by a startling and saddening revelation:
Mr. Rogers is dead.
I was immediately stirred from a groggy stupor to a quizzical and unbelieving stupor as I processed that proclamation. It would seem that the zippered cardigan-wearing chum succumbed to stomach cancer the other night. The news took a more surreal note as the family's spokesman delivered this information...it was Mr. McFeely.
I then began to remember the days at the Oak Park Church (where my earliest formal education began) when we would gather 'round the TV for the post-naptime viewing of Jim Henson's filthy puppets and my beloved Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. After the usual bumper telling us that the show was brought to us courtesy of WQED-Pittsburgh, that innocuous little jingle would begin as the camera panned into the little model neighborhood. It would slowly cross over the town and then focus on a little house at the end of a street - the Roger's abode. The view would shift to the interior and then the man would stride in - bedecked in a mighty fine tweed suit (complete with elbow pads) and begin crooning. (Now, let it be known that though Fred Rogers won 4 Emmys for the show and well as a Lifetime Achievement Award, he would never be a likely candidate for Grammy consideration. While singing, he'd then replace his suit coat with a swank red cardigan and to the verse of "let's make the most of this beau-ti-ful daaaay", off one loafer would come... "since we're together, we'd might as well saaay...", replaced with a rather comfortable looking Ked-type shoe. After changing into more comfortable attire, he'd say those words that we'd all come to know and cherish:
...and thus would begin our time with Fred. During these times, I'd often wonder about what our friendly neighbor did during his day after he chatted with us. Since the show was a scant half hour and since he always changed back into his more formal suit as the show was ending, I wondered if he was visiting us during his lunch break. I also mused about how he got around. Did he drive? I also would look at his house...and what a fine house it was! It had everything! He'd feed his fish (often as an afterthought), he'd tinker with the magic screen, he had a TRAFFIC SIGNAL...an astonishing arrangement.
One incident that I remember quite fondly was the traumatic incident involving the trolley and a little loss of innocence. One fine day - in 1981 - we were watching Fred visit with Mr. Speedy Delivery. With the requisite "speedeydelivery, speedydelivery..." the pseudo postman took off and Mr. Rogers was wondering what might be happening in the Land of Make-Believe. As per usual, he summoned the red trolley and sat down next to it for a chat. Well, as you know, that trolley always responded in a series of chimes, piano grooves, and by moving back and forth on its rail. On this day, the cameraman was well off his game. Much to my chagrin, the view of the scene was panned just far enough back to reveal that the reason the trolley moved at all (at least at the time) was due to a small switch on the little sitting bench that Fred would twitch while engage in conversation with the railcar. Needless to say, I was mortified and immediately declared the trolley a fraud (keep in mind, I actually exclaimed, "THE TROLLEY IS A FRAUD!" in 1981) and refused to watch the show for a month in fear of having other fantastic devices about the show revealed to be little more than the mundane.
It is a humorous tale to be sure, but one of many fond memories.
Lest we never forget the our childhood friends from the land of Make-Believe - King Friday, Daniel the Tiger, Lady Elaine, and yes, the Trolley. Mr. Rogers was one of a dwindling chorus of kind, gentle, and quieting - as well as educating - personalities on TV. Like many of you, I stopped watching long, long ago but anytime I found myself surfing channels I gave pause to the "Neighborhood" should it be on PBS. If only for a moment, I'd pay a silent tribute to the show - and the man - whom I remember fondly as being the balance to so much of the "filler" cartoons and other children's programming of the day.
I will personally miss Fred Rogers, and I truly hope that his legacy will spur others to follow his example in the future.
This is my old project, THROWDOWN.
A group of friends and I put together this little project in 2003 as an outlet of out collective rage and anger about the
subjects that each of us cared about. I was the editor-and-chief and games writer back then.
It was a blast to do and it to be involved in a great collaborative effort using the strengths of my friends was simply amazing. I hope you have fun reading our
work as much as we had in creating it.