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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood . . .

Doing some channel surfing recently and, several times, have come across the late Fred Rogers, he of the kiddie tv show on PBS.

I'm not sure my kids watched Mr. Rogers all that much when they were growing up. I don't think I've ever watched one of his shows from beginning to end . . . but I've caught snippets here and there. I remember thinking, "What a genuine man this guy is. What a kind, gentle person. What a communicator to kids." Clearly, he cared about kids and did not talk down to them. His videos of visits to factories, to see how things were made, his visiting "guests," artists, musicians, etc., were informative and educational. (Though I didn't care much for his puppet shows with the King and his castle. That's when I would hit the remote and move to another channel).

I remember having a deep sense of loss when he died. I really liked the guy. Still do.

What got me to thinking about him again was, again, channel surfing this afternoon between football games. PBS had a special program called "Speedy Delivery," which focused on Mr. McFeeley (I believe his name was. I believe I read somewhere that Mr. McFeeley was named after Fred Rogers' father-in-law). He was also known as "Speedy Delivery," and it became his catch phrase.)
I think his real name is David Newell.

I just caught bits and pieces of it but found it to be quite interesting, this chronicle of who Mr. McFeeley really was and how it all came to be.

This was a another very kind and gentle soul who clearly loved kids and loved his job of communicating with kids. The interaction between Mr. McFeeley and Fred Rogers was genuine. There was a warm bond of friendship there, both in-character and off screen.

I wonder how many children from our era watched Mr. Rogers . . . and genuinely cared about him, every bit as much as Big Bird and the Cookie Monster.

I hope television will continue to find time and space for the kind and gentle souls like Fred Rogers and Mr. McFeeley.

We need more folks like this and less of the rabble-rousers and negative people.

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