Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love To Fred

Mister Rogers would have been eighty five years old today. Ever since I was a kidlet, I've had a deep affinity for him. He was one of the kindest, gentlest and most earnest men that has ever walked this Earth as far as I'm concerned and I often kick myself for never writing him that letter that I'd meant to write. I wish that I'd taken the time to tell him how amazing he was. In most cases, we would probably consider writing to a celebrity as a thankless task but I'd bet dollars to donuts that Fred would have been one of those people who would have actually read the letter and taken the time to write back.

A lot of times, people make fun of him and his quiet demeanor and I have to admit that it gets my dander up. He was very passionate and philanthropic and you know what? I don't think that you have to be loud and brash to be that way. You can witness this here in his 1969 speech to the United States Senate in the hopes of securing funding for the Corporation For Public Broadcasting when those funds were under threat due to a proposed bill by President Nixon.



See what I'm saying? He was like a quiet storm. Many years ago when I worked a particularly stressful job as an office manager, I'd go home on my lunch breaks. I lived about five minutes away from the office and always got home in time to flip on PBS and watch Mister Rogers' show. I know that it sounds silly - a grown woman popping a squat with a sandwich and Mister Rogers every day - but the act of doing so always calmed me. I could leave the office for lunch and feel frazzled and many days angry at how I'd been treated by one of my managers - sometimes on the verge of quitting my job - and then I'd sit down with Mister Rogers and his peaceful, peace loving demeanor and his neighborhood cast of characters and before long, I felt like I'd just been on vacation. No joke. I'd go back to work in a complete zen state.

Besides the kindness that practically oozed out of his pores, I love that Fred always loved learning new things and sharing them with his audience. I love the little field trips that he'd take us all on - sometimes to factories and sometimes to the imaginary shops in the "Neighborhood". As an adult watching the show now, I can't help but giggle a little at how fake the shops and the neighborhood look. They seem as if a stiff wind would knock them down, revealing the studio where the show was filmed. As a kid I never noticed one inch of that. I was too transfixed on Mister Rogers and practically hypnotized by his honesty and the overwhelming feeling that he actually cared about me although we'd never met.

He always tried to stay relevant to whichever generation of children was watching his show at the time.  When you figure that he did the show for over three decades, that's no easy feat! Here he is taking part in some breakdancing with a great young dancer named Jermaine:



See how he seemed so enthused to not only learn Jermaine's moves but to also encourage him? You could almost see him fighting back the urge to jump off of those steps and start cheering as the boy set that cardboard on fire.

He was a truly beautiful man and I hope that his show is on reruns until the end of time. I know that he wouldn't be every kid's cup of tea. Kids these days are used to so much whiplash action in the media that they view - even on their educational shows - but I know that there would still be some kids that would latch on to Mister Rogers like I did and feel companionship on days when they feel all alone. Or confirmation that feelings are okay on days when they don't understand the range of emotions that a growing child's hormones can bring.  Children are often taught to control their emotions and they get buried deeper and deeper as they age, turning them into adults who can't handle anger or sorrow or any of the entire cast of emotions that this world brings. I hope that there is always a brief respite in each day where a child (or frazzled adult) can turn on the TV and be immersed in a world where it's okay to show emotion and wonder and compassion.

If not on all days but just for today, let's all ask ourselves "What Would Fred Do?" as we go about our daily routines. Let's temper our anger with understanding and squelch our adult-like apathy with childlike wonder. Say nice words to someone that we love or better yet, a complete stranger. Think before we speak. Heal before we hurt. Practice love before we allow hatred to spread. Realize that even though we don't have talking cats living in trees and chirping trolleys running through our days, we still all live in the same big "neighborhood".

Today, I have a Mister Rogers record playing and the final cut on the record seems silly and sing-song at first but I think that the last two lines span all ages and peoples and speak to a timeless desire that we've never truly been able to make a reality.


Peace and quiet.
Peace, peace, peace.

Peace and quiet.
Peace, peace, peace.

Peace and quiet.
Peace, peace, peace.

We all want peace.
We all want peace. 

It's interesting that if you ask most people, they would say that they want a world of peace and love but for the most part, it's always out of our grasp. It seems that if we could all view this vast world that we live in as a mere "neighborhood" and not as an enormous planet where small actions don't have ripple effects we'd be so much better off. What if we thought of every other person on this planet as our next door neighbors - as if we'd have to face them each day when we stand in our driveway and watch their children play in the yard? Would we make better and kinder decisions?

It's always been confounding to me that there are so many wars and so much sadness - and an utter lack of understanding for the fellow man and woman when in essence, we all want the very same things. We merely want peace and love for ourselves and for our children. Sometimes, there seems like there is a huge divide but in the end, we're all the same. It's hard to comprehend why we often feel so divided when at the core, we all want the very same things.

Let's do our part. To make that easier we must only ask ourselves "What would Fred Do?"





Until next time,
x's and o's,
Eartha





24 comments:

Hello Jodi said...

I wrote a letter to him telling him exactly how important he was to me and he wrote me back, personally! And sent a signed photo. He was such an amazing person.

Eartha Kitsch said...

Oh wow! That's so amazing! I'm so glad that you did that and would to see that letter. Very, very cool.

KIMMIE JONES said...

What a beautiful tribute. I nearly started crying about a month ago bc I was watching TV with my niece and noticed that there is a new animated show called Daniel Tiger's neighborhood. Fred's legacy lives on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaZ-OzrF-o4

Pat said...

Loved this post. Hope you have peace & quiet this afternoon.

Dana@Mid2Mod said...

He was an amazing man, and he made such a difference in the lives of so many children. A positive message is so important in the lives of young children, and he always provided one. I've seen children's shows that I think border on inappropriate, and I wonder why parents don't demand more shows like his.

Stacy @ Stacyverb said...

What a great tribute. All these years later, it's amazing how often something will come up that I remember learning about from Mister Rogers.

Rob and Monica said...

I loved Mr Rogers as a kid too. I was always rooting for him to teach Trolley to speak but alas...it was not to be. Nonetheless, Trolley's "toot toot" always sounded happy and i know Mr Rogers' friendship was the reason for those happy sounds! (Rob)

Jessica said...

After a long and upsetting day, I read this post and it totally turned it around. We all have a very deep need to feel understood and like you said - just listening to Mister Rogers makes you feel like someone gets you. It's not silly- it's human nature! Thank you for sharing!

JellyBones said...

Oh my gosh. I love Mr. Rogers doing the wave!!! Ah sigh....
Trish

www.jellybonesblog.blogspot.com

Dakota said...

Aww, this was an exceptionally lovely read! Thank you!! I may be an adult, but I still have my little ritual of watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood whenever I feel sad or out-of-sorts; so much wisdom and goodness radiates from that show!

Anonymous said...

YES!! There are few things more comforting than watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and listening to his peace-filled, gentle voice. He's written some great parenting books, too, which I tirelessly turn to for advice and inspiration when I need some extra encouragement with my kids. I think I will always ask myself "What Would Fred Do?" when I'm feeling less than peaceful. Thank you so much for this wonderful post.

-Jeannie

lynxymama said...

love this!!

Anonymous said...

NET : it has been more than 40 years since I last saw that video logo !!! Thank you --reader
PS : not a robot !

Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

I love you, Eartha. Thank you so much for linking to this video. Makes me teary. Can't believe I went through the day not knowing that it's the first day of spring and Mr. Rogers's birthday.

I wasn't much into Mr. Rogers as a kid, but I remember my mom talking about how much she appreciated him--how the half-hour he was on was her favorite half-hour of the whole day.

What a great picture of what it really means to be a man.

Tina Buttry said...

I love that! What would Fred do?

Mr. Rogers was very special to me growing up also. Thank you for reminding me of that!!!!

Mr. Tiny said...

BEAUTIFUL!!! You are definitely doing your part to be a good "neighbor." I loved Mr. Rogers too and forget how often the influence of his show directs my actions. Thanks!!!

Karen/Small Earth Vintage said...

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers, and loved him, and still love him. Thanks for sharing these videos. The breakdancing kid video is just the best.

Sara In AZ said...

Words to live by Ms. Eartha..."What would Fred do?" -words to live by!

Stephen Cowdery said...

I glimpsed him in an airport about 15 years ago- it was quite a thrill, even though it was my kids, not me, who grew up with him.

Rae - Say It Aint So said...

such a great tribute to a great man. i loooove that first video you posted. have you seen this amazing autotuned mr. rogers video PBS put out?
http://youtu.be/OFzXaFbxDcM
it made me cry the first time! i loved him as a kid too. my favorites were when he went to factories. i remember a roller skate one, and a bowling ball one. if we have kids, i'll get them to watch him, even if i have to buy box sets.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post about a lovely man. I didn't appreciate him when I was a child, but as a mom of two young boys, I sure do now. Thanks for sharing.

Jacob said...

He actually made a point to respond to every letter he ever received.

I just read a great article about him

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-moments-that-prove-mr.-rogers-was-greatest-american/

Lucky Charm Vintage said...

I really enjoyed this Eartha! I grew up with Mr. Rogers and I agree that he was a quiet, powerful force. I like the idea of a mid-day break with his calming, pleasant voice.

Greener Pastures--A City Girl Goes Country said...

He WAS a beautiful man.