It’s hard to write about Mr. Rogers without feeling melodramatic or schmaltzy, but it’s not worth just keeping to myself. I sat in a waiting area while CBC Radio 2 played as usual before my appointment. The DJ talked about a song released as a tribute and began to play the song. In the space of a few minutes, I found myself back in front of a the television set at my grandma’s house watching Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood with Mr. McFeely’s deliveries, Trolley come in before heading out to the Kingdom of Make Believe under the rule of King Friday the Thirteenth.
In Fred Rogers program kids felt treated with respect and kindness. His encourage felt authentic as opposed to the rah-rah kind of self-esteem adults pour over children. Rogers believed in imagination, believed in kindness and compassion, and in the potential of each child. Perhaps it came as no surprise the video for the song Garden of Your Mind went viral to cause adults to remember and introduce Mr. Rogers to a new generation.
For something a little less auto tuned, one of my favourite moments came from the 1997 Daytime Emmys to accept a lifetime achievement award. Rogers’ speech was short and again focused not on his achievements, but on others. It’s interesting to see a room full of day time actors take on a child-like look to their faces as he spoke: