Won’t you be my neighbor?
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who liked playing outside, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. She loved when Mister Rogers visited the land of make-believe and when he took her on tours of factories and explained how things worked. But most of all, she loved when Mister Rogers changed his sweater and his shoes. If you asked her why she loved it, she probably wouldn’t be able to tell you. She just did.
“Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod captures the minimalistic beauty of Fred Rogers and his outlook on life. Even though I haven’t watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in years and Mister Rogers died when I was 12, reading this article made memories from my childhood come rushing back.
Junod’s writing style perfectly echos the simplistic language in which Mister Rogers communicated, without seeming condescending. Furthermore, Junod depicts Mister Rogers as more than just the man who talked to kids on television. The eager, friendly, happy man everyone loved watching in half-hour increments translated into the personality of the man who stopped to talk to strangers, prayed with those in need and always had time for his abundant fans.
When I was little, I always assumed Mister Rogers was as nice in real life as he seemed on television. Then again, I assumed (probably incorrectly, in many cases) that about a lot of people on TV shows. But after reading Junod’s article, I breathed a sigh of relief, because it seems like this naive childhood assumption turned out to be true.
Once upon a time, there was a not-so-little girl who read a touching, inspirational article profiling Mister Rogers. She remembered all the good times she spent watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a little girl. And reading this article brought her happiness, just like Mister Rogers always did.