It's A Terrible Day In The Neighborhood, A Heartbreaking Day In The Neighborhood...
Published at: Feb. 27, 2003, 4:56 a.m. CST by staff
Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
Fred Rogers was one of TV’s quietest, most sincere heroes. His passing means one more piece of my childhood is gone for good now, and I don’t think there’s anyone working in children’s programming today who has anything like the generous soul that made Mr. Rogers such a staple of PBS for more than three decades.
Harry Lime, my co-writer, is going to be devastated tomorrow when he hears about this. He grew up in Pittsburgh, and he has distinct memories of meeting Fred Rogers and seeing the puppets from the Land of Make-Believe up close. Rogers produced the show from the studios at WQED from 1968 to 2000, and that entire time, the vibe of the show barely changed at all. Instead of trying to reflect the constantly shifting real world around us, Rogers created a place where it was always very much the same... where things were quiet and people were friendly and where imagination was the best way to spend an afternoon. Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister, but his show never felt preachy or heavy-handed. He didn’t seem to have an agenda any more complicated than loving oneself and respecting others. It sounds simple, even dull, but his sincerity always kept it interesting for new generations of children.
Even when people made sport of Rogers, like Eddie Murphy did so famously on SNL with “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood,” it never felt mean-spirited. They always managed to capture his infallible good humor and enthusiasm for whatever he was discussing. One of his red sweaters hangs at the Smithsonian, but here’s hoping the real solace that his family has today is the knowledge that several generations of children grew up believing in the decency and the generosity of heart that his show always embodied, and that even without his show, his lessons will no doubt survive to be handed on when we have children of our own.