i remember afterschool i discovered if i ran out right after dismissal and didn't talk to anyone i could usually make it out of the parking lot and to the corner just in time for the light and get on the interstate, placing me in front of the TV just in time for mr. rogers' neighborhood.
if you are confused because it sounds like i was old enough to drive, that's ok. my true love affair with fred (i'm old enough to call him fred now) and his show began october 6, 1981.
i was home sick from school, the kind of sick where you have the tv on but if you get stuck with a bad channel, you're maybe not well enough to get up to change it and it was before we had any such thing as a remote in our house.
so i was watching tv when the first footage of the sadat assassination came fresh into the news rooms and in a hurry to get the scoop, every channel put it right on the air without even looking at it.
it only played once in that raw unedited form.
it was carnage. and it was on every channel. a little later when i was able to get up and lay just under the tv, turning through the channels looking for something i could watch, there were channels that kept playing the (now edited) footage and channels that had on other programs, but i noticed that every show- every. damn. show. - was either full of violence or unkindness or fun at someone else's expense and then i got to the channel where fred was putting on his sweater and he was that day the single voice in the wilderness, asking us to be better people than that.
telling us that we were fine the way we were.
when i was in college i found i had friends who loved fred for the same reasons i did (maybe minus the story about the assassination) and we often left our 2:00 class as soon as we could because that gave us eight minutes to run across the quad to watch fred on tv.
and i remember a party at which someone appeared in a slinky black dress reclining on the piano (we were music majors) to sing it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood as a torch song. you don't even have to change the words. it works fine just like that. sing it breathless, with a few appropriate pauses.
i have always wanted to have a neighbor
just like you
i've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you
let's make the most of this beautiful day
since we're together, we might as well say
|it's a beautiful day in my neighborhood. yes, this is my neighborhood.|
could you be mine?
won't you be
in the late 80's my dad ran into fred on a beach and told him that his two daughters were very big fans, but my dad for some reason didn't tell fred that his two daughters were 18 and 21 years old.
but he said he hoped it was a beautiful day in our neighborhood wherever we were.
and you know, fred? it is.
getting to know mister rogers
mister rogers and me
best acceptance speech ever