10 Things You Never Knew About Mister Rogers

Today is what would have been Mister Rogers 84th birthday.

If you are one of the millions of children who grew up watching Mister Rogers, you know what a special person he was (and is).

Someone please tell me; Why is Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood labeled as a kid’s program? Do adults not see how beneficial these lessons can be?

Sometimes, when I am having a rough day, I pop over and watch an old episode. Mister Rogers always puts things in perspective. Somehow #snookiproblems don’t seem so important inside The Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

And sometimes, when I see or hear someone being nasty or acting like a meanie head (yes that’s a technical term) I try to think of what Mister Rogers would say or do in the same situation. Usually I think he would try to demonstrate some deeply profound act of kindness, then *take off his sweater and get the hellouttadodge.

*Did you ever notice that? Every episode started with him coming home and donning a sweater, but every episode ended with him taking the sweater off and leaving and singing It’s Such a Good Feeling. But why? It was his house. Where did he need to go? He was already home, no? This never made sense to me. I always wondered if there was a Mrs. Rogers. Did they have a dog. What did they eat? Why did Mr. McFeely bring letters but no electric bills? The world will never know :(

Anyway.

Familiar as he is to all of us, there was a lot more to him than what we saw on the show. For instance;

1. He saved public television. In 1969 Mister Rogers went to Washington to protest the slashing of funds to public television, and his testimony was so persuasive that funding was not only secured but increased to $22 million per year.

2. He was colorblind. Not just metaphorically, literally. He could not make out the colors in a box of crayons, which is rather sad when you consider that ridiculously awesome trip to the Crayola factory.

3. He was a song writer. Nearly all of the songs on Mister Rogers Neighborhood were composed by Mister Rogers on his famous piano, along with hundreds of others that were never heard on the show.

4. He was a Preacher Man. Mister Rogers graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1963.

5. He employed Batman. Michael Keaton, famous for playing Batman got his start in showbiz as a puppeteer and trolley operator on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

6. He instilled honor among thieves. Mister Rogers drove an old Impala for years until the car was stolen and the police report was picked up by the local news…48 hours later the car was returned with a note that read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”

7. He learned to golf with Arnold Palmer. Both natives of Latrobe, PA, Mister Rogers grew up taking lessons from professional golfer and country club grounds keeper, Deacon Palmer, along side Deacon’s son of the same age, Arnold.

8. He named his characters after family members. Lady Elaine (“the mischief maker”) was named for his younger sister Elaine, Mr. McFeeley the postman was named for his paternal grandfather Fred McFeeley, Queen Sara Saturday was named for his wife Sara Rogers, among others.

9. He was a Vegetarian. He told people “I don’t want to eat anything that has a mother.”

10. His Mama was crafty. Nearly all of Mister Rogers zip front cardigans were knitted by his mother, a “talented and resourceful” woman who took up knitting sweaters for injured soldiers in WWII.

Cool dude, huh?

Look, I’m not going to go on some big preachy binge here and say we should all be kinder to our neighbors, but I can tell you that I will be making a point to honor Mister Rogers by being the very best neighbor I can be. Today. I’m going to do something nice for someone who is least expecting it. I am going to show appreciation toward someone is usually overlooked. I am going put on a zippered cardigan, change into my tennis shoes and take a look around.

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

Happy Birthday Mister Rogers!

Come stop by my site to read the full post!

Comments

  1. Ellicia says

    Thank you for sharing all the pleasing bits of information about Mr. Rogers. May I be a good neighbor and share a book I love. It is “The World According to Mr. Rogers: Important Things to Remember”, a collection of his stories and wisdom. Reading a few of his insights before bed makes for peaceful sleep.

  2. Mary says

    thanks for the upbeat ending to my day. i cried while i watched his farewell, and i must have been well into my teens.

    i’m also willing to bet him leaving his house at the end was part of the greater metaphor. like “this is a half hour glimpse into my world, where we respect adults, and use manners, and can learn about different things together. but at the end, we will both leave this world together, and rejoin tomorrow.”

  3. Michelle says

    What a lovely post. In retirement, he and his wife attended our church. I saw a sweater I suspected might have been his at a church rummage sale and can you believe I did not BUY IT? I later saw one at the Smithsonian that did belong to him.. Doesn’t matter. His gentle spirit and lessons on humanity will long-outlive any sweater.

  4. says

    I LOVED Mister Rogers when I was a kid and the crayon factory was one of my favorite trips (that and any trip to do with musical instruments, lol) Loved reading this post! Happy Birthday Mister Rogers!!!

  5. says

    Awesome post — and thanks for the link to The Neighborhood Archive. The only kids shows PBS should run are old episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Reading Rainbow.

  6. Michele says

    I did know about the saving PBS thing (I think my guy made me watch a doc about it). He was indeed a great man! Thanks for the memories Peaches. Made me smile wide!

  7. says

    One of my great joys as a mother has been introducing Ginny to “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” We watch it together and I find myself singing along with songs I haven’t heard in 25 years, and I am often moved to tears by his keen grasp on the concerns of children. He is a treasure.

  8. Creative Goddess says

    Just another interesting fact about Mr. Rogers I learned from a veterans newsletter was that he was a soldier in the Vietnam war and had many not so nice tattoos on his arms and after returning home after the war he became a minister and he started the show he did not want the children to see his tattoos so he always wore long sleeves.

  9. nutbirds says

    I loved that he talked about writing the “operas” on the show. He was the only children’s show host that really talked directly to the children. The Romper Room lady only recited names. Mr. Rogers talked to children about children’s issues. He also attended Dartmouth College. As did Captain Kangaroo and Dr. Seuss. Go figure.

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