Everything has changed so much since I was a kid. Everything that is, except Mr. Rogers. When my son was born my reintroduction to childrens' shows began. I admit I was a bit disappointed in programming. I was kind of turned off by the commercial mentality of the cast of Barney, and the Teletubbies I just could not figure out. Sesame Street was still around, but they had newer, "hipper" characters and though my child liked it, I felt a tad alienated. I'm a creature of habit; I still contend the show hasn't been right since Mr. Hooper died.
Once while flipping through channels I came across Mr. Rogers. I wasn't sure if I wanted to watch it. I was afraid Mr. Rogers would be writing hip-hop songs while Mr. McFeely worked for Federal Express. I did not want to taint my cozy childhood memory, but I'm one of those people who just has to look while driving by an accident... so I watched anyway.
To my surprise every perfect thing was the same. Mr. Rogers still changed his sweater and shoes, fed his fish, talked to a trolly, sang the same songs and demystified industrial enterprise via dear ol' "Picture-Picture". And the best part: the puppets had not been updated AT ALL. They looked just as raggedy and unevolved as they did in the 70's prompting me to pledge my eternal allegiance to the show. Come noon, it was mandatory at our house.
I was so excited about the "stagnancy" of the show that I wrote a long letter to Mr. Rogers thanking him for the familiar comfort and for still being there for me. I'm sure I sounded more like a deranged fan than a concerned mother, but I just couldn't help being so personally grateful. Mr. Rogers wrote back, and thus began a precious course of correspondence. In one letter I mentioned my son was almost two and was really beginning to take to the puppets. Of course Mr. Rogers sent him a birthday package in the mail consisting of autographed pictures of himself and the puppets, a T-shirt, a wooden Holgate Neighborhood Trolley and a lovely letter. My son and I sat down and wrote him a note of thanks (my son scribbled, I translated), and here's the absolute best part: Mr. Rogers sent us a Thank You note for the Thank You note! Needless to say, I didn't send him a Thank You note for the Thank You note for the Thank You note! I mean, it had to stop somewhere! LOL!
Oh, Mr. Rogers, you were the best!
In recent years I have wondered how he felt about abortion. You would think that being an ordained minister would clear up that mystery. Unfortunately, these days many ministers support abortion in the name of God, so being a minister isn't an official stance opposing the practice (although it should be). I checked the internet extensively and couldn't find anything. Rogers' personal opinion is pretty well confidential. I have to admit I'm not really sure how I feel about that, but since I don't have that information at my fingertips I choose to go with the messages he sends on his show. Many of his songs support the uniqueness of the individual and the sanctity of life. Here's my all-time favorite (and personal pro-life advocacy anthem):
"I'm taking care of you
taking good care of you
for once I was very little too. Now I take care of you."