You can say what you will about Mr. Rogers, but the mainstay of children's programming for slightly more years than I've been alive, is gone. A man who advocated children and peace, and still managed to keep his strong religious views out of the program should be hailed a true American Icon.
Yes, like everyone I passed thru my childlike love of the show into my teen mockery of it's lithiumized feelings. But the show touched me in my young adult hood like nothing else has ever done.
When I was in college studying theatre, film, and TV production I had the opportunity to take an intership at WQEX/WQED. I was taken on a tour of the studios. Passing X and Henrietta's tree was one thing. Going into the studio and seeing Mr. Rogers neighborhood house was something incredibly different.
We often talk about on how tv it's never real. But the truth is... Mr. Rogers was. Every interview I've read, said that he lived life like he projected it to children. The stories (and parables) albiet softened were still of truth.
I walked around the set. The sofa, the closet, the fish tank, the kitchen, and the little trolley. 100% real and solid. I was in my early 20's and something in my cried like a small child feeling oddly safe.
Then I turned around. The landscape that the camera pans at the start of every episode was there. It was a table model about 6 feet square. I could see it all. And the hardest thing for me to deal with was that the model was of the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. The buildings were softened, but the street layout couldn't be missed. The camera came up 5th Avenue and turned right into his house where WQED was. Where I was standing. I followed the street mentally. (I knew the area having lived there 10 years.) And there it was. The intersection I lived on.
Your in your early 20s and learning that you live in Mr Rogers Neighborgood. And it all seems... Okay.
Will the world be less of a place without Fred Rogers? I don't think so. I think it's more of a place for all the lives he's touched either in the peace he offered in his programming, the conviction of his beliefs to those that followed him, or the satire he generated by those that still were infected by his neighborly spirit.
"Term of all that liveth, whose name is Death and inscrutable, be thou favorable unto us in thine hour. And unto him, from whose mortal eyes the veil of physical life hath fallen, grant that there may be the accomplishment of his True Will. Should he will absorption in the Infinite, or to be united with his chosen and preferred, or to be in contemplation, or to be at peace, or to achieve the labour and heroism of incarnation on this planet or another or in any star, or aught else, unto him may there be granted the accomplishment of his true will. Yea, the accomplisment of his true will."
Peace unto you Fred Rogers.. And Blessings... and most importantly, thank you from you for being my neighbor.
(This thought has actually, brought me to a bit of a tear.)
"... I'll be back when the week is new.. And I'll have more ideas for you... you'll
have things you want to talk about. I will too. See you next time neighbor."