One Fan Shares His Experience With Mr. Rogers, Indeed The Internet Cried That Day
It has long been said that Fred Rogers’ persona in real life was the same as his on-screen self. However, it isn’t until now that we learn just how sincere Mr. Rogers really was, and how he stopped at nothing to make someone’s day a little brighter.
The Facebook page Films for Action posted a small tribute to the late Mr. Rogers. His fans left comments with their own stories about the man.
One story, in particular, was from Pete Singer, of Oakdale, MN.
According to him, Mr. Rogers took the time to do something incredible for him:
“I was friends with a teen who had a disability similar to Autism. Then he got terminal cancer. He loved Mr. Rogers, especially the Land of Make Believe. His mother sent the show a message asking if there was any way they would send her son, who was now nearing death, one of the puppets from the show. A few weeks later, someone called the house and asked to speak with her son. She informed the caller that her son was asleep. The caller asked when her son would likely be awake. She told him, and the house phone rang at that time. The caller asked for her son, and she passed the phone to him. Later that day I arrived at the house, and my friend said to me, “hey, you know who called? You know who called? Mr. Rogers!”
In August, 1968, the country was still reeling from the assassination of Martin Luther King four months earlier, and the race riots that followed on its heels. Nightly news showed burning cities, white flight, radicals and reactionaries snarling at each other across the cultural divide.
A brand new children’s show out of Pittsburgh, which had gone national the previous year, took a different approach. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood introduced Officer Clemmons, a black police officer who was a kindly, responsible authority figure, kept his neighborhood safe, and was Mr. Roger’s equal, colleague and neighbor.
Around the first anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death, Mr. Rogers invited Officer Clemmons to join him in soaking their tired feet in a plastic wading pool. And there they were, brown feet and pasty white feet, side by side in the water. Silently, contemplatively, without comment.
25 years later, when the actor playing Officer Clemmons retired, his last scene on the show revisited that same wading pool, this time reminiscing. Officer Clemmons asked Mr. Rogers what he’d been thinking during their silent interlude a quarter century before. Fred Rogers’ answer was that he’d been thinking of the many ways people say “I love you.”
– Carl Aveni
Article: Films For Action