In honor of what would have been the 85th birthday of Fred Rogers — that quintessential Pittsburgher, educator, songwriter, author and creator and host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood – we revisit a previously published post by Jim Futrell, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance’s vice president of market research. A sometimes-gruff repository of facts and figures about the 10-county region, Futrell slowed down and waxed philosophical about growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico with ImaginePittsburghNow’s Phil Cynar.
Mr. Rogers was one of my favorite shows. My mom used to joke that I would never miss the two Freds: Rogers and Flintstone.
Why did I like the show so much? I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that Fred Rogers was an adult talking to me at my level. He always came across to me as a man who respected his audience and who wanted to share cool things about the world. He also had a lot of pretty amazing things in his ‘house’ – Trolley, the stop light, Picture-Picture and the miniatures of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. I loved the model of the neighborhood at the beginning and end of the show and could not wait until Mr. Rogers changed his jacket and shoes so we could get on with the show.
There are snippets about the Neighborhood of Make-Believe that I’ll never forget: King Friday XIII’s marriage (he loved Queen Sara Saturday’s cupped custard), the birth of Prince Tuesday, X the Owl changing the supports on his door so they made an ‘X’ rather than a ‘Z,’ the Platypus family moving into the neighborhood, Daniel the Stripèd Tiger getting a wristwatch because ‘when you live in a clock you really should know what time it is,’ and Donkey Hodie who lived in the windmill in Someplace Else. Of course, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, the cranky, outspoken curator of Museum-Go-Round, was certainly unforgettable.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Rogers! Thanks for being our neighbor — and helping to put Pittsburgh on everyone’s map.