Each one of them have diverse perspective about life and what a heroic deed entails. He had makeup on his face and a dollop of black dye combed into his silver hair. “Be careful, Adam, or you’ll turn her into a real girl.” Adam looked at me. Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn't even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. ", He was barely more than a boy himself when he learned what he would be fighting for, and fighting against, for the rest of his life. Where is Fred?" Maybe it was something he needed to hear. Then, with his hand still over hers and his eyes looking straight into hers, he said, "Deb, do you know what a great prayer you are? ", "Did your special friend have a name, Tom? He can't define it. He got out of the car, and, moving as quickly as he had moved to the door of his house, he stepped up a small hill to the door of a large gray mausoleum, a huge structure built for six, with a slightly peaked roof, and bronze doors, and angels living in the stained glass. A hero is highly subjective label because it is a contextual term. “He’s my hero.” There was another pause. And so in Penn Station, where he was surrounded by men and women and children, he had this power, like a comic-book superhero who absorbs the energy of others until he bursts out of his shirt. ", The walls of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood are light blue and fleeced with clouds. She had a long face and a dark blush to her skin. ", "What prayer is that, Mister Rogers? ", "Maybe a puppet, or a special toy, or maybe just a stuffed animal you loved very much. A hero can be as a result of one or more heroic deeds that leaves a lasting impression to the society. Fred Rogers loved her very much, and so, out of nowhere, he smiled and put his hand over hers. "If Mister Fucking Rogers can tell me how to read that fucking clock, I'll watch his show every day for a fucking year"—that's what someone in the crowd said while watching Mister Rogers and Maya Lin crane their necks at Maya Lin's big fancy clock, but it didn't even matter whether Mister Rogers could read the clock or not, because every time he looked at it, with the television cameras on him, he leaned back from his waist and opened his mouth wide with astonishment, like someone trying to catch a peanut he had tossed into the air, until it became clear that Mister Rogers could show that he was astonished all day if he had to, or even forever, because Mister Rogers lives in a state of astonishment, and the astonishment he showed when he looked at the clock was the same astonishment he showed when people—absolute strangers—walked up to him and fed his hungry ear with their whispers, and he turned to me, with an open, abashed mouth, and said, "Oh, Tom, if you could only hear the stories I hear!". He finds me, because that's what Mister Rogers does—he looks, and then he finds. And then he was on the move again, happily, quickly, for he would not leave until he showed me all the places of all those who'd loved him into being. It was so old, in fact, that it was really an unstuffed animal; so old that even back then, with the little boy's brain still nice and fresh, he had no memory of it as "Young Rabbit," or even "Rabbit"; so old that Old Rabbit was barely a rabbit at all but rather a greasy hunk of skin without eyes and ears, with a single red stitch where its tongue used to be. "When you've got kids looking up to you, you don't want to tarnish that image." Once upon a time, a man named Fred Rogers decided that he wanted to live in heaven. We were heading there all along, because Mister Rogers loves graveyards, and so as we took the long, straight road out of sad, fading Latrobe, you could still feel the speed in him, the hurry, as he mustered up a sad anticipation, and when we passed through the cemetery gates, he smiled as he said to Bill Isler, "The plot's at the end of the yellow-brick road." The boy had always been the object of prayer, and now he was being asked to pray for Mister Rogers, and although at first he didn't know if he could do it, he said he would, he said he'd try, and ever since then he keeps Mister Rogers in his prayers and doesn't talk about wanting to die anymore, because he figures Mister Rogers is close to God, and if Mister Rogers likes him, that must mean God likes him, too. To a bald but good old man. Fred never stopped looking at her or let go of her hand. Let's change it to 'bring the dog home.'" View Article Pages. He takes a nap every day in the late afternoon—just as he wakes up every morning at five-thirty to read and study and write and pray for the legions who have requested his prayers; just as he goes to bed at nine-thirty at night and sleeps eight hours without interruption. ", The next afternoon, I went to his office in Pittsburgh. What Are The Gobshites Saying These Days. "This man's name is Tom. "Remind you of anyone, Tom?" It was late in the day, and the train was crowded with children who were going home from school. Then the car stopped on Thirty-fourth Street, in front of the escalators leading down to the station, and when the doors opened—"Holy shit! Of course, she knew who Mister Rogers was, because she had grown up with him, and she knew that he was good for her son, and so now, with her little boy zombie-eyed under his blond bangs, she apologized, saying to Mister Rogers that she knew he was in a rush and that she knew he was here in Penn Station taping his program and that her son usually wasn't like this, he was probably just tired…. Most famous architects are famous for creating big famous buildings, but Maya Lin is more famous for creating big fancy things for people to look at, and in fact, when Mister Rogers had gone to her studio the day before, he looked at the pictures she had drawn of the clock that is now on the ceiling of a place in New York called Penn Station. "Do you think we can go in?" The place was drab and dim, with the smell of stalled air and a stain of daguerreotype sunlight on its closed, slatted blinds, and Mister Rogers looked so at home in its gloomy familiarity that I thought he was going to fall back asleep when suddenly the phone rang, startling him. Great articles, every Saturday. . Whimsical, sweet, complicated and full of warmth, just like that polite guy who used to put on his cardigan and sneakers for little children for many years on PBS. The first time I met Mister Rogers, he told me a story of how deeply his simple gestures had been felt, and received. Except that Mister Rogers wasn't going anywhere. Get instant access to 85+ years of Esquire. Fred Rogers has been doing the same small good thing for a very long time. "Roy Rogers is done. They just sang. He has spent thirty-one years imagining and reimagining those walls—the walls that have both penned him in and set him free. Yes, at seventy years old and 143 pounds, Mister Rogers still fights, and indeed, early this year, when television handed him its highest honor, he responded by telling television—gently, of course—to just shut up for once, and television listened. She had curls in her hair and stars at the centers of her eyes. He doesn't even know. Fred…" But Mister Rogers was out of the car, with his camera in his hand and his legs moving so fast that the material of his gray suit pants furled and unfurled around both of his skinny legs, like flags exploding in a breeze. AUTHOR: Tom Junod "Will you be with me when I die?" Margy couldn't stop them, and she couldn't stop him. She and the boy lived together in a city in California, and although she wanted very much for her son to meet Mister Rogers, she knew that he was far too disabled to travel all the way to Pittsburgh, so she figured he would never meet his hero, until one day she learned through a special foundation designed to help children like her son that Mister Rogers was coming to California and that after he visited the gorilla named Koko, he was coming to meet her son. His name was Fred Rogers. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who takes care of the eyes. And so, every day, Mister Rogers refuses to do anything that would make his weight change—he neither drinks, nor smokes, nor eats flesh of any kind, nor goes to bed late at night, nor sleeps late in the morning, nor even watches television—and every morning, when he swims, he steps on a scale in his bathing suit and his bathing cap and his goggles, and the scale tells him that he weighs 143 pounds. "Can You Say Hero" by Tom Junod This may be old hat to longterm Rogers fans, but it continues to be one of my all-time favorite magazine articles about anything (and I'm a nerdy writer, so that's saying something). The revolution he started—a half hour a day, five days a week—it wasn't enough, it didn't spread, and so, forced to fight his battles alone, Mister Rogers is losing, as we all are losing. When I handed him back the phone, he said, "Bye, my dear," and hung up and curled on the couch like a cat, with his bare calves swirled underneath him and one of his hands gripping his ankle, so that he looked as languorous as an odalisque. and Fred, he's a hundred yards away, in his sneakers and his purple sweater, and the only thing anyone sees of him is his gray head bobbing up and down amid all the other heads, the hundreds of them, the thousands, the millions, disappearing into the city and its swelter. he says when I approach the two of them. Mister Rogers always worries about things like that, because he always worries about children, and when his station wagon stopped in traffic next to a bus stop, he read aloud the advertisement of an airline trying to push its international service. That's cool. Used with permission. At first, the boy was made very nervous by the thought that Mister Rogers was visiting him. "Oh, Mister Rogers, you're the father I never had." You would think it would be easy by now, being Mister Rogers; you would think that one morning he would wake up and think, Okay, all I have to do is be nice for my allotted half hour today, and then I'll just take the rest of the day off….But no, Mister Rogers is a stubborn man, and so on the day I ask about the color of his sky, he has already gotten up at five-thirty, already prayed for those who have asked for his prayers, already read, already written, already swum, already weighed himself, already sent out cards for the birthdays he never forgets, already called any number of people who depend on him for comfort, already cried when he read the letter of a mother whose child was buried with a picture of Mister Rogers in his casket, already played for twenty minutes with an autistic boy who has come, with his father, all the way from Boise, Idaho, to meet him. And so it was; the asphalt ended, and then we began bouncing over a road of old blond bricks, until even that road ended, and we were parked in front of the place where Mister Rogers is to be buried. ", "Old Rabbit. Did you have a special friend like that, Tom? AUTHOR: Tom Junod DATE: November 1998 . They could just have been nice to us when no one else was. On this afternoon, the end of a hot, yellow day in New York City, he was very tired, and when I asked if I could go to his apartment and see him, he paused for a moment and said shyly, "Well, Tom, I'm in my bathrobe, if you don't mind." He had been on television before, but only as the voices and movements of puppets, on a program called The Children's Corner. A definition of a hero to an old grandparent is different to that of a teen member of a gang. And all the people who made this house special to me are not here, anyway. Bill had driven us there, and now, sitting behind the wheel of his red Grand Cherokee, he was full of remonstrance. We hate that.' They might be brave. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. The next afternoon, I went to his office in Pittsburgh. "Oh, Mister Rogers, thank you for my childhood." What kind of prayer has only three words? Thank you, Autrey. And so that's what I told him. Mr Rogers Quote Mr Rogers Movie Mr Rodgers Leadership Lessons Ministry Leadership Fred Rogers James Brown Magazine Articles News Articles. He was wearing beige pants, a blue dress shirt, a tie, dark socks, a pair of dark-blue boating sneakers, and a purple, zippered cardigan. Once upon a time, there was a little boy born blind, and so, defenseless in the world, he suffered the abuses of the defenseless, and when he grew up and became a man, he looked back and realized that he'd had no childhood at all, and that if he were ever to have a childhood, he would have to start having it now, in his forties. "Would you lead us? Three died, and they were still children, almost. We were heading back to his apartment in a taxi when I asked him what he had said. Article from esquire.com. After the success of Won't You Be My Neighbor?, Morgan Neville’s moving and surprisingly profound 2018 documentary about the life, career, and philosophy of Fred Rogers, it seemed only a matter of time before we’d get a biopic about the pioneering children’s television personality and producer. "No, you're not," she says. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.". And probably the kind of guy you married too. I just met Mister Rogers—this is definitely my lucky day." "Oh, that's a nice name," Mister Rogers says, and then goes to the Thirty-fourth Street escalator to climb it one last time for the cameras. He was sitting on a couch, under a framed rendering of the Greek word for grace and a biblical phrase written in Hebrew that means "I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine." One hundred and forty-three. You were a child once, too. And even now, when he is producing only three weeks' worth of new programs a year, he still winds up agonizing—agonizing—about whether to announce his theme as "Little and Big" or "Big and Little" and still makes only two edits per televised minute, because he doesn't want his message to be determined by the cuts and splices in a piece of tape—to become, despite all his fierce coherence, "a message of fragmentation.". If we wanted to go into the house, we should have called first. "Welcome, Tom," he said with a slight bow, and bade me follow him inside, where he lay down—no, stretched out, as though he had known me all his life—on a couch upholstered with gold velveteen. Content copyright © The Fred Rogers Company. TITLE: Can You Say..."Hero"? She goes a little knock-kneed, directs a thumb toward her mouth. Because Mister Rogers is such a busy man, however, he could not write the chapter himself, and he asked a woman who worked for him to write it instead. I advise all of you, to the extent you can, to pick out a few heroes,"—Warren Buffett, Warren Buffett Speaks (2007). Used with permission. Until one night, Mister Rogers came to him, in what he calls a visitation—"I was dreaming, but I was awake"—and offered to teach him how to pray. In the article, headlined Can You Say… Hero?, journalist Tom Junod—the basis for the fictionalized Lloyd—conveys Rogers’ astonishing goodness through a series of anecdotes: Rogers, a … He was the soft son of overprotective parents, but he believed, right then, that he was strong enough to enter into battle with that—that machine, that medium—and to wrestle with it until it yielded to him, until the ground touched by its blue shadow became hallowed and this thing called television came to be used "for the broadcasting of grace through the land." Another example of a hero is someone who is there to help others and gives them strength to go on through life's difficulties. A hero is a person who is able to help another in various ways. Would you do something for me?" "And now if you don't mind," he said without a hint of shame or embarrassment, "I have to find a place to relieve myself," and then off he went, this ecstatic ascetic, to take a proud piss in his corner of heaven. Sometimes, ophthalmologists have to take care of the eyes of children, and some children get very scared, because children know that their world disappears when their eyes close, and they can be afraid that the ophthalmologists will make their eyes close forever. "Yes, you don't want to tarnish that image," Autrey said. She weighed 280 pounds, and Mister Rogers weighed 143. In fact, when the little boy grew up to be a teenager, he would get so mad at himself that he would hit himself, hard, with his own fists and tell his mother, on the computer he used for a mouth, that he didn't want to live anymore, for he was sure that God didn't like what was inside him any more than he did. He is not speaking of the little girl. "Little boys," they say, "should be Seen but never heard!" I could end right here, and I think I’ve already done enough to explain why you need to read this story. The old navy-blue sport jacket comes off first, then the dress shoes, except that now there is not the famous sweater or the famous sneakers to replace them, and so after the shoes he's on to the dark socks, peeling them off and showing the blanched skin of his narrow feet. I didn't ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. Once upon a time, a long time ago, a man took off his jacket and put on a sweater. 'Most people think of us as a great domestic airline. "Would you like to speak to him?" This article was originally published in the November 1998 issue. They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" She was a minister at Fred Rogers's church. They can be someone we've never talked to or someone we see every day. The shootings took place in West Paducah, Kentucky, and when Mister Rogers heard about them, he said, "Oh, wouldn't the world be a different place if he had said, 'I'm going to do something really little tomorrow,'" and he decided to dedicate a week of the Neighborhood to the theme "Little and Big." There’s a Hero Inside of Everyone, and We’re Not Saying That to Make You Feel Good Science journalist Elizabeth Svoboda’s new book examines the roots and reasons of … Then he took off his shoes and put on a pair of navy-blue canvas boating sneakers. Nearly every morning of his life, Mister Rogers has gone swimming, and now, here he is, standing in a locker room, seventy years old and as white as the Easter Bunny, rimed with frost wherever he has hair, gnawed pink in the spots where his dry skin has gone to flaking, slightly wattled at the neck, slightly stooped at the shoulder, slightly sunken in the chest, slightly curvy at the hips, slightly pigeoned at the toes, slightly aswing at the fine bobbing nest of himself… and yet when he speaks, it is in that voice, his voice, the famous one, the unmistakable one, the televised one, the voice dressed in sweater and sneakers, the soft one, the reassuring one, the curious and expository one, the sly voice that sounds adult to the ears of children and childish to the ears of adults, and what he says, in the midst of all his bobbing nudity, is as understated as it is obvious: "Well, Tom, I guess you've already gotten a deeper glimpse into my daily routine than most people have.". Maya Lin is a famous architect. Its name was Old Rabbit. "I imagine they're blue.". "Oh, I don't know, Fred," she said. Hate is such a strong word to use so lightly. "Looks a bit like…Old Rabbit, doesn't it, Tom? Subscribe Now! It's not a good word. "Can I take your picture, Tom?" he asked, and then handed me the phone. You don’t have to go to great lengths by risking your life to make a difference in someone else’s life. William Warren Bradley (born July 28, 1943) is an American politician and former professional basketball player. He writes all his own scripts, but on this day, when he receives a visit from Mrs. McFeely and a springer spaniel, she says that she has to bring the dog "back to his owner," and Mister Rogers makes a face. Once upon a time, you see, I lost something, and prayed to get it back, but when I lost it the second time, I didn't, and now this was it, the missing word, the unuttered promise, the prayer I'd been waiting to say a very long time. She spent much of her time tending to the sick and the dying. On his computer, the boy answered yes, of course, he would do anything for Mister Rogers, so then Mister Rogers said, "I would like you to pray for me. He doesn't know the color of his walls, and one day, when I caught him looking toward his painted skies, I asked him to tell me what color they are, and he said, "I imagine they're blue, Tom." Can You Say...“Hero”? This boy had a very bad case of cerebral palsy, and when he was still a little boy, some of the people entrusted to take care of him took advantage of him instead and did things to him that made him think that he was a very bad little boy, because only a bad little boy would have to live with the things he had to live with. First mook: "Looks like you're gonna have to break down and buy a dictionary." Come and listen, if you can. "Oh, hello, my dear," he said when he picked it up, and then he said that he had a visitor, someone who wanted to learn more about the Neighborhood. The ophthalmologists did not want to scare children, so they asked Mister Rogers for help, and Mister Rogers agreed to write a chapter for a book the ophthalmologists were putting together—a chapter about what other ophthalmologists could do to calm the children who came to their offices. The little girl eyes me suspiciously, and then Mister Rogers. He had always loved Mister Rogers, though, and now, even when he was fourteen years old, he watched the Neighborhood whenever it was on, and the boy's mother sometimes thought that Mister Rogers was keeping her son alive. On this day, however, he is premature by a considerable extent, and so Margy, who has been with Mister Rogers since 1983—because nobody who works for Mister Rogers ever leaves the Neighborhood—comes running over, papers in hand, and says, "Not so fast there, buster. 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