Fred Rogers would've been 85 today. No, scratch that. Fred Rogers should have been 85 today. Fred Rogers should be all the ages. Fred Rogers should be immortal. I suppose, thanks to having done his program for a few decades, he is after a fashion, but it takes some real doing to find airings on the schedule now. My own son is past the man's intended audience age bracket (and, sadly, would loudly tell you so himself given the chance), but still, it's just always nice to know that Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is out there somewhere, ready to gently (but always honestly) help explain the world and emotions and life itself to pre-school aged kids. Heck, it's nice to get that every now and then as an adult, too. I like checking back in on Fred's TV address and surrounding environs, and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, and Someplace Else, and Westwood, and and and...it's relaxing, it's reassuring.
There are people out there who don't like Mister Rogers (the program or the man), who find the shows slow, or insipid, or even phony. I always feel bad for those people, and wonder just how cynical and ugly their lives must be to bring them to such a point. But I try to understand and accept them, because that's what Mister Rogers would probably do, and most likely with a smile.
I never met the man (which I am surprisingly regretful about), but he and his TV show played such an important part of my childhood that I still can't help but consider him a friend and, yes, neighbor, and he is and always will be missed.
And I'm pretty sure he's at least partly responsible for my lifelong appreciation of cardigan sweaters and comfortable footwear, but that's neither here nor there.