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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

Although it has not been the most beautiful day in the neighborhood with the clouds and rain in Utah, Mr. Rogers was always capable of finding beautiful things in mundane instances. Words such as “wonderful” and “special” as well as various colored cardigans are brought to mind when Mr. Rogers is mentioned. To make him even more of a softy, he wore sweaters that were completely knitted by his mother. Mr. Rogers had an incredibly unique way of understanding the world, which helped him reach young children in the United States from 1968-2001. During those times he taught children about 9/11 and what the world “assassination” meant, how it can be hard when parents get a divorce, how disabilities do not equate to meaninglessness, and that diversity is actually a good thing in society. But was this beloved neighborhood trolley conductor too good to be true? Included in the Won’t You Be My Neighbor documentary, one of Fred’s friends insisted he was the same neighborly fellow off the screen as he was on the screenFor the last 30 years of his life, his routine was impressively consistent; he woke up with the sun, swam laps in a pool, and went about his day working on the Mr. Rogers set. He would weigh himself everyday and was consistently 143 pounds. He translated this reoccurring number to mean “I Love You” because there is one letter in “I”, four letters in “Love”, and three letters in “You”. 143 therefore equals “I Love You”. His purpose was to love people and help children know they are special. I am convinced that his love for humanity was embedded in him from the day he was born. He always looked to find the most effective way to encourage children to be knowledgeable and understand their place in the world. Fred made an effort to influence people all of his life, including the time he devoted to become ordained as a minister of the United Pesbyterian Church. 


Growing up in a single child household, Fred claims he had to make his own fun; this is where the souls of his various puppets came from and where he gave personality to peculiar objects. For example, his knees were not simply knees; they were momentous mountains that covered the land of make believe, aka the carpet. He was also inclined to express feelings of anger through puppets instead of directly to someone. This allowed him to express himself and release that tension without belittling another person in the process. When Fred recognized the steadily rising fame of television, he decided to use it as a tool that would benefit the development of children’s leaning techniques, instead of the alternative: clowns throwing pies in other people’s faces. If he wouldn’t do it, then who would?  https://www.today.com/popculture/mr-rogers-hated-tv-so-45-years-ago-he-changed-1C8421297

His rise to fame was astounding, and the popularity of the show among young children increased when he had the opportunity to have his own segments on air; Mr. Rogers was the neighbor everyone had been looking for. He was able to connect with the children in a sincere way through his gentle smile and personal willingness to listen. A young blind girl was concerned about the fish he fed every show and asked if he could say when he was feeding the fish because she became worried when she didn’t know if the fish was fed or not. After receiving that note, Mr. Rogers made the conscious effort to verbally announce the times he fed the fish. When the fish reached the end of its life, Mr. Rogers took this as an opportunity to discuss grieving and death. He was not interested in painting a world of only rainbows and sunshine; he acknowledged the good and suggested taking delight in it, but did not see that it was fair to become disappointed when a child discovers the realities of life. 


Our friendly neighbor was accused of raising a narcissistic generation by telling children “You’re Special” that didn’t need to hear that title, according to The Wall Street Journal. This point was made on a Yahoo! Answers website that included this post: “Mr. Rogers spent years telling little creeps that he liked them just the way they were. He should have been telling them there was a lot of room for improvement. … Nice as he was, and as good as his intentions may have been, he did a disservice.” Mr. Rogers later responded to this outburst by explaining that he wanted children to understand that there is no requirement to have the potential to obtain love. He once said to his audience, “You don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love you.” This does not need to translate to entitlement and greed, and Mr. Rogers is not accountable for an entire generation’s selfish attributes. He was viewed nationwide through television, but he was one of many that could have been watched. He is a needle in a haystack and the haystack took precedence. 





I am a sophomore at the University of Utah. I enjoy snowy mountains and wearing green shoes.
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor