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Fan Favorite: Was Mister Rogers the Best Neighbor Ever?

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Hither podcast listeners, it's mango here. And if you know anything about me, you know, that I love animals and particularly animals with facial hair. So my favorite monkey is the bearded emperor. Tamarin you've got to look this up because it's got a mustache that makes hipsters jealous. My favorite lizard is the bearded dragon, which my daughter calls it beardie for some reason, and my favorite pig is the bearded pig, which is especially impressive to me because it is not a good looking creature. But the way it uses all that facial SCRUFF to distract from its face. That's what's amazing to me. But as much as I love facial hair on other animals, I like my face decidedly smooth. And I keep it that way, thanks to Gillette, fusion pro. She'll blades, they're really the blades. I use the truth is I've been loyal to them for a while. Now, I even got my dad use them because I never end up with Knicks burns, but listeners you do not have to take my word for you can get Gillette quality blades delivered right to your home, which lets on demand service and try for yourself. In fact, if you subscribe to Gillette on demand today, we'll get fit. Fifty percent off your first order with a special offer code genius fifty. That's the word genius followed by the number five zero. It's unique code for our listeners only genius fifty and they're all sorts of benefits to subscribing shipping is free. And so is every fourth order so just visit Gillette online at Gillette on demand dot com. And use the code genius fifty to get fifty percent off your first order today. Guess what will what's that mango? So this week. I was thinking back on one of my favorite, Mr. Rogers facts, it's about when KoKo the gorilla met mister Rogers, your KoKo the gorilla, right? I love cocoa. Yes. She was the one that she knew sign language, right? Yeah. That's right. So when cocoa met mister Rogers she was already a huge fan. Apparently scientists used to play the program for cocoa. So when he walked in she got really excited and not only did she give them like this big hug, and CoCo was like she was big, right? Yeah. Enormous. So you have to imagine this giant gorilla. Just enveloping this rail thin, man. But then she started taking his shoes off, and he was a little surprised. But then he realized she was only doing that. Because it was the same way Hugh's to start every single show. I mean, well, everybody loves Mr. Rogers exactly, and they're a million stories about how good and kind. He wasn't real life. And just how beloved he was even by guerrillas. But with all the tension, and politics and general horrible news going on in the world today. We thought it'd be nice to do a little thanksgiving show about one of our favorite neighbors and really one of my favorite humans. Fred rogers. Let's dive in. Open part time genius. I'm little Pearson and his always I'm joined by my good friend man gush and sitting behind the soundproof glass zipping up his cardigan over that another car. To cardigan double cardigan, that's our friend and producer Tristan McNeil art, so mango we're obviously talking about mister Rogers today. And I'm guessing you watched a ton of mister Rogers growing up. I did. I mean from our generation, I really don't know anyone who wasn't influenced by Mr. Rogers. Yeah. But at my house, we didn't watch a ton of TV. But we watched a lot of PBS like we watch Sesame Street and reading rainbow we actually subscribed to three to one contact magazine, which actually had an influence on mental floss. And and you know, there's shows like square one and Carmen sandiego. But I definitely remember watching Mr. Rogers and talking to the screen when Mr. Rogers would ask questions and also like learning little tricks from the show, or some reason always cracked me up. I love watching kids talk to the kids still do that. But so do you remember what tricks? You learned. Yeah. I mean, this is kind of ridiculous. But there was an episode where he was doing some craft and he made a little paper house just out of like a single sheet of construction paper, and then he bent and cut out a front door. So that would open like a real door. And for some reason, I kind of file that away and then kindergarten during this holiday party when we were coloring gingerbread houses, I snuck over to this ten of scissors and cut out the front door like I'd seen just to sniff. So swing open or whatever. And all the adults were so impressed. When everyone asks me how I come up with such a clever idea just kind of shrugged took credit for it. I know I totally stole it from Mr. Rogers, and I still carry that guilt. I would too that's doing for mister Rogers. And I'm sure those adults are still talking about it to how creative that mango is. But of course, I watch Mr. Rogers too. But it was it was always funny. How Mr. Rogers kind of became this thing at mental floss. It was really your thing. And you you wrote an article about him when we first launched the website. I think it was called like fifteen reasons mister Rogers was the best neighbor ever something like that. So I honestly think he should be America's patron Saint. I probably watched a little more Mr. Rogers than most people because my mom was a preschool teacher. And actually, what's funny is that. Story for mental floss was actually the second list. I'd written about mister Rogers. Really? So what was the what was the first? Well, in seventh grade we had to do this writing assignment where we talked about an inspirational figure in our lives, and we had to get in front of the class for five minutes, and it was supposed to be serious. I think some kids talked about their grandparents or people they considered heroes. But instead of reading something meaningful, I think I was trying to impress them girls in my class. So I decided to do mine on Mr. Rogers, and why thought he should be president. And I presented it as a top ten list, which was super as yet the time by the whole thing was full of bad jokes about how he'd make America feel special. And I'd also really gotten into Eddie Murphy at the time side seen Eddie Murphy's SNL parody. But I also included things like how Mr. Rogers had actually really influenced by style wearing cardigans and low top sneakers, I put so little effort into this thing. And honestly, most of my five minutes was spent with me on a stool, slowly zipping up, my sweater and putting on sneakers just really having. Don't know why this is so. Easy for me to picture like you giving that same presentation now. But it is funny. If you had not mentioned, Mr. Robinson or Eddie Murphy's character on us and L, I definitely was going to. There was a good story about this. I actually read that one time Fred Rogers happened to be at thirty rock. So he decided to sneak in and surprise Eddie Murphy just to meet him in person. So he goes up and knocks on his door. And went Eddie opens it he was of course, stunned. I mean, there's Mr.. Standing there grinning at him. And so he was supposedly a little bit embarrassed by the situation, but he just gives him a big hug and smiles and says, it's the real Mr. Robinson. Oh, I love that. So so does your class like your presentation not to go back to that? It's just I can't thought thinking. I think so but the worst part was that the teacher liked it. So for the next assignment she made everyone else do a top ten list of celebrities that should be president right which we have now. I guess, but honestly now that I'm saying this out loud, all of it makes sense. You know, I know we both read and love Tom gino's piece for as choir years later and realized what an amazing figure Mr. Rogers actually was there are so many incredible parts of the story. But one of the things I loved most was that we're ever Fred went people wanted to tell him how much he meant to them everywhere. Actually, I pulled this passage from the store because I wanted to read it here. It says quote once upon a time, Mr. Rogers went to New York City and got caught in the rain. He didn't have an umbrella and he couldn't find the taxi either. So he ducked with a friend in the subway and got on one of the trains. It was late in the day. And the train was crowded with children who were going home from school though of all races. The school children were mostly black and Latino, and they didn't even approach Mr. Rogers and ask him for his autograph or anything like that. They just saying they sang all at once all together the song he sings at the start of his program. Won't you be my neighbor, and it turned this clattering? Train into a single soft runaway choir is great, that's wonderful. I mean, he did do eight hundred ninety five episodes and thirty one seasons of that show. So I looked up the numbers and it reached eight million families every week. So obviously he was bound to run into some thin. Yeah. But that you know, peace is honestly, one of my favorite magazine stories ever. And for those of you listening. It's written as these vignettes of him interacting with kids and interacting with the author. And he just leave it wondering how can person be that? Good. I mean, it sounds ludicrous. But reading that story made me want to be a better person. And I think you know, wrote that piece in the late nineties and then six or seven years later when you couldn't find that story online because so many magazines had pulled all the content from the internet. I wrote that list partially because I generally want readers to rediscover that article. Yeah. And so we'll definitely link out to from our Facebook page. All right. So we've talked around Mr. Rogers, but why don't we dive into his actual story here. Sure. But why don't we start by each giving? One fact we learned about in this week. You always want to skip grades. Thanks, man. You've got to be patient with whatever I hope that. They're so fun. Here's mine. Did you know Mr. Rogers was official celebrity captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Like, the hockey hockey doesn't exactly seem like mister Rogers. Yeah. I don't think it is either foot for the ninety one ninety two season. And this was the NHL seventy fifth anniversary every team got to pick a celebrity, captain. And most of the team's picked like a list celebrities or movie stars or whatever. But the penguins picked him. And there was even this rookie trading card. They made for mister Rogers on my gosh, I love that. So is he wearing a hockey uniform minute. I wish it's just a picture of him in his neighborhood. Hearing that made me like hockey a little more. Why don't you? Tell me about fact, you liked it's hard to surprise you with these facts. But there I mean, there are some good ones. Like like once he realized how committee was the kids and childhood development. It makes sense that you know, he taught himself to speak. Slowly, I I think he spoke at a rate of one hundred twenty four words per minute because that's actually the optimal speed for kids and the three to five age range. That's so crazy that he was committed. But what's your actual fact? All right. I don't know maybe that he was a vegetarian. He actually owns shares in vegetarian magazine called that -tarian time. That's so strange. You know, my mom actually used to subscribe to that. At a lot in common at least stopped eating meat in the seventies. Because he didn't want to eat anything with the mother. And when he was profiled in the magazine, he said, I love burgers and beats. He has to be the only NHL captain history to ever. See those words sure that's true. But let's get back to this bio, why don't you give a quick rundown of how Mr. Rogers got into TV? All right. I can do that. So Fred, mcfeely Rogers. How great is it that his middle? Name was mic was born in nineteen twenty eight in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He grew up to be a puppeteer and an ordain minister, but he had a sweet and fairly ordinary childhood. He was a gifted pianist he was editor of his high school paper president of student council. Not surprisingly he did really well in school, and when he graduated he decided to go to Dartmouth to study romance languages, but then he transferred out a year later than that to go to Rollins college because he wanted to pursue music. Yeah. I've read that he composed like two hundred songs for mister Rogers neighborhood. Yeah. That's right. And I actually thought he was playing the piano at the start of the show because I knew that he could play the piano, and and because he does play on the show when he sings, but but at the beginning of the show, it's actually his friend the jazz musician, Johnny. Pasta. You know, I hadn't heard of Johnny Kosta before this week. And I've read that he and Fred went way back, and that this was kind of a steady side gig in rough times from but being friends, Mr. Rogers, new Costa's, financial situation and the salary. He offered him was the exact amount cost a needed to put his son through college. And that kind of sweet. Yeah. But from your reading is cost a famous like I didn't really know about him. I mean, I think people in jazz circles knew him apparently Ella Fitzgerald's pianists used the tune into the last five minutes of mister Rogers every day just to quote here. What Johnny was. He was that good. When I do have to add this because it's a very, Mr. Rogers fact, so Johnny said children, understand good music. I would never play piddling nursery rhyme. It's pretty neat. But we'll we'll get into Fred Rogers philosophy and a bit. But it was never to dumb down anything. It was always about respecting the kids and their feelings and their intelligence, you know, it's funny. I heard Sarah Silverman talking about a really difficult topic this week, but has she was kind of talking yourself up to it. She said, quote, if it's mentionable it's manageable. And that kind of stuck with me. And I thought what a nice quote. And then as we're doing this research, I realized that's actually mister Rogers phrase and one he used about talking about difficult topics on his show, but we should get back to the biography. Yeah. All right. So so Fred goes to college, and he meets his wife Jean there. Who's also a pianist. But when he's home on break from school, he watches TV, and he sees people throwing pies in each other's faces. And he has this pretty visceral reaction. Action to it is, you know, puts it Fred was quote, the soft son of overprotective parents, but he certainly had conviction and right than while watching this mean-spirited pie. Throwing Fred realized that if TV's going to have this sweeping effect on our culture he wanted to fight against programming's baser impulses. He wanted to fight for what he called broadcasting of grace through the land. I don't know exactly what that means. But it sounds. So so when he became this ordain minister, which which he did at the same time that he went through grad school for child development. He decided to use all of those skills on television. And that's when he started Mr. Rogers in Pittsburgh. Well, not exactly at that point. I mean he'd done a little puppeteer and TV producing but his first real gig as Mr. Rogers was actually in Canada. And that's when he first got on camera and the show was called, Mr. Rogers weirdly for some reason, it was all one word. I'm not sure why. But it only lasts a year or two because Fred decided he wanted to raise his kids back home. And and that's when mister Rogers neighborhood, really kicked off. So I of course, want to talk about his pacing the show and how you use that medium for good. But I also wanted to take a second to talk about his wardrobe. I know a lot of people may know that all the cartoons on the show where knit by his mother apparently she used to net. One sweater a month for family members. And she'd ask Fred what color this year so wearing that card. Again, was this little trivia to his mom, but take off dress shoes at the beginning of the show. Oh, actually had an alternate purpose. Really? I'm I'm guessing it was just to make the kids feel cozy. If you remember back in our education episode, we talked about the fact that it helps kids concentrate better in school when they take their shoes off was was that what this has to do with. Yeah. That might have been a side benefit. But his dress shoes also clumped in squeaked. So walking around the studio with quieter and less squeaky shoes is why he switched to sneakers. Okay. All right. Well, I I wanna get into the actual TV show along with some of the heartwarming stories about him. But before we do that. Why don't we take a quick break? Hey, there PG listeners you guys know already. We are big fans of the great courses. Plus, we have so many questions we want to answer in this world. And the great courses plus helps us answer. So many of those by hearing from award winning experts on so many different topics history. Science language, photography, even playing chess is one we've been checking out recently, there are over eleven thousand different lectures, now lately, I've been trying to boost my memory powers because I'm always trying to catch up to mango on this. The guy can remember anything. And there's a new course called the scientific secrets for a powerful memory. It's this really insightful. Course that shows you how you can improve your memory by taking hard remember information and transferring it into easy to remember formats in. Here's some good news because there's a black Friday deal here. You can get your first month for free. Plus get fifty percent off your next two months of the great courses. Plus now, this generous offer extends. Unlimited access as you enjoy their huge library of engaging lectures. Right. This black Friday deal ends on Monday, November twenty sixth so sign up now through our special your L to take advantage of this before it's too late. Sign up by Monday to get your first month free. Plus fifty percents off your next two months. So go to the great courses, plus dot com slash genius again. That's the great courses plus dot com slash genius. Welcome back to part time genius. So we're talking Mr. Rogers and how he used his neighborhood to educate kids. So let's talk for a second about the pacing of the show. Yes. So Rogers like the show to move slow but deep so he taught kids through things like anxiety telling kids they were too big to slip down the drain or talking about how things like haircuts don't actually hurt or even talking about complex things like divorce and they're also field trips around the neighborhood to nurture curiosity and land of make believe was there. You know, the the place trolley would go to with all the popping. But what's really interesting to me is how much he studied kids nature and the way they learn. So there was this one Yale psychology study that compared the effect of Sesame Street on kids versus mister Rogers neighborhood. And the results were sort of surprising. Oh, yeah. So well, why was that? Well, the kids who watch Mr. Rogers remembered, the storylines better. And they also had a better tolerance of delay. Essentially, they were more patient when they've been promised treats. I mean. But you've seen old sesame street's though. I mean, I know there's some quick moving graphics from time to time. But for the most part, though shows seem pretty slow. Yeah. But Mr. Rogers really worked to keep the show as seamless as possible. Like he'd rehearsed the show over and over because he wanted to be thoughtful about every word he used and he didn't wanna make too many cuts partially because that can be jarring viewers washing so intensely. You know, it is funny to contrast this show with something like SpongeBob or show like that. I I remember our friend Ethan tracks mental floss telling us about this study from two thousand eleven that the show was basically making kids dumber. You know, there was this UVA study that that looked at a group of four year olds that were allowed to watch an educational cartoon some that watch SpongeBob or spend their time coloring and after nine or ten minutes, they then tested, the kids on puzzle solving and following instructions and also a tolerance of delay. And the kids who watch SpongeBob did by far the worst. I mean, I'm guessing that's because all those quick cuts made it hard to process for kids. Right. You have you know, the way the study was argued against was pretty hilarious. There was a spokesman from Nickelodeon that started out by saying that the show is intended for older kids. But then the argument devolved into something like quote, watching a sponge and pants is just a new and unfamiliar concept for kids the wrap their head around. I'm not sure that's what caused the lower scores. There's also that great story of someone coming to the studio to put a fish on microphone and feed them in the aquarium like mister Rogers wanted to hear the sound of fish eating, and and it was all being taped live, but the person kept trying to hurry the fish along because they just weren't feeding. So they'd say things like Chow time or dinner bell. And mister Rogers just kind of patiently waited and afterwards. He revealed his philosophy that it's okay for kids not to have that immediate gratification that they can learn to wait through watching the program. It's just remarkable. Really? I mean, the other thing Mr. Rogers was really thoughtful about with social issues, which kinda size Christian issues as well. So Michael Long of huff PO wrote up a few things he'd noticed. And here's some of the things I didn't realize about the show so ten years before Sally ride, Mr. Rogers had his puppet character lady. Elaine Fairchild fly to outer space and discover new planets and then two years before Barbara Walters broke through as the first female anchor on the evening news. He actually had lady Elaine break that barrier as well. She's just breaking barriers comparison, you know, and and obviously those are imaginary characters, and and I do think they affected. Kids perceptions of what women were capable of. But he also had some real people on the show to stress these points as well. Right. I read that he created a character mayor Maggie of Southwood played by an African American actor in nineteen seventy five which I guess was almost like fifteen years before an African American woman would become the mayor of a big city. Yeah. And actually the character he created after Martin Luther King junior's assassination in nineteen sixty eight was also really important. So he asked this musician friend of his who's voice he loved to play the role of officer Clemens and story core. Did this incredible interview with Francois Clemens that deserves to be listened to? But here's how he described it to NPR, quote, I grew up in the ghetto, I did not have a positive opinion of police officers. Policemen were seeking police dogs and water hoses on people. And I had a hard time putting myself in that role. So. I think you've really struggled with it because he liked Fred. But was conflicted about the impact he could have. Yeah. But then in nineteen sixty nine there was this episode where Mr. Rogers is resting his feet and a kiddie pool on a hot day. And as Clements put it, quote, he invited me to come over and duress my feet in the water with him the icon. Fred Rogers was not only showing my Brown skin in the tub with white skin is to friends, but as I was getting out of the tub, he was helping me dry my feet. I mean that whole story. Just kills me. Yeah. And the thing is like it's so hard to pick these stories because there are so many of them actually saw quote from Clemens where Mr. Rogers was ending the show the way he always did. It was hanging up sweater and telling the audience you make every day special day, just by being you. And I like, you just the way you are and on that particular day Clements thought Rogers was looking at him. So he walks up to him and asks Fred were you talking to me? And this is how NPR tells it. Yes, I've been talking to you for years Roger said, but you heard me today. It was like telling me that. I'm okay as a human being Clements says and that was one of the most meaningful experiences I'd ever had. I know they're honestly a million stories of mister Rogers doing kind thing from how he'd get up at five thirty every morning to answer massive piles of mail like every person who wrote in got a note back. He'd also make friends with journalists which made him a really hard interview because he takes photos of them and their time together and then mail those to him and he keep up with him to ask how their families were one time. He made a limo driver drive to his own house. A Rogers could meet the driver's family, and then they played music and sang late into the night and wanna father wrote in because his blind daughter had heard Mr. Rogers feed the fish once. But then was worried that they had died. Mr. Rogers changed his daily narration include a bit where he said the fish were fed and doing well, and they're just so many heart warming stories of him telling kids to be brave and difficult situations. Yeah. The others to too many great stories and by all accounts, he was very much the same person on and offscreen. But we should talk a little bit about how he saved PBS and also the VCR. So why don't we do that? After the break. Okay, mango, so earlier we were talking about this wonderful profile of mister Rogers and Esquire called can you say hero? And we were lucky enough to get the author of that profile on the line, Tom. Do you know, welcome to part time genius. So Tom it's been I think nearly twenty years since their profile, and I think at the time Mr. Rogers must have been famous, but not top of mind for most people. Why did you choose Mr. Rogers as a subject? Yeah. I actually it was it was definitely one of profiles that was chosen for me. I mean, there are two reasons for it number one when you were doing a story issue the voter to of Eric's heroes, and the enters very strongly advocated that that Mr. Rogers should be accounted on that list. But the second thing that that had happened was I just thought through a bunch of stuff regarding Kevin Spacey year before I had written the story the cover line for which was Kevin Spacey has a secret that sort of danced around outing him, and it probably did. More than dance around. So and that at the time seems incredibly transgressive n roll. And you know, I I want attack all sides and Kevin itself. Called for me. She'd be blacklisted British webley profiles, and I was just sort of finishing up. All that, the editor who advocated Dhiraj on the cover as heroes issue advocated that I'd be the writer since like, you know, not only would it be sort of counterintuitive to have him on the cover it for extra counterintuitive to have the Torius country know that piece. And so was he interested in having a story on him? It was just it was just a funny thing. I. Hit a lot of protection at the time. But I didn't know any of that. I know contacted his people and his okay. Well, you can you can you know, visit him in New York when he's in New York. I didn't know at this time that his people were trying very hard to dissuade him from talking to me. Don't you know, who this guy is don't you know, what he did and had nothing to do with? You know, Fred being gay or whatever that was never part of the equation, but it had to do with just deep being sort of a bad guy, notorious guy, and that will only set up the whole dynamic for the story. I didn't I didn't know that that was going on. But I went and saw him in his apartment in New York City. And you know, he he, you know, I called him up and said can I come over, and he was like well term from amendment Robens flippers and taking a nap over. No. And and. You know, when I went there, and I knocked on the door, and you know, by God, he was slippers in a row and any within this apart and just right from the very very start. I started asking questions which he never answered he did not I saw thread anytime, he never answered single. What am I question? Selected by asking a question about myself. You know, you know, and and you know, part of that is in the story. You know, he he asked me just like I was started asking him about his past. And like when I had a lot of sense back there. I didn't have a lot of friends, but I had a lot of, you know, imaginary friends like stuffed animals and things I'll bet you had a close friend like that too. Didn't you come? Yes. Old rabbit. Oh, I'll bet you loved old ravage very much. And it was it was just you know, that dynamic from the very beginning. And you know, as a journalist I had to decide whether to accept that or not. And I did. And I think I did because they needed to. I think ily was really at a place in my career. I just gone to Esquire from Q. And you know, she was pretty much a getaway. It was like, you know, nonstop. You know glory really just you know, I did I every story. One was kind of created, you know, in welcomed, you know, with enthusiasm. Then I went to ask where my first story was on Kevin Spacey and people just hated it. And for a while they kind of like. And and then Fred came in and Yuli, really, I think saw that. I think he saw that. I think that he saw that I needed someone to trust today, and he decided to and I decided to trust into that was the dynamic of the whole story. Wow. That's really interesting. Well, we'll talk one of the things we haven't seen written about much is is his relationship with his sons. Do you happen to know much about him as a parent? No, I don't I really don't. I've you know, I met his wife JoAnne many times, and I'm still in touch with her. But I don't know very much about relationship with his son. Well, you know, I'd known he was a minister, but he was always so quiet about his faith on the show. And and I'm curious why do you think he asked you to pray with them during your reporting? Because I think he was quiet about his face on the show. But I think he lived his face. You know every day. I mean, I know for fact that you, you know, woke up every morning at five o'clock in order to pray for people into right into fake at read, but from five to seven with his time five selves and part of that was prayer for people. And I, you know, became one of the people he prayed for you know, from the very beginning. He would ministering to me. He was not just like a typical profile subject in any way at all ham was ministering today. And I was okay with it and contract I needed. And so that was that was really what happened. So I I think that was one of those guys was very private. He was gonna person who, you know, talked about his personal life and all. All I mean like zero and, but I think that got past a certain point, I think his license face with a, you know, a huge component of that private life. So Tom, I was curious. What was your relationship like with him after the interview? And and did you stay friends? Yeah. Yeah. We did we stayed we stayed friends until he died. And even though I did not know how sticky was I was one of the people who was let in to that level. But I mean, you know, after the story came out when he stayed friends. I mean, I don't know like, I don't know how many. How many I have Fred that you set me between nineteen ninety eight and two thousand three when he died at least five hundred and then we're just doing mostly short. They're mostly just like, you know, praying for Utah. We're praying and praying for adventure. You know, family relation who was having trouble. And she was young. And I know that he prayed for her. I mean, I know that for for fast and simple call him every once in a while like one, I was just funny. I was the other day in Atlanta, I came around exit that reminded me, a friend because I remember the day when I came around that exit, and there was a snapping turtle crossing it to get to some sort of, you know, vista jewel pond that had been developed around, and I stopped my car, and you know, I picked up the snapping turtle. And all these people all at once came out and helped me, and you know, I told I told about it. I call them up and called him about it. And he was like isn't that like you on, you know? Any always had a worse to say the west holiday. I spoke to Fred was on Christmas Eve Christmas day, two thousand two and on Christmas Eve of been a a battle in my family, and it was between. My wife, and I my wife got involved in frac, it's between me, and some, you know, some other you know, typical family will. But the my wife was really upset that I and. He couldn't sleep and for. She was so so bad about how have been traded, and will listen, they got her to sleep is that she thought yourself like what would Fred Rogers do how we Fred Rogers react to this? That's having that's sort of ingrained. He was too. You don't have our way of thinking in our family life, and you know, I called him Christmas morning. I called him the next day and told him that and he you know, he gave me that same that same answer. You know, how how like you to to call the tell me that. I did not know that he was going to spend the cancer. You already was he was you know, he was diagnosed with sick. He died to talk later instead of two thousand three and I remember very well. You end up that he went down to my computer from my laptop, and there was his picture. And you know, I just I knew I knew right away with that picture. And it was I had to give a speech that day here in Atlanta. And I wound up asking. Everybody in the audience to be changed. What's in it? But silence in in tribute to Fred what you remember, Fred? But because that's what he did that. So that's how he, you know, open his speeches. He would count that benefit silence and have people think about someone they loved we're happy to think about people that they love and I did that that day. And it was it was pretty emotional. But it's such a great story. And I can't imagine that story for you having come at a at a better time, and what a life changing moment. I think what's been. So remarkable for us as we've been preparing to do the episode. This week is just how many people there are in the world that feel similarly that were so positively affected by him and in so many ways, but thank you for writing this profile on him. I know again, it's been a couple of decades, but mango, and I have talked about this one so many times over the years. Definitely changed. My life. Joel. Thank you so much, Tom. I really appreciate it. Hey, there PG listeners you guys know already. We are big fans of the great courses. Plus, we have so many questions we want to answer in this world. And the great courses plus helps us answer. So many of those by hearing from award winning experts on so many different topics history. Science language, photography, even playing chess is one we've been checking out recently, there are over eleven thousand different lectures, now lately, I've been trying to boost my memory powers because I'm always trying to catch up to mango on this. The guy can remember anything. And there's a new course called the scientific secrets for a powerful memory. It's this really insightful. Course that shows you how you can improve your memory by taking hard remember information and transferring it into easy to remember formats in. Here's some good news because there's a black Friday deal here. You can get your first month for free. Plus get fifty percent off your next two months of the great courses. Plus now, this generous offer extends your. Unlimited access as you enjoy their huge library of engaging lectures. Right. This black Friday deal ends on Monday, November twenty six so sign up now through our special your L to take advantage of this before it's too late. Sign up by Monday to get your first month free. Plus fifty percents off your next two months. So go to the great courses, plus dot com slash genius again. That's the great courses plus dot com slash genius. Welcome back to part time genius. So before the break, I mentioned that we talk quickly about mister Rogers impact on culture, and specifically PBS and the VCR and in both instances mister Rogers went to Washington, it was it was almost out of a Capra film. And actually, you can see these things going. Are you still still see them shared all the time social media going in front of congress? But when PBS is budget was going to be cut. He went and spoke passionately about how TV can help kids with the motions. And instead of a budget cut the funding jumped from nine to twenty two million dollars that incredible. And when the government was debating whether VCR's should be allowed in homes because recording videos from TV might work against copyright issues. And keep mind this was a long time ago. But it was actually a pretty heated issue Rogers convinced them that for working families being able to tape a show, and then watch it together later was really important in his testimony sway. That decision as well. I mean, he was so gentle. But so convincing Burger King ran this commercial awhile back called Mr. Rodney, which was kind of a sweet parody. But then they got a call from Mr. Rogers who'd received letters from kids and parents wondering why he was now pushing burgers. Yeah. It would be kind of a weird fit for vegetarian. I guess that's why they just decided to transition to that giant weird looking king anything, I don't think. So. But mister Rogers had never done any commercials. So, you know, EM even done this PBS auctions that you see during the fundraising drive. So you gently asked them to remove the hundred fifty thousand dollar spot because he didn't want any of his kids confused and Burger King actually pulled it like commercial only aired for one week his ability to just call people up and relate to them as humans with extraordinary and even Burger King. Agreed. This is what they're spokesperson said, quote, it just goes to show that everybody will be good. If you're spoken to in a nice way. Yeah. I mean, he really believed in these peaceful resum. Solutions and even smaller ways like when Gorbachev visited the US during the tail end of the Cold War. He had a guest on from a Russian children's program with a translator he wanted to show kids how people can communicate from different parts of the world. And and how quote we all want friendships, and we all want to be cared for and some months later. He went to Russia and return the favor with an appearance on Russian TV. Yeah, he has his code. I love peace means far more than just the opposite of war. And there's so many more stories to tell. But maybe that's a nice place to end this for now. Well, I mean, we can in this part of the show, but there's still one more part of the show we have to get to. And that's the fact. Mr. Rogers was colorblind like literally colorblind was family also took in foster children of all races. All right. Well, here's one you should love. So Mr. Rogers was a Nafir you got up at five thirty every morning to answer mail from from viewers, and then he went swimming and every afternoon he'd tried to get in a nap tiny to figure out how to get more into my day. Right. Did you know, Mr. Rogers created his own ice cream flavor for a local dairy? No it was called blueberry go round. And it had a blueberry ripple with macaroni chunks in it. His grandmom used to make macaroni from a child. Apparently, you know. And sometimes people forget that he was a loving husband and father. So once while playing piano at an event his wife walked in the door, and he joyously stopped playing and ran to greet and embrace her the photos, he took journalists and experiences were so he could share his day with her. And after he passed she had a really hard time. Not starting her sentences with. We that's well, this is my absolutely favorite fact about him and what I wrote in mental flaws years ago, quote as an ordained, Presbyterian minister and a man of tremendous faith, Mr. Rogers, preach, tolerance, I whenever he was asked to castigate non-christians or gays for their different beliefs. He would instead face them and say with sincerity God loves you, just the way you are. I love that. And you know on this thanksgiving, what do you say instead of crowning a winner? Let's forget about the trophy today. And in this segment the way, Mr. Rogers would end some of his speeches. I like that. All right here goes all of us have special ones who have loved us into being would you just take along with us? Ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are ten seconds of silence. We'll watch the time. Thank you for listening to part time genius. And thank you for being exactly who you are. Thanks again. For listening. Hard time genius is a production of how stuff works and wouldn't be possible without several brilliant people who do the important things we couldn't even begin to understand Chris McNeil does the ending thing. Knoll Brown made. The theme song does the mixie mixie sound thing. Jerry role in does the exact producer thing. Gabe, losers are lead researcher with support from the research army, including Austin Thompson, Nolan Brown and Lucas, Adam and eve just go gets the show to your ears. Good job Eve's. If you like what you heard we hope you'll subscribe. 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