“Mister Rogers didn’t reinvent puppetry or do anything particularly flashy with it,” Gavin Edwards writes in the fifth “way to live like Mister Rogers” in his book “Kindness and Wonder.” (To connect with other posts on the other ways, use the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” tag below or click underlined sections.)
“Many young viewers had no idea that the kind man in the sweater was also doing most of the puppet voices in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe,” Edwards adds.
In the spirit of last week’s post, “Tell the truth,” I need to admit that this was one of many lovable things I learned for the first time when I went to see the 2018 documentary film, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
As a child, what mattered to me was smiling at silly Henrietta Pussycat and fancy X the Owl, wondering what King Friday XIII would do next, and learning that shy, worn-out-looking Daniel Striped Tiger (pronounced Stripe-ed) could admit to emotions and still find help and love. I guess I eventually knew they didn’t have voices of their own, but it didn’t matter who made those voices.
Mister Rogers wasn’t a teacher as much as a guide, someone who would try things and patiently learn about them, even about how things would go wrong.
After all, he had Picture Picture, the frame on the wall, to help explain things. Picture Picture would display what we’d now recognize as a text message, usually Hi!, or show short films about how things worked or what they were — more than 25 years before videos and text messages became common ways to connect with people.
Mister Rogers knew little children could be reached with short notes and simple videos. Is that part of why we’re so fond of texts and videos? Are we all longing to carry around Picture Picture?
Wouldn’t it be a beautiful day if we could?
Margaret Serious has a page on Facebook.
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