Yes, that’s me in the photo with Mr. Rogers. In the 1990’s, before I retired as an Early Childhood Specialist, I took my mom with me to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Anaheim, CA where Mr. Rogers was to be the keynote speaker. On the day before the evening speech, Mom and I were walking around the big almost-empty auditorium when I heard Mr. Roger’s voice somewhere behind me.
I followed that soft, kind voice and found him with David, his PR manager, both checking out the venue before the speech. I introduced myself, told him what I did for a living and how much I loved him.
My mom, who was never the meek sort, chimed in and said, “And I’m just a grandma.”
Whoa! She never expected his response. He told her that being a grandmother is one of the most important jobs in the world- how they are a major contribution to a child’s well-being – how there is a special kind of love between a child and a grandparent.
After the goosebumps settled, I said, “I wish I would have remembered to bring a camera. I would have loved to have our picture taken together.”
Mr. Rogers said, “That’s okay. David, can we use yours?”
His PR person first took a photo of Mr. Rogers and me, then Mr. Rogers insisted my mom be in the next one.
True to his word, the 5/7’s were sent to me a week later.
Mr. Rogers was a man of honor, dignity, truth, kindness, and much, much more.
But I wonder what he would be thinking now if he knew Paul Ryan has proposed budget cut including $445 million in Public Broadcasting Subsidies. Actually, I know what he would say. He did it before. When President Nixon threatened the same cut in 1968, Mr. Rogers, in his kind, eloquent way, spoke before the Senate Subcommittee.
You can see his testimony here. And it’s well worth the watch.
Long live the spirit of Mr. Fred Rogers!