Last summer Anne and I had the pleasure of seeing the 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, in which filmmaker Morgan Neville extolled the virtues of Fred Rogers and the PBS childhood series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood that was an integral childhood touchstone, surrogate parent, and best friends for millions of American children (e.g. my lovely wife), many of whom are now adults remembering when civility, friendliness, and neighborly love were virtues rather than optional baggage. To be honest, I was more deeply moved by PBS’ own documentary Mister Rogers: It’s You I Like, aired a few months before Neville’s take hit theaters, but both are worthy in their own ways.
A few days ago I may have gotten a little testy in a way that would’ve disappointed Mister Rogers when I noted that the MCC entry about Won’t You Be My Neighbor? earned exactly zero Likes from other WordPress users. Either my writing about the experience was terrible, or, as I joked in partial self-deprecation, “apparently bloggers hate Mister Rogers. Duly noted.”
If my snark was too on-the-nose and you really do consider Mister Rogers to be an enemy of all humankind and kindness to be obsolete hogwash…then this entry isn’t for you either. You’re loved anyway.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. Normally we’ll choose one major locale as our primary objective, drive that-a-way, and concentrate on exploring the vicinity for a few days before retreating.
We crafted this year’s itinerary with a different approach. Instead of choosing one city as a hub, we focused on one of the motifs that’s recurred through several of our trips: grave sites of Presidents of the United States of America. Our 2018 road trip would effectively have the format and feel of a video game side quest — collecting nine American Presidents across ten presidencies, four states, seven days, and 2000 miles…
Though the inside peek at the wild world of condiments at the Heinz History Museum was unexpectedly educational, our primary objective was a special exhibit celebrating hometown legend Fred Rogers. It ranked high on Anne’s to-do list as soon as she learned of it. Honestly, the Mister Rogers Televisual Universe would figure into our travels a lot more often if he’d spread out his legacy a bit more beyond Pittsburgh. Anne even met one of his costars at a convention once.
Rogers had occupied a small booth among the museum’s permanent exhibits for years, but had his space expanded in 2015 after they acquired several artifacts from storage at an Oakland PBS affiliate. We didn’t have time to hang around in Piitsburgh too long last year. This year, we made time for Mister Rogers.
But wait! There’s more!
Before we arrived at the museum Friday morning, we first made a quick stop on Pittsburgh’s south side to see a thematically relevant roadside attraction: Fredosaurus Rex Friday XIII. The creation of artist Karen Howell, Fredo was part of a 2003 art installation at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History called “DinoMite Days”. He was soon deemed one of the greatest dinosaur statues in American history and kept around Pittsburgh in perpetuity well after the exhibit ended.
Frankly, he wasn’t easy to find. Google Maps sent us down a network of one-lane alleys that were uncomfortable to squeeze through in a rental SUV. But find him we did, though to get pics we had to park in front of a printing business whose signs threatened to sic tow trucks on us if we’d stuck around till they opened. We didn’t need that long to say hi to their much friendlier neighbor.
To be continued!
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