I grew up in Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.
Honestly. Right up the street from his house. I never saw him, even though we were always outside when we were kids, riding our skateboards down the hill (I lost mine in the sewer at the bottom of the street. Twice.) or playing Hide 'n Go Seek or turtle hopscotch. Every Halloween, we would go trick or treating at his house. But he never answered the door. In my memory, the house is dark and empty, but I think that I must not be remembering correctly, because I can't believe that there would have been no one home to hand out candy.
Most years, it was cold and rainy. We would collect as much as we could, and then go home, dump our pillow cases of loot out on the floor in the living room, and admire our collection while drinking hot chocolate in front of the fire. If I had some Bonamo Taffy, I could smack the bar on the tiles of the hearth so that it would break into tiny shards of banana-flavored taffy, chewy and more than ready to pull your fillings out.
In honor of Halloween and Mr. Rogers, here are some pictures of the Mr. Rogers display at the airport in Pittsburgh. I think of it as a shrine to the man, and I visit it every time I pass through this airport. I admire Mr. Rogers for his gentle persona and his work (I have a friend who has a theory that Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was for the parents and not for the kids, giving moms and dads a few moments of peace and calm amidst the furor of raising a family) and I think that a world where kindness and compassion and friends and knitting are foregrounded would be a very good world indeed. Our favorite character is Daniel Tiger, but I love the tennis shoes and the other puppets and the trolley, too. Somehow, I didn't take a picture of Mr. Rogers' sweater, but it's a grey-blue cardigan with, I think, wooden buttons, and knit by his mom.