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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Do you remember....

... the Telecan booth?

At least that's what I call it. I seem to remember that most of the Neighborhood of Make Believe used tin cans for phones, or the telecan, as they were called, though Miss Paulificate uses a very traditional telephone, as does Daniel (in episode 1509 at least). Normally the telecan's would be at each characters individual home. Someone needing to make a call would just reach below the set and retrieve a can on a string and place the call. But usually if it was one of the human characters who needed to make the call, they'd go to the telecan booth. This very 70's contraption, is something I remember seeing quite a bit back when I was younger. I had thought that it was relegated to those older episodes and no longer shown in the current batch, when lo and behold, during the Music episode, # 1550, Lady Aberlin uses the "booth" to phone Westwood. She simply walks over to an empty space in front of X and Henrietta's tree, looks up and the thing lowers out of the sky. The booth itself is comprised of several orange and brown (or are they pink and black?) vertical shapes arranged around hoops to give it a roughly cylinderical feel. The lowest hoop seems to be at Lady A's chest, so it reminds me of an old fashioned diving bell, enveloping the users upper body in a protective bubble. She reaches up and pulls a white tin can on a cord from the top of the booth As she talks she kind of leans on that lower hoop and you can see the booth move and sway on whatever it's hanging from. Then when she's done she returns the can to it's place and lifts the booth over her head as she exits. It then silently raises out of camera view.

One thing I always noticed as a kid was the noise that the can made as someone would pull it from the top of the booth. You could tell that the cord that it was on was retractable by the sounds that it made coming out and going back into place. In fact, Lady A very clearly holds the can tightly as it retracts and I would suspect that if she didn't the thing would have been snatched back and probably made quite a bit of noise.

Does anyone else have any memories of the Telecan Booth? How about it's first introduction? Did Corny make it? Did it just appear one day? Does anyone remember any sort of call or rhyme that they used to use to summon the booth? I can't remember if there was one or not. Let us know!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Episode 1479 - Divorce

Original Air Date: February 19, 1981

For details on Episode 1479, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Purple Panda's Perplexing Package

First, I'd like to say thank you to Tim for extending his invitation to me to contribute to his blog. I'm exceedingly proud to be able to contribute in some small way to spreading the great things that Mister Rogers Neighborhood has given me. Actually, that makes it sound like all my posts will be really deep memorable things, which probably couldn't be further from the truth. Oh well, anything can happen in make-believe.

I've been agonizing over what my first post should be. I wanted it to be something interesting, but different from the sort of thing that Tim has done before. I was developing some ideas, but nothing was quite ready to post. Then as I was browsing blogs the other day I found my subject. First a little backstory though:

In episode 1696, Mr. McFeely is trying to deliver a mysterious package to Purple Panda. This package is in the form of a knobby orange ball, and has the words "Do Not Open" written across it.

I've always idly wondered where the prop people for the Mister Rogers Neighborhood got this unusual ball, though it wasn't farfetched to believe that they simply went down to the local toy store and picked up something off the shelf. But at the time, I was a kid and pretty much new what toys were out there. So like I said, I was browsing one of the blogs I frequent, Dinosaurs and Robots, and came across a post for "Bump Ball" a toy that was made by Milton Bradley in the 60's.

As soon as I saw this, I knew it must be what was used for Purple Panda's package. Besides the obvious similarity in color, it had the same knobby protrusions. However on preparing this post, I went and gathered the screenshots you see here, and notice that the Neighborhood version has a detail I hadn't noticed: it almost has veins running along it's surface. The pattern they follow reminds me of the stitching on a baseball, almost as if the Neighborhood ball was pieced together from fabric and then perhaps covered with a thin rubber skin. So was I wrong and this wasn't in fact an off the 1960's shelf Bump Ball? I wonder if perhaps the Neighborhood people took a Bump Ball and then cast it, or covered it to make their prop, adding these seams.

Throughout the week's episodes, the Package changes- whenever someone throws it up in the air 2 times, it disappears and then reappears sporting a new patch of color. Since the Make Believe portions of the show were usually all filmed together, it makes sense that several of these packages would be made, instead of one package which would have to be painstakingly painted each time it changed. I don't know what to think. I am still pretty convinced that in some form, this Bump Ball was the basis for the Package. The proportions are just too similar to be a coincidence. I wonder if in fact Milton Bradley produced a later version, maybe in the 80's that had these added seams on it's surface. One things for sure: anything from Planet Purple is sure to be interesting. But that's a post for another time...

*Edit 6-3-09
Upon watching this episode again, it turns out that this package may not actually be from Planet Purple. Queen Sara is first seen asking Mr. McFeely to deliver it to Purple Panda, but it doesn't sound like she's it's sender either. Unless I missed something, the true sender is never mentioned.- Eric

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Goodnight God Sheet Music [1955]

This very nice piece of Mister Rogers history showed up on eBay this past week. What you see is a copy of the sheet music published in 1955 for the Children's Corner song Goodnight God. You may remember this song title appearing later on the LP King Friday XIII Celebrates. This song is also sung in the fifth episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

If you look closely at this cover, you'll see that the lyrics are credited to Josie Carey and the music to Fred Rogers. At the same time, however, the performance credit is given to Daniel S. Tiger and Josie Carey. Measuring 9"x11", this sheet music was publised by Tee Kaye Music Corp.

With this in mind, what better on a Sunday than a quick read through the lyrics to Goodnight God...

Goodnight, God, and thank you for this very lovely day.
Thank you, too, for helping us at work and at our play.
Thank you for our families. For each and every friend.
Forgive us, please, for anything we've done that might offend.
Keep us safe and faithful, God. Tell us what to do.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Episode 1478 - Divorce

Original Air Date: February 18, 1981

For details on Episode 1478, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Video footage response

After being contacted by Family Communications via YouTube, I felt the need to express my disappointment to FCI regarding the copyright claim filed in response to the few video clips I had shared. My thoughts were much like those of many of you -- why in the world would FCI not be completely supportive of Mister Rogers material being presented in a positive light such as it is through this website (especially at a time when the program is being removed from most regular PBS broadcasts)? I was both baffled and somewhat irritated by what appeared to be a company greedily clinging to something that I felt should be shared freely. I received a very prompt reply to my contact with FCI and would like to take this opportunity to recognize that I could not have been more wrong.

Family Communications is indeed working diligently to establish a means of continuing the broadcast and distribution of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Along the way, however, there are a few significant speedbumps that must be considered and overcome in order for such a thing to happen on a public scale outside of the remaining broadcasts on PBS. I will leave the details of these obstacles to FCI to share if/as they see fit.

From my perspective, I had not considered these obstacles which present FCI with the need to eliminate online distribution of the Neighborhood program. Please allow me to express my appreciation for the dedicated staff at Family Communications and my regret for hastily jumping to conclusions regarding the mass sharing of video footage. I fully understand and support the position of Family Communications.

One thing that was also touched upon in the response I received from FCI was that the weekend schedule for the coming year of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has not yet been finalized. As the Neighborhood moves into what will likely be its final year of broadcasts on PBS, episodes on most stations will be limited to one episode per week. As was mentioned to me, PBS and FCI would welcome suggestions from people on their favorite episodes as this schedule is finalized.

Again, I could not have been more wrong about the position of FCI regarding the sharing of video footage from the program. To the individual from FCI who graciously took the time to discuss this matter with me, I offer you my sincere thanks.


On a side note, I'd like to welcome a "new" voice to the Neighborhood Archive. You may have read some of the comments left on this site by Eric Scales -- always full of insight and interesting commentary on the various posts. I have invited Eric onboard as a co-author of this site and welcome him to contribute in any way he sees fit. I look forward to working with Eric as this site continues to grow and provide an online resource of all things Mister Rogers.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Episode 1477 - Divorce

Original Air Date: February 17, 1981

For details on Episode 1477, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Video footage

Apparently Family Communications is not okay with clips found on YouTube so any videoes I have uploaded for the purpose of this blog have now been removed. My apologies to readers for having to remove these and to FCI for my mistaken assumption that these clips were okay to share.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Episode 1476 - Divorce

Original Air Date: February 16, 1981

For details on Episode 1476, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Johnny Costa Plays LP [1986]

Back in 1986 an LP was released by Johnny Costa featuring his piano interpretations of many popular songs from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood -- the album was appropriately titled Johnny Costa Plays Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Eugene Chadbourne of the All Music Guide comments that "If jazzing something up means to make it more lively and more entertaining, then listeners who might run for their lives if the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood show came on might be convinced that a fine jazz pianist such as Johnny Costa could make exciting music out of the Fred Rogers songbook."

As Chadbourne's review continues, I found this to be especially interesting: "All kidding aside, the long collaboration between host and show pianist was a fruitful one, and this disc -- although obviously not the most well-known or popular part of the legacy -- will be of interest to fans of jazz... piano. An interesting challenge to Costa was the decision to do such a large number of tunes, and to keep the versions in the two- to three-minute realm. Normally a jazz piano trio would play numbers about double this length."

If you have the means to get ahold of a copy of this album, I would highly recommend it. You'll find your toe tapping within seconds of the albums opening. I've seen this album show up on eBay a few times over the past several months selling for prices ranging from $30-$60. Included on this album are thirteen well-known Mister Rogers numbers that you're sure to enjoy if you're able to locate this fine compilation from the legendary Johnny Costa.
  1. Won't You Be My Neighbor?
  2. You Are Special
  3. It's You I Like
  4. Sometimes People Are Good
  5. What Do You Do?
  6. I Like to Take My Time
  7. Everybody's Fancy
  8. Please Don't Think It's Funny
  9. Something to Do While We're Waiting
  10. Many Ways to Say I Love You
  11. Then Your Heart Is Full of Love
  12. Did You Know
  13. It's Such a Good Feeling
For more on Johnny Costa, please visit
For more on this LP, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ideal Puppets [1977]

With the recent mentions of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe Playset and the Musical Trolley, I figured I might as well go ahead and post some pictures of the puppets produced by Ideal during this same time period in the late 1970's. These images are some that have showed up on eBay over the past few months as well as a few contributed by readers. To my knowledge, there were three puppets produced at this time: X the Owl, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, and King Friday XIII.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Going to Marry Mom

Happy Mother's Day...

[Image from Mister Rogers: Good Neighbor to America's Children]

"Going to Marry Mom"

From Won't You Be My Neighbor
One day I said, "I'm really going to marry"

My mom.
I told my mom I'm really going to marry

She smiled, didn't laugh, said "I hope you will marry

Maybe somone like me."
"But you see," she said, "I'm already married"

I'm married to your daddy.
And as you grow more and more like your daddy

You'll find a lady like me.
And she'll love you as I love your daddy

And she will marry you.
Then she will be the wife and the mother

Of your own family.
And I hope you will have little chidren

And they will be like you.
Cause Mothers and Dads have special love for children

Especially children like you.
That's what Mom said when I told her I would marry her.
I'm glad I told her 'cause I really often wondered

Who my wife would be.
Now I'll just wait and look for my lady

And I'll just wait and see.
And I will grow up just like my daddy

And my wife'll be looking for me.
And when I get married my Mom'll be the Granny

The prettiest Granny in town.
It all works out if you talk and you listen

And your mother cares about you.
It all works out if you talk and you listen

'Cause someone cares about you.

Yes, someone cares about you.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hang in there...

Hang tight, folks. I'll be back in the swing of things soon!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Episode 1495 - Discipline

Original Air Date: March 5, 1982

For details on Episode 1495, visit the Neighborhood Archive.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Artistic tribute

I enjoy contributions from readers for two reasons. First, it reminds me that there are other folks out there with an appreciation for the work of Fred Rogers. Second, it means that one day's post is taken care of during this busy time of year!

Today's post come to us from Neighbor Sarah Jo who has generously provided us with a very cool sample of her artistic talent. Many thanks for sharing, Sarah Jo!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Episode 1494 - Discipline

Original Air Date: March 4, 1982

For details on Episode 1494, visit the Neighborhood Archive.