I'm excited to get 2010 started with a very cool piece of Mister Rogers memorabilia from some of his earliest days in children's programming. Before the holidays, Neighbor Lawrence was kind enough to contact me with some images and information about the LP titled Around the Children's Corner. Even more exciting was the digital copy of this album which Lawrence was gracious enough to share as well! First and foremost, my many thanks to Lawrence for his generosity and for taking the time to share this gem!
Around the Children's Corner was one of two full-length albums released by Josie Carey and Fred Rogers based on their Children's Corner program (the other being Tomorrow on the Children's Corner). The LP contains 19 tracks which tell the story of Josie Carey's unexpected visit to the Children's Corner.
Josie opens the album with the Why Hi Song which she sings as she swings in her neighbor's back yard. As her mother cooks hamburgers on this beautiful day, Josie suddenly finds herself swept away to the woods near some trolley tracks and a sign which reads "Welcome! You've found the Children's Corner!" Somewhat confused about her whereabouts, Josie sings a short verse of I Found the Children's Corner as she encounters Daniel Striped Tiger in his clock. During this encounter, we find out that Daniel wears a wristwatch simply because the clock he lives in does not work. As Josie becomes a bit concerned about talking with a wild animal, Daniel sings I'm Tame -- a song about his polite and friendly nature.
Comfortable with the tame tiger, Josie and Daniel talk about how much they like flowers. Josie mentions a cow she knows named Chrysanthemum. This leads into a song about the skinny cow who, unlike other cows, only eats flowers. The farmer and his wife are worried about this cow's picky eating habits and they plant a flower garden just for Chrysanthemum.
After this song, Daniel mentions his love of hamburgers: "I make hamburger pizza waldorf salad, hamburger upside-down cake, and just plain hamburgers." Daniel also reveals to Josie that she arrived in the Children's Corner by thinking 17 1/2 good thoughts in a row. X the Owl is mentioned and Daniel tells us that X used to live with him in the clock "while the great oak was growing." As Daniel goes inside to attend to a stove full of hamburgers, Josie departs to meet X the Owl.
As she approaches the oak tree, Josie sings another verse of I Found the Children's Corner about X the Owl. Surprised to be talking to an owl, Josie is met with slight sarcasm from X: "What did you expect to see in a tree? A rhinoceros?" X the Owl shares his excitement to see someone new as the Children's Corner hasn't seen any visitors in 2 1/2 inches (time is measured by the growth of the oak tree). The nature of people is called into question as he boldly states that "sometimes people are so busy they can't think 17 1/2 good thoughts in a row."
X takes an immediate liking to Josie and sings I Give a Hoot for You. Following his song, X mentions to Josie that a party will be taking place very soon to celebrate the birthday of King Friday's pet mocking bird and reads a poem that he wrote for the party. Responding to the poem about the special day, Josie sings Every Minute of Today (The Happy Song) -- a song about the importance of trying to be positive and happy every minute of the day. After Josie's song, X leaves to wrap his present for King Friday's pet.
Moving on, Josie says that she knew it was going to be a special day when she woke up that morning and sings Good Morning, God, a beautiful prayer song similar in nature to the better known Goodnight, God. Henrietta Pussycat hears the singing and catches Josie's attention. As she compliments the beautiful feline, we learn that Henrietta received her hat from Mister Rogers (who Henrietta refers to as her "boss" -- through interpretation, of course). After receiving a phone call from Daniel Tiger, Henrietta sings Meow Meow Meow Meow Beautiful, the song we've heard before which is filled with her limited vocabulary of "meow," "Mister Rogers," "beautiful," and "telephone." Busy with her own preparations for the party, Henrietta hurries away leaving Josie to move on.
Approaching the tower, Josie thinks she sees Daniel Tiger at the top, only to quickly realize that is is actually Grandpere. Josie and Grandpere sing a song together -- Vous Et Moi Ensemble (You and Me Together) -- with Grandpere's lyrics in French and Josie's in English. Following their duet, Grandpere sings a song in French about family -- Ma Famille. Finally, the two come together again to sing Les Jours De La Semaine (The Days of the Week), a song about how the days are the same in France but sound different when spoken in French.
Grandpere goes inside the tower and Josie heads towards the castle, singing another verse of I Found the Children's Corner -- this one about King Friday. As she approaches the castle, King Friday instructs her to make an appointment before she will be allowed to talk to him. Referred to as the "King of Calendarland," King Friday talks with Josie about the importance of this festive day and sings Mimus Polyglottos is My Pet -- a song we've also heard in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Josie responds with a short song about "walking mocking" which is eventually sung together with King Friday's ode to his pet.
Everyone begins to arrive for the party as King Friday and Josie sing a birthday song -- Had I On a Hat. While the title of this song does not suggest so, this song is a celebratory song about honoring a person on their birthday: "Had I on a hat, I'd take it off to you. Had I on a hat, I'd bow and curtsey, too. Had I on a hat, I'd toss it in the blue and shout a happy birthday. May your big wish come true."
The party begins and everyone comes together to sing a very fun song called We're Going to Have a Party (The Party Song). King Friday's verse includes a line of typical arrogance as he refers to his pet: "Naturally he's happy. Doesn't he belong to me?" Daniel follows with a verse about his appreciation for everyone: "Every day's a party when good friends meet in any way." Grandpere offers a verse in French and Henrietta sings a verse limited to her meager vocabulary. Finally, X wraps up the song with a verse about dancing with Henrietta.
Josie concludes her visit to the Children's Corner by singing I Found the Children's Corner in it's entirety -- a cumulative song including all of the previously sung verses built upon each other. Recalling that she needs to set the table, Josie returns home by singing Goodnight God. Back in her neighbor's yard, Josie sings So Long Goodbye and recalls fond memories of her friends in the Children's Corner.
For more on this LP, visit the Neighborhood Archive.