Monday, November 29, 2010

Neighbor Scott’s Pittsburgh Visit

Many thanks to guest blogger, Scott...

Three weeks ago, my family and I drove out to Pittsburgh to see some of the Mister Rogers attractions. I received the idea to visit Pittsburgh from David Newell, who appeared at my church as Mr. McFeely during the summer. While driving around with him for two days, he suggested that Pittsburgh would be a good family vacation destination. And so we took him up on the suggestion and planned a Pittsburgh trip.

Our young children (2yrs and 3yrs) are huge MRN fans. Since our trip coincided with our younger son’s 2nd birthday, we spent his actual birthday at the Monroeville Mall Play area, documented on the Neighborhood Archive Blog. I learned about the playground from Tim’s blog—thanks Tim for reporting it! We enjoyed a Mrs. Field’s Cookie Birthday Cake at the Mall. Sarah, a Mrs. Field’s employee, did a great job putting the Neighborhood Trolley on the cookie.

We stayed in Pittsburgh for 3 full days. During that time, we visited the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, which features an interactive MRN exhibit. We also visited the Heinz History Museum, a fascinating museum which even included a newly completed life-sized wax statue of Fred. Our boys really enjoyed looking (and climbing) on the Fred Rogers statue on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. Last but not least, we were even able to visit WQED.

Pittsburgh is definitely a Mister Rogers’ town. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing his picture. For example, for lunch one day we ate at Primanti Brothers, a famous Pittsburgh sandwich restaurant. Guess whose cartoon picture we saw on the wall, with lots of other famous Pittsburgh citizens?

Since our boys love trolleys, on the way out of town, we stopped by the PA Trolley Museum in Washington, PA. Mister Rogers visited this museum in episode 1531. Jack, our tour guide, pointed to us the exact trolley Mister Rogers drove on the episode.

There were a few more MRN theme attracts that we weren’t able to see. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the MRN planetarium exhibit (at Carnegie Science Center) since the show times/dates didn’t coincide with the dates we were in town. The miniature railroad, also at Carnegie, was closed for remodeling. There is supposed to be a miniature version of Mister Rogers’ House on the layout. Of course, Idlewood Park was closed for the season. Idlewood has a MRN themed ride. I called the Fred Rogers Center in Latrobe, and the employee there was very honest with me and said that there wasn’t much available for the public to see, so it probably wasn’t worth the 45 minute trip.

Pittsburgh is a great family town. If you’re interested in taking a trip out East, I’d recommend spending a few days visiting the MRN and other attractions. You won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Learned From Mister Rogers

Episode 1386 of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood [May 13, 1974] features a visit to Bob Trow's workshop where Mr. Trow is demonstrating the art of screenprinting. Helping him in his workshop that day is Marion Young. Later in the episode, Mrs. Young stops by Mister Rogers' house to show a short film about a kindergarten class. Throughout the program, Mrs. Young's message is clear -- not only do children learn from teachers, but teachers learn from children, as well. Additionally, Mrs. Young set out to help ease the anxieties and worries that young children may experience as they start school.

I recently had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with Mrs. Young about her appearance on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Today, at the age of 76, Mrs. Young holds dearly her memories of Fred Rogers and his work with children. Many thanks to you, Mrs. Young, for generously sharing your time and your story.

For a complete transcript of our brief but touching conversation, visit

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kitchen Pictures, Pt. 2

Thanks to the keen eyes and sharp memories of a few readers, one question has been answered regarding the pictures hanging in the kitchen. Looking back at the very first episode (one which I hadn't seen in quite some time), sure enough Mister Rogers goes to his "map" to show viewers the way to Mrs. Russelite's house.

Now if someone can just point me in the right direction with this third picture with the yellow border, we can put this curiosity to rest...

Kitchen Pictures

A few weeks ago, Neighbor Scott left a comment when we looked at Episode 1390. He asked about the two pictures that hang in Mister Rogers' kitchen on either side of the refrigerator. Scott's comment/question:
Ever notice the picture on the right side of the fridge in the kitchen? It changed to a picture of the "modern" neighborhood model (ushered in with blue walls). But it reverted back to the older picture very shortly--probably in 1979 when production resumed after a few years off. Anyone ever do a screen shot of that older picture and blow it up to figure out what neighborhood model it depicted (i.e. the b/w years, the early color years?) I wonder why that picture only changes for a short time.
There are a few things that we know for certain. The picture that most often hangs on the right side of the refrigerator goes all the way back to the earliest episodes. In Episode 0002, Mister Rogers shows this picture which depicts the Neighborhood of Make-Believe as it is arranged throughout a majority of the MRN episodes. In Episode 0002, the picture was hung in the kitchen to the right of the refrigerator.

At some point over the next few years, a second picture was added to the left side of the refrigerator -- possibly as part of an episode storyline. The picture is seen below in screenshots taken from Episode 1070 and Episode 1235.

As far as I can tell, these pictures stayed put for the next few years until Episode 1326. This is the point where Mister Rogers paints the walls of the house blue. As you can see below in the screenshot from Episode 1329, the NOM picture on the right side of the refrigerator has been moved to the left.

But the pictures didn't just swap locations. As can be seen in the screenshot from Episode 1446, the other picture was replaced.

Then in 1979, as the "modern" episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood began, the first two pictures were back in their original locations (screenshot below from Episode 1461).

Curiously, these pictures continued to jump around as they can be seen in Episode 1758 in opposite locations, yet again.

So location questions aside, what are these pictures that Mister Rogers has hanging in his kitchen? Well the first, the picture from Episode 0002, is clearly the modern Neighborhood of Make-Believe. But the other two are a bit more difficult to recognize.

The other drawing/painting appears to be a landscape of some sort but not anything I immediately recongize from the Neighborhood program. The photograph with the yellow border, on the other hand, shows a street lined with buildings. Is this a shot of the Neighborhood model used during the show's opening and closing? Or maybe an arial image of an actual street?

As I continue to go back and document episodes of MRN (still a LONG way to go), I will definitely be looking out for any close-up shots of these pictures. In the meantime, if anybody has any details about these pictures, please chime in!