More and more I realise I missed out on the spectactularly wonderful influence of Mister Rogers growing up. Then again, I’m still happy I grew up in the 80’s, before the TV was truly infested with TellyTubbies and Woogie Poogies or whatever shite they’re spraying over the airwaves these days.
Maxwell King, the former director of the Fred Rogers Center and author of the forthcoming book The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers, shared an excerpt of the book with The Atlantic about how much attention Rogers paid to how children would hear the language on the show. For instance, he changed the lyrics on Friday’s installment of the “Tomorrow” song he sang at the end of each show to reflect that the show didn’t air on Saturdays.
Rogers was so meticulous in his process for translating ideas so they could be easily understood by children that a pair of writers on the show came up with a nine-step process that he used to translate from normal English into “Freddish”, the special language he used when speaking to children.
Kottke’s summary was a delight to read and I’m looking forward to reading the book itself.