Jeremiah's School of Levitation


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's A Frightening Day in the Neighborhood

As my dentist was grinding away at my teeth, whittling away years of enamel, I heard the dental assistant say over the whirring drill, "Hey, did you know that Mr. Rogers, before he hosted the children's show, was actually a sniper in the Vietnam War? Yeah. He apparently killed over a dozen people. And, you know why he wore those cardigans? That's because his arms were covered with tattoos. Really!"

I nearly believed it. I mean, first of all, the dark comic possibilities there are rich. Imagine Mr. Rogers, at his post, looking down the barrel, and seeing an enemy soldier drifting into his range. Mr. Rogers sprouts a grin, and settles his cheek upon the cool metal of his rifle. He winks one eye as he takes aim. "Hello, neighbor," he says, as he squeezes the trigger. "Welcome to my neighborhood."

But, alas, it is not to be, for I proclaimed, as soon as I could close my mouth again, some twenty minutes later, that I have moved that little factoid to number one on My List of Things To Google (replacing "Mary Ann" "Gilligan's Island" "whatever happened"). And, I found out that this was just yet another urban myth. In fact, Fred Rogers entered broadcasting as soon as he graduated college in 1951, at the age of 23, and practically never left the business for 50 years. The only time he wasn't broadcasting, he was learning to become an ordained minister.

So, though it would have been a spicy novelty to know that Mr. Rogers used to kill, it is quite untrue. In fact, he would have been too old to fight in Vietnam anyway, seeing that he was born in 1928.

Still, I welcome any such rumor that will place my heroes on a different plane, especially one that completely belies their persona. I think, by the way, that's why the Mr. Rogers as sniper legend was so tasty--it ran so incredibly contrary to the qualuudically-calm man a lot of us spent quite a few hours with, that it almost seemed believable that he harbored a dark side because, in the end, who the hell could really be so nice? On only a slightly less jagged portrayal, I remember Eddie Murphy parodying Mr. Rogers in his character Mr. Robinson, who was always dodging the landlord via the fire escape. Same principle. Mr. Rogers running from debt collectors was so outrageously against his proclivities that it was funny.

Looks like Mr. Rogers was the real thing, though. No kills. And, cardigans just for comfort.

Though, from my research, I seem to have uncovered that a distant relative of Mr. Rogers used to live in London, around the time of the Jack the Ripper killings, and that if you study the shots of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood at the beginning of the program, you'll see that it was modelled after the area that the young ladies were found, and if you look even closer, there is a red car parked at the spots where a body...
Jeremiah, 1:36 AM

3 Back at me:

What about Captain Kangaroo? Weren't he and Mr. Green Jeans a coupla thugs?
Blogger Mona Buonanotte, at 3:51 AM  
Yeah and don't forget that devilish madame with the little Lammykins puppet...
Blogger Maggie, at 6:28 AM  
And all I heard was that he was a pedophile. Some people have too much time on their hands and need to invent stuff, I guess.

That you talked about Gilligan was weird... I was talking to my house mate about him about a week ago. He Googled him. Seems he's dead now... after 4 wives! (I don't believe it was a cause and effect thing, though...)
Blogger Sarah Elaine, at 6:43 PM  

Say sump-tun