Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mr. Rogers in words 10 years later - by Tom Junod & others

I earlier today saw on Twitter two posts from Esquire Magazine writer Tom Junod that struck me as powerful and sent me off in search of more about Mr. Rogers as the subject...

"Fred Rogers died ten years ago today. I've only met two or three great men in my life, and he was one of them." 

"Fred Rogers used to bring crowds to tears by asking them to be silent for a minute, and to think of someone who made them who they are. RIP."

Just captivating words from Junod and they reminded me of how I previously had seen the profile "Can You Say... Hero?" he wrote on Rogers. Published by Esquire in 1998, I read it last year linked to from Oregonian writer Anna Griffin and her blog of great writing. I didn't write about the Junod piece at the time, but seeing the depth of feeling conveyed in these tweets from Junod compelled me to read it again this morning and it really is a powerful story about Rogers.

In addition to the tweets and actual profile (which isn't on the Esquire site anymore as the profile included in the 80 Greatest Esquire Stories eBook- hence the odd site linked to), I found several other compelling pieces about Mr. Rogers both by Junod and related to his profile written. For the Nieman Storyboard series on great writing done, Susannah Breslin wrote "Why's This So Good? Tom Junod on Mr. Rogers and Grace" and I found noteworthy the following passage from Breslin...

"The story works because it speaks to you as if you are the child you once were. It refuses to be snarky and dares to move you."

Going back to Rogers himself were two other pieces of writing that reinforced the depth of caring in the man. The first was by Junod again with his 2003 "Remembering Mister Rogers" and the second was by Brendan Vaughn in 2006 for the New York Times. Titled "Rogers and Me", it's about the book I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan and an interesting story on Madigan and his relationship with Rogers if for reason other than it's from someone in addition to Junod writing about who Rogers was.

To this point, video of the 1997 Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award speech by Rogers that Junod references was compelling (and not just to see the hairstyles worn then) and insightful about the man, what he tried to do with others and the impact that had on people...