Fred Rogers died last night. His last new show appeared in early September 2001, but since the show ran for 34 years, he's one of the few constants for countless millions who grew up in the last four decades. He's one thing we all have in common; people a few years older than me, too old to have watched him themselves, probably set their kids down in front of his show.
I met Mister Rogers a few times, and somewhere have a couple of books he autographed for me in the early '80s. My mom thought it was silly that I wanted to go to his book signing, and wanted his books, as a "big kid" or teenager. Never mind that the line (at a couple of booksellers conventions) mostly held young parents or grandparents and a handful of young kids.
When I also met him in a hotel elevator and chatted briefly with him, it was obvious that his public persona was exactly who he really was. CNN talks about him being an ordained minister with a real innocence, who said kids can spot a phony a mile away, and I get it. He was a truly warm man even with no lights in sight.