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Mr. Rogers’ Rides

from The Drive

Parked in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: What Fred Rogers Taught Us About Cars

Though rarely center stage, automobiles played a quiet but crucial role on the iconic children’s TV show.

BY JOE LIGO

Despite growing up in a wealthy family and being taken to school by the family driver in a Cadillac, Fred McFeely Rogers—known as Mister Rogers to most of us —never appeared to have developed a taste for exotic or expensive things. As the nationally-known host of the PBS children’s program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and perhaps one of the most universally adored public figures in the country, Fred’s personal life was strikingly modest. He seemed the least likely person you’d expect to be interested in cars.

And yet: take a wider view, and his program showed children that the automobile is a fixture in modern American life over the second half of the 20th century, introducing them to everything from seat belts to automated car washes to early EV efforts. Fred Rogers himself wasn’t much of a gearhead, but he knew just as much as anyone how much emotion can be wrapped up in a car, quietly maintaining a 1928 Ford Model A Sport Coupe over the decades that had been given to him by his parents. 

In reality, a survey of the 900+ episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood indicates that Fred understood there are lots of kids (and adults) who love anything with wheels. So with help from the invaluable NeighborhoodArchive.com and a few phone calls with Rogers’ former producer Margy Whitmer and former co-star/company PR rep David Newell, let’s dive into the automotive world of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

[ click to continue reading at The Drive ]

Posted on June 29, 2022 by Editor

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