Author Topic: My mother and the Rogers  (Read 2234 times)

DHumphrey

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My mother and the Rogers
« on: May 18, 2016, 02:58:37 AM »
I grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood knowing that my mother was somehow connected to it.

She is now 90 and her mind is still sharp as a tack, so I can still ask my mom questions about that magical time back in the 1950s, but I wanted to write my own account based on what I heard over the years and see if I can find out any more information.  In the meantime, I spoke to my mother and updated the text below to add a few more details from her.

My mother, Patricia (Hamilton) Humphrey, was an art teacher in a Pittsburgh school in the early 1950s when she and other teachers were recruited to help put together The Children's Corner at WQED.  She appeared on-camera in a segment called Doodle and Do in which she taught arts and crafts.  She would teach school all day and then head into the studio in the late afternoon when she went on live three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).  She told me that Fred back then was always behind the scenes and not in front of the camera.  Her involvement was for four and a half years, interrupted by a two-year hiatus to Maryland where my dad was stationed in the army.  I have scoured the internet looking for photos from that time, and that's how I landed here.

I wonder if anyone has documents or photos from that time that mention my mother?

I met Fred one time when we went to visit him in the studio in Pittsburgh when I was about 5 or 6.  I was thrilled to see the set of the show that I had grown to know and love!  It all looked so different in real life!  There was a piano to the side and I was shown which key to play to make the trolley sound.  I was fascinated by the fact that a piano can do sound effects, and I started piano lessons shortly after.  Forty-six years later I still play the piano every day.

Fred Rogers played the organ at my parents' wedding in Monongahela in September 1955.  I have a photo of Fred and Joanne that my dad took at their house on Nantucket.  Joanne is holding a baby, so it must be from the early 1960s.  I'd like to post it, but I can't figure out how.

One anecdote I remember is of my parents visiting Fred and Joanne in Pittsburgh on a Sunday morning.  While they were there, a house guest came downstairs, said hello briefly, was not too friendly, and then disappeared.  My mom recognized him immediately as Van Cliburn.  Cliburn's big year in Moscow and his NY ticker-tape parade were in 1958, so this visit was probably just a year or two later.

In the 1980s, my father was afflicted with dementia at the very early age of 50.  He lost his job just as my sister and I were both in college.  These were tough times for my family.  The pastor of our church called one day and told my mother that someone anonymously had donated some money to the church, but that the sum was "earmarked" for her.  Later, the pastor told her the person was Fred Rogers.

Greetings to all from Germany,

David Humphrey
« Last Edit: May 18, 2016, 10:18:03 AM by DHumphrey »

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Re: My mother and the Rogers
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2016, 07:57:37 AM »
Here's what little I do have from the Children's Corner at this time: http://www.neighborhoodarchive.com/cc/

Every once in a while, I come across something new but it seems that there wasn't much out there in the way of any sort of memorabilia. Not much that's survived the years, at least.

What great stories your mother must have!

DHumphrey

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Re: My mother and the Rogers
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2016, 08:15:11 AM »
Thanks for this!  I'm going to call my mother today and ask her some more questions about that time...

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Re: My mother and the Rogers
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2016, 01:46:09 PM »
If you've got anything you're willing to share that you mother has held onto, I'd be more than happy to share it through the site! Drop me an email through the contact link on NeighborhoodArchive.com if you'd like...