The pastor had a friend, a pious businessman who lived in Connecticut. Though very successful, he was being tugged to make a change. That wasn’t what his wife wanted to hear, especially when a Pittsburgh company showed interest. Her image of Pittsburgh was smoky, rusty, and smelly. She and her husband prayed for guidance. It would be in God’s hands.
The husband liked what he saw, and the company liked him. Mom and the kids would be a tough sell. The company flew them in, as mom prayed for a sign.
When they landed at Pittsburgh International, she was sure the sign had come: a giant “no way.” Their youngest child had vanished. They frantically searched the airport, shouting his name. Just then, mom spotted her son wide-eyed speaking to a gaunt man in an overcoat. She assumed the worst and readied to scold the stranger … until she saw his face. It was Mister Rogers.
In that trademark voice, he tenderly explained to the mom that her little boy, who he identified by name, had told him his concerns about moving. Mister Rogers explained that although moving can be difficult, it’s often for the better, for dad, for mom, for the children. The boy would adjust, make new friends, and so on.
Mom got her sign. It was not only a man of the cloth (Rogers was an ordained minister) but … well, Mister Rogers. Could there be a better ambassador?
The family moved, and grew to like Pittsburgh—that is, Mister Rogers’ neighborhood.
You want unity, Pittsburgh? Fred Rogers represented it.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."