Around the Island

Coping with the crisis: What would Mister Rogers say?

“It’s all about kindness.” 

That’s what I think Fred Rogers would say. But I only knew him from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as I watched the show with my son 35 years ago.

In the last two years, there’s been a documentary and a feature film about him, both giving insight into who this man was. Was he the real deal?  Well, it looks like he was.

He and Tom Junod, the journalist whose Esquire article on Fred Rogers became the basis of the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” were close friends until Mr. Rogers’ death in 2003. Tom lives in Atlanta and has a home on Shelter Island. 

Several months ago, as the world faced the uncertainty of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Shelter Island Health and Wellness Alliance was formed to help the Island through these difficult times. Almost as a joke, one of the members lamented that Mister Rogers was no longer alive. “After all,” she said, “He would know what to say to make us all feel better.” 

We also talked about the divisiveness in the country and the toxic screeds coming from our government. We wondered what Mister Rogers would have to say.

Tom is no stranger to the Shelter Island Library programs, having just been featured with fellow journalist David Browne earlier this month to discuss rock and roll. Our group is thrilled that he has accepted our request to join the library webinar on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, from 6 to 7 p.m. to talk about his relationship with Fred Rogers. He will be interviewed by his friend and the Reporter’s very own Codger, Robert Lipsyte.

The Shelter Island Health and Wellness Alliance along with the Shelter Island Library invite everyone to participate in this special event. Please visit the Library website at: shelterislandpubliclibrary to register.

After all, this is our neighborhood.

Other members of the Shelter Island Health and Wellness Alliance include Lucille Buergers, Jessica Colas, Laurie Fanelli, Ryan Sultan, M.D., Bonnie Stockwell and Councilman Jim Colligan.