Tag: mr. rogers

Five Things I Think: The Top 5 People I Wish I Had Met

I think for each of us there have always been a few famous people we wish we could have met at some point or another before they died. Whether they were actors, musicians, presidents or athletes, there have always been people who’ve influenced us that we always wished we had rubbed elbows with but never got the chance. And I myself am no different.

So what I’ve done is compiled my own list of the top five people I wish I would have gotten the chance to meet before they went off to the great beyond. But rather than just put together a list of people you’d most likely expect to see (like say Jesus, Beethoven or Abe Lincoln) some of the people on my list come with a little twist. You see, a few of the people on my list I would have liked to have met in person and for some others, the character that they portrayed. Confused? Don’t worry, you’ll see what I mean soon enough. Enjoy!

#5. The Mad Painter: Was there ever a child who grew up in the 1970’s and watched Sesame Street that didn’t want to hang out with the guy who went around painting numbers on things without fear of retribution?

The Mad Painter was always one of my favorite shorts from the show. I didn’t care that his real intent was to actually teach me how to draw numbers properly. I just loved watching him use his old school graffiti talent and go around painting numbers on things. The world was his canvas and as an artist, what could possibly be better than that?

Who could forget the time a young Stockard Channing (who would go on to play Rizzo in the movie Grease) was having a picnic by herself while the Mad Painter used condiments to paint “3”‘s on her sandwich? Check it out here.

The Mad Painter was portrayed by Paul Benedict (1938-2008) who most people know as Harry Bentley, the neighbor of George and Weezie on “The Jeffersons”. You remember, the dude who always got the door slammed in his face by George.

#4. Mr Rogers: I don’t know about you, but I used to love watching this show too. There was something about rushing home from elementary school and watching Mr. R take off his work jacket, put on a cardigan sweater and sneakers and hang out for a while.

At one point I used to pretend to be Mr. Rogers and do his show live from the studio inside my bedroom. And I would have given up a weeks allowance to take a ride on the Trolly. As an adult now, I think I’d get a big kick out of listening to him tell stories about the show while we listened to Smooth Jazz.

Sadly, Fred Rogers passed away in 2003.

#3. Curly From The Three Stooges: They tried three times to replace him and each time failed. Nothing compared to the fun of watching Curly do his thing. The Three Stooges were a staple in my home on Sunday mornings.

I used to, and quite frankly still do, get pissed when the intro would come on and that damn Shemp’s picture was there with my boys Moe and Larry. And if Joe was in the short well, it was definitely bathroom break time.

To me, there was no better Stooge than Curly Howard (1903-1952). Whether he was making dog barking noises or getting punished by Moe that guy just had a knack for making me laugh.


#2. Dr. Seuss: Ok, now we’re starting to get to the heavy hitters. I could have spent years talking to this man about everything from Yertle The Turtle right up to the Grinch. I would want to know every detail about how he came up with such wonderful stories and characters.

I don’t think there’s ever been an author who has written children’s books in quite the same manner or continues to fascinate them more than Dr. Seuss, even twenty years after his death. I mean, this is a guy that tackled such things as the true meaning of Christmas (Grinch), prejudice/discrimination (The Sneetches) and even environmental issues (The Lorax) way before anyone else.

And finally….drum roll please…..

#1. Bob Ross: Without a doubt this is the one person that I regret not meeting most of all. All throughout the 80’s this man was a big part of my life. I used to love coming home from high school at 2:45pm just in time to watch Bob with my grandmother when his show came on the local PBS station at 3.

When I caught his show for the first time I thought there was absolutely no way anyone could paint a picture like that in 30 minutes. And yet, he took a plain white canvas and turned it into a masterpiece in less than half an hour.

He was the one who made me start picking up my own brush and palette and I’d spend countless hours reading his instructional books and painting the pictures he did.

As a teenager filled with all the emotional rage and feelings that teenage boys often carry, his “happy tree” demeanor always made me believe that anything was possible.

I’d look at my own finished work and say: “Wow, if I can paint like this, what else can I do?”

Take a peek at the master at work here.

I wish I would have gotten the chance to meet him before he died in 1995. If for nothing more than just to say… “Thanks!”

Now it’s your turn. Share some of the people you’ve always wanted to meet but never got the chance to.

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Regrets

RegretsI’ve Had a Few – Frank Sinatra

Ever have one of those days where something happens and it makes you take stock in what your life is about? I had one of those days last week from an unlikely source.

I was reading the news headlines on the Internet and came across an article that Jackie Cooper had died. Many people born post 1980 probably have no idea who Jackie Cooper is. To them, he’s just another name of another 88 year old man who died.  Someone who had some kind of celebrity status  from the “Golden Age”. Someone whose time had long since come and gone. If it’s not Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber then it’s not newsworthy to most Generation X, Y, Z  or what ever the hell they’re called these days.

For those of us born around 1969 Jackie Cooper will forever be synonymous with Our Gang and The Little Rascals. He was the boy who had the crush on Miss Crabtree. Ring a bell? How many hours after school or Saturday mornings did you spend watching him showing his affection for her?

Jackie went on to be nominated for an Academy Award at age 9. He also recieved multiple Emmy Awards for directing episodes of MASH (my grandmother always used to mention that fact when his name popped up in the credits and that’s probably another reason I like him).

But why would the death of this guy have such an effect on me? In a strange way, and even though I never met the man in my life, it made me feel like part of my childhood had died with him.  I wished at that very moment that at some point I could have gotten to meet him in person. I remember all those early years I spent watching Jackie trying to impress Miss Crabtree. A young man on his quest for unobtainable love. Maybe it was the innocence of just coming home from school and turning on the television with no other obligations or committments. And now that part of me is gone.

There are many people in my life who are/were important to me. The people in my family are ones I’m able to tell, although maybe not as often as I should. But then there are some other types with whom I have regret.  People I have never met but had a profound impact on me. Among them:

– I would have loved to have shaken hands with Bob Ross and told him how much I loved his painting. His shows brought me closer to my grandmother. It was always “our time” together after school when Bob painted. I regret not meeting him before he died in 1995.

– I would have loved to have had Dr. Seuss sign one of my Cat in the Hat books at some convention. Of course I thought he would just live forever although life has a funny way of having that effect on you. I regret he never signed a book for me.

– I would have loved to have met Mister Rogers. I would have let him know how much I enjoyed his show growing up. How I often pretended to do my own show from MY neighborhood at home. Using a bunch of old clothes and shoes in a closet I’d spend many an hour at an early age pretending I was him.  How I knew all the words to his “hello” and “goodbye” songs. To tell him that I think the reason I like jazz music no doubt started from watching his show. Fred Rogers even came to Easton one year to visit the Crayola factory and I didn’t go. He passed away a short time later. I regret never meeting Mister Rogers.

Then there are the events in my life that I initially regretted but was glad how things turned out:

– I regretted leaving West Chester University after studying music education for a year. I left because I needed to find work and for years wanted to go back and finish. It never came to be but I wonder what my life would have been like had I been able to stay. Would I have been a music teacher in some school district? Giving private lessons somewhere?

One thing I know for sure is that I would not be where I am now if I had finished. I would not be married to my current wife (we got back together a few months after I was home for good). And my daughter would probably not be here either. I do not regret leaving.

– When my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 1996 I began spending more time with him. We had been estranged for many years and it wasn’t until he got sick that we really began to reconnect again. After he passed away I regretted for the longest time not taking the initiative to see him more when I had the chance. But I eventually realized that those final years were actually the best I’ve ever spent with him. I do not regret those days.

So reading Jackie Cooper’s obituary had a two found effect on me. First of all, it gave me great “ammo” for this blog entry. But even more importantly, it made me think about where I am in life and where I’ve been.

In the future, I’ll try harder to tell people how much I care about them. I’ll also look for opportunities to tell those remaining “Jackie Coopers” how much I appreciate their work.

And I’ll look back without regret.