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Neighbor Profile: Aaron Schuelke

I've had this idea in the back of my mind for quite some time -- sharing brief profiles of other Neighborhood fans. Who better to get this off the ground than Aaron Schuelke. Aaron has been a strong supporter of the Neighborhood Archive for quite some time and I am glad to share his thoughts on and memories of the Neighborhood.

1. When / how did you become a fan of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood?

If I had to guess when I first started watching MRN, I'd say it was probably back in 1983 or 1984 when I was 2 or 3. I'm guessing my parents turned on PBS around "Sesame Street" time, and, at least in our television market, MRN would be aired right afterward. For obvious reasons, it was a very good 90 minute block of programming for a 3 or 4 year old, so I'm certain they were happy to have it on. I'm not sure what it was exactly about the program that caught my attention, but not long after I started watching, I became hooked. I would even act out certain elements of the program like changing my shoes. As a matter of fact, my mother actually knit me a sweater like Fred wore. I'll have to find that and send a picture. She did a very nice job with it. One thing about the program that -- as you know, Tim -- I was fascinated with, was the model neighborhood at the beginning and ending of each episode. My dad, who is quite handy, actually recreated a majority of the buildings out of wood for me. I'd set them up in the living room and then I would pretend I had a video camera and "film" the intro. I wrote letters to Family Communications requesting detailed photos of the model. They were kind enough to send me a print of the cover of the "A Place Of Our Own" LP cover (the 1980's re-release cover). My dad also built me a working trolley from scratch. That's also something I need to get you a picture of. He took the electric "guts" of an HO-scale train engine and built the rest of the trolley around it. It worked on electrified HO-scale tracks!

2. What is your favorite Neighborhood song? Why?

My goodness. There are so many to choose from. Fred was such a talented musician and songwriter so they're all so very good. My taste in music is extremely varied. But I always tend to gravitate to very pretty and melodic music, so I really like "You're Growing," "There Are Many Ways To Say I Love You," and "Did You Know." But I'd say my favorite would be "You Are Special," because when my 4-year-old son asks me to sing him a song at bedtime, that's the one I sing to him. We try to watch the program together a few times a week. We get a lot of episodes through our Roku box, which is set up with my Amazon Prime membership.

3. Person or puppet, who is your favorite Neighborhood character and why?

Daniel Tiger. He's shy, cute, innocent, and so unsure of himself. And I think Daniel is probably the most important character on the program because I think a lot of young children can relate to him. That was one of the many brilliant things about Fred as his usage of the puppets on the program. Fred himself said that each of the main puppets' personalities reflect different parts of his own. Consequently, I'm sure many young viewers -- albeit maybe not consciously -- were able to relate to certain aspects of their personalities in the characters as well.

4. What is your favorite Neighborhood moment from any episodes you recall?

I can answer that. It was during the Friday episode of the "Superheroes" week. At the very end of the program, after singing "It's Such A Good Feeling," Fred said something to the effect of "...come along with me out here, I'd like to show you something..." That's when he walked off the set, the camera followed, and he stood directly next to the model neighborhood and pointed out a couple of the buildings. He explained how it was the model that they used at the beginning and ending of each of the television visits. I remember it distinctly. I think I crapped my pants.

5. What is one main lesson you have learned from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood?

One of Fred's favorite sayings was "deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex." I think that sentence summarizes each and every episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. The sentence itself is also a lesson. And I think it's a wonderful lesson at that.


Would you like to be featured in a Neighbor Profile? Drop me a line with your answers to these same questions and a photo of yourself.

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