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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
Replying to @Breznican
A lot of people are sharing this quote after the heartbreak in Manchester. It's also the 50th anniversary of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. 1/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Fred Rogers was from Pittsburgh, my hometown, and my generation grew up loving this man, who taught us to be kind above all. 2/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Fred Rogers was the real thing. That gentle soul? It was no act. 3/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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As I got older, I lost touch with the show, which kept running through 2001. But in college, one day, I rediscovered it... 4/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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I was having a hard time. The future seemed dark. I was struggling, lonely, dealing with a lot of broken pieces and not adjusting well. 5/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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I went to Pitt and devoted everything I had to the school paper, hoping that would propel me into some kind of worthwhile future. 6/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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It was easy to feel hopeless. One span was especially bad. Walking out of the dorm, I heard familiar music: 🎶Won't you be my neighbor... 7/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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The TV was playing in an empty common room. Mr. Rogers as there, asking me what I do with the mad I feel. (I had lots to spare. still do) 8/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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It feels silly to say - it felt silly then - but I stood mesmerized. His show felt like a cool hand on a hot head. I left feeling better. 9/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Days later, I get in the elevator at the paper to ride down to the lobby. The doors open. Mr. Rogers is standing there. For real. 10/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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I can't believe it. I get in and he nods at me. I do back. I think he could sense a geek-out coming. But I kept it together. 11/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Almost. 12/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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The doors open, he lets me go out first. I go, but turn around. "Mr. Rogers... I don't mean to bother you. But I wanted to say thanks." 13/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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He smiles, but this has to happen to him every 10 feet. "Did you grow up as one of my neighbors?" I felt like crying. Yeah. I was. 14/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Opens his arms, lifting his satchel for a hug. "It's good to see you again neighbor." I got to hug Mr. Rogers, y'all! 15/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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I pull it together. We're walking out and I mention liking Johnny Costa (he was the piano player on the show.) We made more small talk. 16/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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As he went out the door, I said (in a kind of rambling gush) that I'd stumbled on the show again recently, when I really needed it. 17/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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So I just said, "Thanks for that." Mr. Rogers nodded. He paused. He undid his scarf. He motioned to the window, & sat down on the ledge. 18/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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This is what set Mr. Rogers apart. No one else would've done this. He goes, "Do you want to tell me what was upsetting you?" 19/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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So I sat. I told him my grandfather had just died. He was one of the few good things I had. I felt adrift. Brokenhearted. 20/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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I like to think I didn't go on and on, but pretty soon he was telling me about his grandfather & a boat the old man bought him as a kid. 21/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Mr. Rogers asked how long ago Pap had died. It was a couple months. His grandfather was obviously gone decades. 22/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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He still wished the old man was here. Wished he still had the boat. You'll never stop missing the people you love, Mr. Rogers said. 23/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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The grandfather gave Mr. Rogers the row boat as reward for something. I forget what. Grades, or graduation. Something important. 24/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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He didn't have either now, but he had that work ethic, that knowledge that the old man encouraged with his gift. 25/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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"Those things never go away," Mr. Rogers said. I'm sure my eyes looked like stewed tomatoes. 26/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Finally, I said thank you. And apologized if I made him late for an appointment. "Sometimes you're right where you need to be," he said. 27/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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Mr. Rogers was there for me then. So here's this story, on the 50th anniversary of his show, for anyone who needs him now. 28/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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I never saw him again. But that "helper" quote? That's authentic. That's who he was. For real. 29/
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Anthony Breznican 22 May 17
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When Mr. Rogers died in 2003, I sat at my computer with tears in my eyes. But I wasn't crying over the death of a celebrity. 30/
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