Making Friends with Mister Rogers’ Mother

Whether you’re in search of Civil War paraphernalia, framed locks of hair or Super 8 Kodachrome movies, our family archive is one nifty collection to browse. Some of my favorite items, though, are the vacation scrapbooks that my mother made to help me remember the places I visited when I was a little girl.

When I came across some of them during another major household overhaul the other day, I stopped what I was doing, sat down on the floor and spent some time looking at them. One documenting my first visit to Nantucket in July 1975 was particularly entertaining.

The scrapbook begins with how I spent the early part of my summer practicing my swimming, playing in my dollhouse, reading a biography of Louisa May Alcott for the Bexley Public Library’s summer reading program, and watching my dad build the gazebo in our petite German Village yard.

Then, it describes the places we visited on our summer vacation. They included the Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York; Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut; Mystic Seaport, Connecticut; Newport, Rhode Island; and Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord, Massachusetts. The final destination on our itinerary was Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Our traveling companion was Annie, my black-ponytailed Joan Walsh Anglund doll who added mischief and fun to all my adventures that summer. Hailing from Williamsburg, Virginia, the well-traveled Annie got her start lurking around corners in the Historic Area and then progressed to causing trouble at other places. She’s still around today, keeping the Thanksgiving decorations company because she’s dressed in her handmade Native American costume that she wore for Halloween one year.

Traveling on the Woods Hole ferry to Nantucket, Annie and I sat next to a nice lady who invited me to talk to her as she knit a cardigan sweater for her son. While we discussed my favorite books and television programs, I was amazed to learn that my new friend was Mister Rogers’ mother. For a five-year-old who was devoted to watching “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” that was big.

My parents spotted the Brant Point lighthouse and our hotel, the White Elephant, from the ferry’s deck, and told me we were almost there. Together with Mister Rogers’ mother, we descended to the ferry’s hold to find our cars. Along the way, she recommended Nantucket sights to see, including giving us directions to some of the houses where Mister Rogers’ neighborhood friends lived.

During the next few days, I learned to play Parcheesi at the White Elephant, played in the waves while singing “Dixie,” and collected shells. I also tried a club sandwich and South Seas sherbet at the Jared Coffin House’s restaurant.

When I’ve been on other vacations, I’ve made the acquaintance of more well-known celebrities, like shopping with  Barbara Nicklaus at the Laura Ashley boutique at St. Andrews, Scotland and directing Robert Wagner and Jill St. John to the washrooms at Fortnum & Mason in London. But meeting Mister Rogers’ mother was best of all!

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One Response to Making Friends with Mister Rogers’ Mother

  1. Cecilia says:

    This is my most favorite post yet!

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