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March 12, 2024 36 mins

Hi neighbor! March 20 is the birthday of Fred Rogers, "Mister Rogers" to millions of children who once frolicked in the "Neighborhood of Make Believe" with he and his pals on PBS.

Today we welcome two-time Grammy & Emmy award winning composer and producer, Dennis Scott, who has taken a library of Mister Roger's tunes and created a tribute album with new arrangements and a who's-who of recording artists and performers.

"Thank You Mister Rogers: Music & Memories", features The Cowsills - Jaci Velasquez - Rita Wilson - Micky Dolenz - Vanessa Williams - Tom Bergeron - Jim Brickman - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. - Sandi Patty - Kellie Pickler - Lee Greenwood - Jon Secada. 

Put on your comfy sweater and join us for this feel-good episode of LOVE SOMEONE! ~ Delilah

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:04):
Hello, my friend. Is this month marching in like a
lion in your little corner of the world. What's your prediction?
Will it go out like a lamb? I think so.
Spring officially arrives on March nineteenth. Easter is on the
thirty first this year. That's a good sign. The world

sacrifices a lot in the harsh winter months, and then
life returns fresh and new in the spring. The lamb
is an important symbol of purity, goodness, sacrifice. Regardless of
the weather, the clouds unleash, the lamb will be with us.

March holds another significant date to today's podcast. March twentieth
is the birthday of Fred McFeeley Rogers. Fred mcpheeley Rogers
mister Rogers to millions of us that were once children
frolicking in the neighborhood of make Believe with he and
his pals on PBS. He was the creator, the showrunner,

the host of the preschool TV series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
It ran from nineteen sixty eight to two thousand and
one through the antics of King Friday the Thirteenth ex
The Owl, Daniel Tiger, and others, and of course through
the songs Fred Rodin performed like won't You Be My Neighbor,

It's You I Like, and you Can Never Go Down
the Drain. Young viewers found a safe and calming place
where they learned about civility, tolerance, inclusion, sharing, self worth,
and mostly unconditional love. Years later, two time Grammy and

Emmy Award winning composer and producer Dennis Scott, whose songs
have been recorded by such an artist is Ray, Charles, Allison, Krause, Sugarland,
Crystal Gale, Amy Grant, the Muppets, and many others, has
taken a library of Mister Rogers tunes and created a

tribute album with new arrangement and a who's who list
of recording artists and performers, like the theme song Won't
You Be My Neighbor performed by The Cowsills. Sometimes People
Are Good by my friend Rita Wilson, Oh How I
Love Her? Many Ways to Say I Love You is

sung by Vanessa Williams. This is My Home with Jim Brickman,
Let's be Together Today, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Junior.
It's such a good feeling. Kelly Pittler recorded that one
and half a dozen more that we will get to
hear about during our conversation. Today. I'll be welcoming Dennis Scott,

producer of Thank You, Mister Ros Music and Memories, to
the podcast after I've extended a warm welcome to one
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Love Someone. Dennis Scott, my sister who produces our podcast,
sent me notes earlier about this, and I got so
excited in my spirit because I started thinking back to
all the times in my life. I'm a little bit
older than most of the kids who grew up with

mister Rogers, but I have a son who's a police
officer now that did and I was thinking back to
all the times that after the show was over, we
would have really important conversations about what he had just watched. Oh,
really re touching conversations because I was a single mom

and we have a very different family dynamic than a
lot of people. And it was through the Mister Rogers
neighborhood that opened up a lot of those really important conversations.
And I thought, I wonder how many millions of children's
lives were touched by the words and the music and
the love, because it really boils down to love of

mister Rogers.

Speaker 2 (05:34):
Yes, And I can verify what you're saying, because in
the process of working on these albums of his music,
I got to be in touch with tons of people who,
like you say, grew up with him and whose lives
were directly affected with him. The most incredible stories from
people who were either in the hospital or things were

happening in their lives, and he took the time out
of being an on ear personality and producing his shows
and writing the music and writing the scripts and directing
the shows, he would write letters, I mean by hand.
He would write letters and take the time to address
what was going on in their lives. In some cases,

there's a story of one girl who I hate to
put it this way, but she had a disease. She
had half her brain removed. Mister Rogers got on a plane,
didn't even really know these people, got on a plane,
went to her hospital room and just sat with her
and brought his puppets and entertained her. And her life
was changed and she's better now. And I mean, you

can't make up this stuff.

Speaker 1 (06:43):
No, Nope, you can't. You can't. And the music that
just poured out of him. I met a woman years
ago who was married by mister Rogers. A lot of
people don't know he was an ordained minister, right, and
she and her husband were married by mister Rogers.

Speaker 2 (07:03):
Oh how cool.

Speaker 1 (07:04):
But she was talking about at the ceremony, the same
sweet simplicity and the same genuine love that you saw
on television. She said, that's him twenty four to seven.
Like it wasn't an act, it wasn't a script. He
truly genuinely was that kind.

Speaker 2 (07:25):
Yes, and that I hear from people all the time
as well. He he was the real deal. He walked
the walk, talk the talk. In fact, when I started
these projects, like you, I was a little beyond the
a's of age of watching him growing up. But in
the process of working on them, I learned more about him,
and I was a skeptical too. I said, oh, this

can't Nobody would do this, nobody would take the time.
And he really was the way he was, and good golly,
we're lucky to have had him.

Speaker 1 (07:55):
So what's the backstory? How Dennis did you decide one day,
you know what, I think we need a little more
mister Rogers neighborhood, and I think we need these artists
to record these eclectic, sweet, unique songs. I mean he
had unique arrangements when you think about it, and when

you listen to music as much as I do, very
unique arrangements that he created. What propelled you into this project,
I guess is what I'm asking.

Speaker 2 (08:28):
Well, I have a background in producing and writing children's music,
and I've worked with Sesame Street people like that, and
I've had experiences working with celebrities putting their takes on
other people's songs. So one day I was in the
kitchen just eating a sandwich and I had the TV
on and they were doing a rerun of mister Rogers' show,

and he was singing this charming song called It's You
I Like And I just had to stop chewing and
listen to the song and said, this is a great song.

Speaker 1 (08:59):
And wasn't there written for the little boy that was
in the wheelchair? I remember, the child that was a
regular on his show. Came more than Yeah.

Speaker 2 (09:07):
I think it was written before he was there, but
it came to be associated with him because mister Rogers
developed a relationship with him throughout the years. But as
I'm sitting watching him, it occurred to me, I wondered,
has anybody else besides mister Rogers recorded these songs, because

the problem is, you get a little pigeonhole you think, oh,
it's on a children's show, so it must be a
children's song, and it's not something that an adult would
listen to. But being a songwriter as well, I could
tell that this was a well crafted song, well thought
out both lyrically and musically, and after researching, I found

out that really nobody else had ever covered his song.
So I said, this is an idea, and I was
just compelled to do it. I just felt I had
to do this, and I'm glad I did. It changed
my life too, because at the first it was, oh,
I wonder if I can make something of the song,

and how I can change and how I can arrange
it and get different artists to put their stamp on it.
So at first it was a challenge, but in the
course of the first album and a second one, that's
when it became part of my spirit because I felt,

I am really, I'm really working with treasures. These songs
are all gems.

Speaker 1 (10:35):
They are national treasures, they are international treasures.

Speaker 2 (10:39):
Yeah, and you asked for a backstory. At first, when
I approached mister Rogers company. He had already passed, but
they were very protective of his material and they said, well,
we don't care how many Grammys you've had, you know,
this is mister Rogers' stuff. And I said, please give
me a chance. And I pursued them for a year
and finally they said, okay, if we say yes, will

you go away, which is what most people say to me,
And so they handed me the keys to the kingdom
and we got started on the song. And the first
album had bj thomas On and Amy Grant and it
was just.

Speaker 1 (11:18):

Speaker 2 (11:18):
The most special moment for me was when the album
was done and I turned it into mister Rogers' people,
including Missus Rogers, who was chairman of the board of
his company, and I got a phone call from her
and I was biting my teeth, sinking, oh my gosh,
what if she doesn't like it? And she got on

the phone said, Dennis, I just listened to the album.
I want you to know I loved it, and Fred
would have loved it. I said, that's it.

Speaker 1 (11:47):
That's it, that's all I need. So you did the
entire thing before they heard a single song.

Speaker 2 (11:54):
Yeah, yes, I guess that's a leap of faith.

Speaker 1 (11:56):
That's a huge leap of faith, because I if i'd
been his wife, I would say, Okay, I'll let you
record one half of one song and then I will
listen to it carefully and dissect it. I don't know
that I would have given you the keys to the kingdom,
but thank god they did.

Speaker 2 (12:12):
Yeah. Yeah, it turned out to be the thing I'm
most proud of of anything I've done.

Speaker 1 (12:19):
Wow, that says a lot, given how many projects you've
been involved with.

Speaker 3 (12:26):

Speaker 2 (12:26):
The thing is, most of the time people call me
and say, hey, I need an album about Wales. Can
you write me thirteen songs about Wales? And I'll say, sure,
what color. I'll have it on your desk by nine
thirty tomorrow morning. But in this case, it was something
that came out of me from watching mister Rogers. I
didn't expect it, I didn't ask for it, but it happened,

and it really has changed my life too.

Speaker 1 (12:50):
I have watched pretty much everything I can find about
mister Rogers, and I have yet to see anything except
good wittiness about this human being.

Speaker 2 (13:03):
He understood people, and he understood the human heart, and
he knew how to deal with it and his ability
just to listen to other people. I've been told by
people that they would go into his office, come out
an hour later, and whatever was on their mind, whatever
was going wrong, they were cured. And then as the

musical side of it, which also acts in a different way,
sort of like music therapy for people, because he was
able to get his message across as only he could.
And that's where the challenge was. Because mister Rogers delivered
his songs as only he could, and of course he

had the great Johnny Costa working on arrangements with him.
But the question is, how do you take a mister
Rogers song and make it into something that's more accessible
to an adult or at least more in the pop
vein that were all accustomed to listen to. And it
was a challenge, but it was also a delight to

see how well it worked out. And when the artists
would hear it, I gave them the autonomy to go
ahead and pick out a favorite mister Rogers song and
I'd narrow it down for them because he wrote over
two hundred songs, and then we'd go over it together.
And growing up with some of these artists like Marion
Luku and Billy Davis and the Costles, whose style I

was familiar with. I wanted to do honor to their
style at the same time do honor to mister Rogers.

Speaker 1 (14:34):
So that was going to be my next question, and
you just kind of let into it. The people that
are recording these songs are people that would have heard
them during the time that mister Rogers was on TV,
you know, Amy Grant and the Cowcils. Vanessa Williams. Oh
my gosh. As I'm reading the list of artists, I'm like,

I remember I was on the station in Seattle when
her song was a hit. Oh I remember I was
on the station in Reedsport when it was you know,
the Monkeys. Oh I remember when. For me, my memories
are tagged to songs that were hits based on what
station I was at, which then identifies what relationship I
was in, or what child I was raising or whatever.

And as I'm going through the list of artists, they're
all such amazingly talented musical greats.

Speaker 2 (15:25):
Yes, yes, I mean for me too. I mean I
was a big Monkeys fan, maybe a little bit bigger
Beatles fan, but.

Speaker 1 (15:34):
Well, the Beatles had more commercial success. But the Monkeys
were cuter.

Speaker 2 (15:40):
Well, hey, people say sometimes they say I look like
Davy Jones a little bit, And I said, okay, that's
a compliment. You can't see, but I'm just as short
as he was.

Speaker 1 (15:49):
He's adorable.

Speaker 2 (15:51):
But to be standing next to some of these people,
it's really hard sometimes to keep your producer hat and say, okay,
we got to record this and get over the fact
that person right there, that's Mickey Dolan's He was the Monkeys,
and I've listened to them. It was, you know, it's
a strange thing, out of body experience, a.

Speaker 3 (16:10):
Perfectly beautiful day to say and hello, go welcome. It's
a perfectly beautiful and high neighbor. The Monkeys. Our demographic
was older ten to twelve, fourteen year old. Mister Rogers,
of course played four six eight years old, and I

watched the show with my child Amy, and he made
little kids feel safe and happy and warm and fuzzy
and cozy, like a you know, like a Teddy Bear
or something like that. The name of the song is
perfectly beautiful day, and very typical of him and his

personality and his show. He just made you feel really
comfortable of you close.

Speaker 4 (17:04):

Speaker 1 (17:09):
When I do these podcasts and I get to, you know,
look in the eyes of people that I have admired
for years. It is an out of body experience, and
sometimes I'm like, what do I say? I'm you know,
I'm tat tat. I got to do a podcast a
few weeks ago with Gloria Gaynor, and oh my gosh,
you know her song was the anthem of my life

when I was a young person, and you must have
had a lot of those just out of body experiences
with the list of these people. I'm Sandy Patty, Yeah,
I love Sandy Patty. Lee Greenwood, Oh my gosh, I
feel like putting my hand over my heart and standing
up when I hear Lee Greenwood's name mentioned.

Speaker 4 (17:52):
When the day turns into night, neighbor and you're weavy,
my said mister Rogers. Neighborhood carved out a piece of
American culture that was extremely important, not just in the
sixties or seventies, but even today. I mean, we need

to reflect on those things. It took you to a
place that was soft, it was gentle, and it wasn't
just for the kids. Because I kind of like watching it.
All of the songs that we're singing recapture part of

the generation that I lived through. When I'm singing on
the album, it's memory, like.

Speaker 1 (18:38):
Oh yeah, I remember this.

Speaker 4 (18:39):
You know too, No, my dear, thank you, mister Rogers.

Speaker 2 (18:50):
We love to be in your neighborhood, you know. And
the great thing is when when the people who you admire,
who you live with were part of the soundtrack of
your lives, when you're actually with them and they turn
out to be just regular nice people who live, breathe
and eat and everything else. I mean, that's so gratifying.

Just when they put you at ease already and say, hey,
let's make some music together. That's when it gets special.

Speaker 1 (19:19):
So what was one of your favorite moments of putting
together the mister Rogers projects? What was one of your
like that you will cherish in your heart forever?

Speaker 2 (19:29):
Oh my gosh, where do I start? Good golly, it's
like picking your children, you know what. I think, As
strange as it may sound, I loved working with the
Castles because they were just so down to earth and
they were genuinely interested in getting mister Rogers' song, and

they were so thrilled when I told them, Okay, you're
going to be singing the theme song, and they said,
we get to sing that, oh, And they were so
genuinely excited. And when you see things coming together, when
people don't always know that, you just don't snap your
fingers and all of a sudden you're in the recording studio.
It took months and months and months to coordinate schedules

and get past contracts and managers and things like that.
So when it finally happened, I walked in and there
they were, and we just hugged each other. We're just
also happy to be there. Susan Cassel, she had some
really interesting experiences watching mister Rogers because they had some

people may know that they had a kind of a
turbulent life growing up in their household, and mister Rogers
was a safe place for them. And they say, he
put on that sweater and all of a sudden they
felt good.

Speaker 1 (20:49):
That is the quintessential moment of peace, when he puts
on the sweater.

Speaker 5 (20:57):
That's right.

Speaker 1 (20:58):
So what are you hoping that this collection of music
will do for us? I mean, you didn't go through
all those hoops and jump through all those hoops and
all those contracts and all that just for somebody to
be able to listen to music. What is your hope, Dennis,
that this will do? And I don't want to put

words in your mouth, but I know what my hope
for it is. So tell me what you're hoping to
birth here.

Speaker 2 (21:25):
Well, it's a great question because I never dreamed that
I would be an advocate of mister Rogers's music. I
knew I could record it, and I know we could
do some wonderful things with his music because it started
out as being wonderful. But now I'm kind of on
a campaign to make sure that his legend and his

music does not get lost. I feel that some of
the new productions that are coming out they're forgetting his music,
they're not incorporating it into the show. And it's like
we said, it's a treasure trove of wonderful things and
the messages that are built into the music. So I'm

on a campaign to get mister Rogers inducted into the
Songwriters Hall of Fame. And I truly believe that, along
with the Gershwins and the coll Porters and people like that,
he is so much a part of our lives and
the music is worthy of that. And you would think Oh,
that's a no brainer. You know, of course we'll put

him in there. Well, no, it's not. It just doesn't
happen quite.

Speaker 1 (22:36):
That way, Dennis. What can people do if they want
to help motivate the powers that be to induct Fred
Rogers into the Music Writers Hall of Fame? Like, what

can I do? What can I personally do?

Speaker 2 (23:01):
Yeah, So if they go to change dot org, you
can sign the petition and by getting mister Rogers into
the Songwriters Hall of Fame, we'll kind of solidify his
position in the history of American music and the Great
American Songbook.

Speaker 1 (23:17):
Change dot org and then sign the petition.

Speaker 2 (23:21):
So I kind of feel that I want people to
listen to his music, and I think by creating these
arrangements of it, it gives it another chance because a
lot of his shows are not being rerun on TV anymore.
So even though the movies that came out they're really helpful.
But you know, music is powerful.

Speaker 1 (23:44):
It is so powerful, and I think his lyrics they
heal our soul. I mean, if everybody around the world
could sing won't you be my neighbor once or twice
a day and believe it? Think of the problems that
we would solve in the world if we had that

notion of I want you to be my neighbor. I
want to get to know you. I wanna I want
to break bread with you. I want to share your experiences.
I want to hear what makes you happy.

Speaker 2 (24:18):
Yeah. So mister Rogers was quoted as saying when people
ask him, well, what is the secret to a successful
life and a good life, and he said, be kind,
be kind, be kind, And that was the rallying cry
of his messages and talking about how the music gets

involved in our lives. When I heard Vanessa Williams do
her rendition of a song called there Are Many Ways
to Say I Love You, which is also this jewel
among his collection of songs. I find myself now when
I you know, when I make a sandwich for my
wife and she's not expecting it, that's that's a way

to say I love you. There, and mister Rogers hit
it right on the head. Doesn't always have to be
you know, getting down on one knee. It's like, you know, here,
here's a flower.

Speaker 1 (25:12):
Here's a sandwich.

Speaker 2 (25:13):
Yeah, we're a sandwich.

Speaker 5 (25:15):
There are many ways to say I love you, my neighbor,
just by being there when things are sadden scary. I'm
Vanessa Williams. I'm a singer, I'm an actress, I'm a
mother of four, and I'm a huge Fred Rogers fan.
He made you feel as a child that you were

in a place of just pure gentleness. That's how to say.

Speaker 1 (25:46):
I love you.

Speaker 5 (25:48):
The song that I'm doing for the Mister Rogers project
is the Many Ways to Say I Love You, which
is perfection. As a child, you appreciate the music, but
as a musician, you really appreciate the music. If Fred
were here, I would give him a big hug and
tell him that he's always in my heart.

Speaker 1 (26:18):
My husband and I have a very unique marriage, and
that we don't live together. He lives in another state
because his life was established there and my life was
established here, and the time has not come yet when
we have accomplished what God has called us to do
in both places. But we talk umpteen times a day,
and then he comes up one week out of the

month usually, and we have this little thing between us
where he'll look at me and you'll say, I told
you today how much I love you, And then mentally
I reel off all the times he made me a
sandwich or brought me a cup of tea, or because
his love language is acts of service, and then he'll
do the same to me. And I think that song

in particular really helps us to realize that you don't
need a fancy card or a dozen roses. You need
to recognize when the people you love are showing you
their heart, are showing you their compassion, their kindness.

Speaker 2 (27:18):
Yeah. Yeah, his music is now not just something that
I did, It's something that I live now because of
these messages that just permeated and are now in my brain.

Speaker 1 (27:34):
So if we can have everybody in my listening audience
fine and listen to although I got to say, I've
got the most awesome, amazing listeners in the universe. So
maybe we could, I don't know, get it into schools
so that young people could hear these messages. Absolutely, I mean,

if we could have won't you be my neighbor? Or
let's be together? It's such a good feeling. If we
could have these played in the hallways of grade schools,
what do you think?

Speaker 2 (28:08):
Yeah, And I think if people listen to them, I mean,
some of them will say if you tell them, well,
who wrote that song? They would have no idea, But
once you make the connection that it's mister Rogers, it's
not only a great sounding song, but it's a meaningful song.
So you're killing two birds with one stone.

Speaker 1 (28:28):
It makes that heart connection.

Speaker 4 (28:30):

Speaker 1 (28:31):
I am so thrilled that Dennis decided to create this
wonderful musical tribute to mister Rogers. There's so many people
involved that it's worthy of a long conversation. We'll get
right back to it once I've shared some information about
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I know that's a big question.

Speaker 2 (30:26):
I think mister Rogers has probably a better answer for that.
You know. It's like you say about music, because the
world has a lot of things going on and we wonder,
you know, what can we do and is it always
going to be like this? And mister Rogers one of
his famous quotes when nine to eleven came out, people

he said, look for the helpers, look for the helpers,
for the helpers. And he was a helper and his
music is a helper. So you know, I just encourage
people Look, if you don't know mister Rogers, take a
listen to some of these songs. Even if you don't
stream them, you don't buy them. You know, that's okay.

I've got a second job, or I'll get a second job,
but I do. I just want people to listen to
and I love seeing what they have to say about
it afterwards, and having spoken to so many people. The
reason this album is called thank You, mister Rogers is because, well,
here's another backstory there. It wasn't even going to be

a music album. I mean, I did a first album
which was totally music, and then this one, which I
had no financial backing for. I couldn't get a record
label behind it. I couldn't get anybody to invest in it.
And in fact, all right, you're the only person I've
ever told this to online. But the new mister Rogers

regime there, of which he is not a part of anymore,
they called me up one day and say, and Dennis,
we know about you, You've had done great things. We
would rather you not be doing this album and don't
call us. And that was a dark day, and I

wrestled with it and I cried a little bit, and
I said you know what, I just have to do this.
I'm going to do this and so, you know, little
help for my son's five point twenty nine fund. I
made the album and I just want people to hear it,

because I don't think without putting it out there, people
will know about mister Rogers music. Now, there were times
in the creation of this album, I said, really, I mean,
there was one time I think I was supposed to
go out to do a record the people in California,

and there was a huge storm, a thunderstorm in Nashville,
and they kept delaying the flight again and again. And
the next morning is when we had our recording session.
Now I want to say it was with Marilyn McCoo
and Billy Davis. And at four am the flight left
Nashville because there was finally a clearing and I got there.

I was half asleep, but we went into the studio
and we did it.

Speaker 1 (33:26):
Oh, thank you, thank you for doing did us this
tribute to mister Rogers. Thank you for not giving up,
for not listening to the naysayers, and thank you for
being with us on Love Someone. Now, we just got
to get the word out so that people can be
blessed and touched and inspired by the beautiful music mister

Rogers created and the new life that you've breathed into
it with these wonderful artists.

Speaker 2 (33:53):
Well, thank you and bless you for bringing it to
everybody's attention, and mostly to the ears, because I think
they're going to it's going to put a smile on
their face when they hear it.

Speaker 1 (34:02):
Indeed, mister rogers Neighborhood emphasized young children's social and emotional needs.
That was different than any other children's programming, which focused
more on learning, school readiness ABC's one, two threes, Colors
and Shapes. Mister Rogers embraced sensitive subjects like the fear

of being flushed away, both figuratively and literally, bullying. He
tackled divorce, He tackled moving, changing family dynamics, and all
of it in an unhurried, deliberate, caring, sincere style that
would be emulated countless times as children's programming took off.

He had a song for everything, and even I, who
am just a teeny bit older than kids, weaned on
the neighborhood of make believe know them through our babysitting experiences.
When we became parents, ourselves Dinnis and his musical friends
have helped to bring them to life again with Thank
You mister Rogers Music and Memories. It's now available at

Thank youmister Rogers dot com. You can learn more about
Dennis at Dennis Scottproductions dot com. Dennis has served as
both musical director and the composer of over one hundred
songs for the BBC children's series Nobody and most recently
Bjay's Teddy Bear Club. He offers award winning musical and

creative services from his Nashville, Tennessee studios. His talented team
specializes in audio production, music composition, original lyrics, arranging, talent contracting,
music supervision, sound design, scripting, and continuity. Thank You, mister
Rogers Music and Memories is the album you didn't know

you needed, but you do, we all do. It's the
rebirth of something simple, something sweet, something profound that we've
lost the lamb against the Lions. Happy Easter, happy Spring,
happy happy everything, Happy birthday, mister Rogers. I hope you

are experiencing some sunny days, some happy times, some moments
of hope and joy. Thank you for spending time with me.
Now go out there and love someone
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