THE ROGERS BOYS SAVE MY LIFE
Did I ever stop to thank you guys?
I know you’re all still hanging around, in film and video and literature and memory, but out of the four of you, I only got to express my gratitude to one.
Let me back up.
I’m thinking about the four Rogers Boys in my life: Will Rogers, Roy Rogers, Buck Rogers and Fred Rogers.
Will and Roy and Buck chaperoned me through my childhood in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Fred stuck with me after that, and to this day still nurtures me.
Will Rogers was funny, wise, commonsensical, more like a kindly uncle who saw through pretense and ego and managed to make me laugh at the scary and puzzling and daunting things that life dishes out. He found a way to see something useful and good in just about everybody he met, be they despot or beggar, politico or felon. At my best, I try to keep my head and think about what Will Rogers would have said about my predicaments.
Roy Rogers taught me his code of ethics. Through his movies, comic books, broadcast appearances and personal life, he set standards of behavior. His public persona was upright, he played fair even when others didn’t, he was open and giving of time to anyone who needed a helping hand. His private life was exemplary: his adopted family was diverse—way ahead of his times. Whenever I was in trouble, I’d think about how Roy would have acted.
Buck Rogers fueled my imagination and helped me see beyond the corporeal and gravitational strictures of being alive. He taught me to accept my wildest dreams as part of my reality. He introduced me to a futurist whose head remains in the clouds and whose feet stay firmly planted on the ground—Ray Bradbury. Buck Rogers taught me to let my mind run free, with the simultaneous realization that reality is always there to keep me stable and productive for family and society.
Finally, Fred Rogers walked with me for decades, and still does, reminding me to see the useful and good things about people and the world, all the while noting that things are never perfect. He was my friend no matter what mistakes I made. He was forgiving and instructive at the same time. Latch-key children throughout the world depended on him every afternoon, since he was the only adult in their lives who looked directly at them and talked gently with them, who gave them 30 minutes a day uninterrupted and non-threatening. I discovered him as an adult and recognized the latch-key kid within myself. I wrote to him and he replied, fortifying my observation that it’s ok to be strong and kind at the same moment.
Well, that’s what I think about the Rogers Boys. Go ahead—google them, study them, see what they have to say. Better still, adopt your own set of chaperones, people in your life who are so good and nurturing that you tend to take them for granted and forget to thank them till now.
I’ve been given much good advice in my life, most of which I resisted or ignored. But, luckily, the people I select to guide me in the long run, such as the Rogers Boys, are always there, waiting for me to grow up and finally listen
(c) 2010 A.D. by Jim Reed