Whether you grew up watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood or only know him from pop culture, Fred Rogers was an icon for children's educational television. He was the soft-spoken, mild-mannered host of a TV show that ran for 31 seasons, where Mr. Rogers sang "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood" and "It's you I like." What you may not know about him is that he was a streaker.
In case you wanted to email Mr. Rogers back in the 1990s, and up until his death in 2003, you could find him at the email address of email@example.com. At first this looks like a random wifi password, but the significance of that email address chosen by Mr. Rogers had everything to do with his streaks.
The "zzz" represented sleeping. Mr. Rogers was focused on consistently getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Even with the demands of creating a children's show where he was the main actor, writer, musician and puppeteer, he still prioritized getting a good night's rest. And he did this every night.
The number "143" represented Mr. Rogers' weight. He maintained his weight at 143 pounds every day of his adult life because of two streaks. First, Fred Rogers had a streak to weigh himself every morning, and second, he swam every day to stay in shape. He was an avid swimmer since his childhood, and as an adult made it a daily practice usually at the Pittsburgh Athletic Association. Mr. Rogers was even a streaker in more than one way. According to longtime friend and locker room attendant Jeff Varion, sometimes in the early hours before anyone else had gotten to the pool, Mr. Rogers would choose to swim naked wearing only goggles and a bathing cap.
As a side note, the number 143 had additional meaning to Mr. Rogers which illustrates the type of person he was. Fred Rogers pointed out that 143 expressed the number of letters required to spell each word in "I love you."
Mr. Rogers used his streaks to build a community. In fact, he had a whole neighborhood where he shared some of his daily practices like changing his shoes and putting on a sweater. He also brought the audience beyond the make-believe neighborhood to show some of his personal practices. In one episode, to teach about self-discipline, Mr. Rogers went to the pool where he regularly swam and showed the audience his swimming routine.
Who knew that such an iconic figure was so dedicated to streaking principles? As we approach his birthday on March 20, what streaks are you inspired to start? Write them down, keep track of them and share them with friends and family and even share them with me on the new Streaking App @tylerjensen. In other words, please won't you be my neighbor?