It's the song Mr. (Fred) Rogers sang to my rapt children, who believed he spoke directly to them. "I like you just the way you are," he told them reassuringly.
Our neighborhood then was the Old West End, an oasis of grand Victorian and turn-of-the-20th-century homes near downtown, all splendid, all different styles. An architectural feast, near the elegant Toledo Museum of Art. It was a community becoming in the 1960s and '70s: neglected homes restored, young people and families moving in to fix them up, an historic neighborhood reborn. All of us who ever lived there have a special place in our hearts for the Old West End.
Many years have passed since our Old West End days, many changes, many experiences and life lessons, lots of moving on, to new places, new jobs, new families, new horizons.
Our neighborhood today is Sylvania, Ohio, a suburban town north of Toledo, and it's my grandchildren's turn to revel in an intimate, familiar sense of place. It's that feeling that hugs us like a warm blanket; that means safety and security. It's a feeling we carry into adulthood and elderhood, no matter where we end up. A comfort zone.
The weather's been nice as we head into fall and I've taken lots of photos. I turn from the bad, horrible news of the day and take a walk. A breath of fresh air. It's peaceful. The old and the new blend, the homes and the shops, the residential and the commerical. My great-grandson Philip's school is nearby, and the library, a hospital, several churches, lots of shops, the town hall and the police station. The neighborhood has it share of parades, house tours, art exhibits, the Tuesday Farmers' Market, historic sites and public events. Always something going on.
Mr. Rogers would like this neighborhood, I think to myself, as I stuff books and DVDs from the library into my book bag and head toward Chandler's to meet a friend for coffee. My daughter waves to me from the Sylvania Advantage Office. "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood."