"In Latrobe, helping people is reflexive. I don’t know if it started with Fred Rogers, but it’s his message that today still inspires so many."

Latrobe, PA, is a small town with a big legacy. Fred Rogers—television’s Mister Rogers—was born here and has left an indelible influence on the individual people and the community as a whole. Rodell, a long-time Latrobe resident, chronicles this impact with delightful stories and insights about the birthplace of the ultimate ambassador for kindness, civility, and goodwill among all people. Rodell effectively showcases Rogers’ message one chapter and one story at a time through encounters with Latrobe residents, landmarks, and even crises like the opioid epidemic. Rodell also offers interesting views on Rogers’ place beside spiritual leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as views on comparisons to Jesus. These chapters all combine to emphasize Rogers as an abiding force for good in the world, which starts by being that force for good in our neighborhoods and communities. Rodell’s pride is evident as he writes convincingly of the importance and endurance of Rogers’ lessons.

This memoir of place crisscrosses jubilantly through the streets of Latrobe, which are rich with conversations about past encounters with the television icon. With humor and wisdom, Rodell offers up simple but deep reminders that kindness is a cure for the ills of society, and his optimism is infectious. He serves up Latrobe as an imperfect model and inspiration for all communities that seek to make lives better for their citizens and neighbors. The author’s description of his small town comes to life through his engaging and affable voice. It feels as though you are sitting with him eating sandwiches outside DiSalvo’s Station, talking about the town and the current of kindness that flows through it, perhaps sparked in part by their native son, Mister Rogers. Rodell’s firsthand experience creates a pleasing tribute both to a town and its most famous resident.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home