Unheralded

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Texans Spar Over Transgender Bathrooms

FORT WORTH, Texas — On Tuesday, the first scorching day of a Texas spring, hundreds stood in line in the late afternoon sun, waiting to enter the meeting hall of the Fort Worth School Board. The impassioned throng was the largest in more than three decades of school board meetings here, officials said. The issue: school district guidelines intended to …


Unheralded

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — To Ban Or Not To Ban

FORT WORTH, Texas — In the decade since he opened a Fort Worth- area coffeehouse, David Clarke never really cared whether a customer packed a pistol beneath his jacket. Carrying a concealed weapon has been legal in this state since 1996, but Clarke’s shop and thousands of other restaurants, grocery stores, churches and movie theaters were free to engage in a …


TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Few Kind Words, Long Forgotten?

Rod Johnson was another hockey player, but a couple of years behind me in school and not a guy I ever knew well. That’s why I was kind of dumbstruck by his recent message on Facebook, sent from China, where he now works. He said it concerned something I said to him after a hockey game when he was sixth grade …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Remembering Slocum, Texas, Massacre

I’m not proud to say that before I began to research my book on the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, I knew woefully little about true black history. My 2001 book was called “The Burning,” and that’s what it was in Tulsa, mobs of whites burning down a prosperous black community, killing 300 in an act of genocide. But Tulsa …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Christmas Story For Guys

FROM 1996: One afternoon about a week before Christmas, my family of four piled into our minivan to run a short errand, and this question came from a small voice in the back seat: “Dad,” began my 5-year-old son, Patrick, “how come I’ve never seen you cry?” Just like that. No preamble. No warning. One minute it’s, “Mom, what’s for …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Twenty Years With Fred Rogers

It recently dawned on me that it was 20 years ago, about this time of year, when the phone rang at my desk at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and I heard that voice at the other end of the line. “Hello. This is Fred Rogers, calling from Pittsburgh.” And so it was. We talked that day about violence on television and …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Season To Remember. Why I Loved Coaching

One of my favorite endeavors/jobs/passions was coaching youth ice hockey. I grew up with the sport in Minnesota, so I guess it’s in my DNA. I loved competing. But most of all I loved my players, who ranged in age over the years from post-toddlers to high school kids. The last few days, I’ve been remembering one team in particular, …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Another Mr. Rogers Moment

My first experience with Jennifer Roberts’ students was three years ago, a day I will never forget, and one that has become a big part of the talks I give about my friendship with Fred Rogers. (The young man I refer to as Mr. Attitude was in that class.) Those kids, part of a class for students who need an …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — An Amazing Night Of Music With Luke And Kyle

Last Friday night, my wife and I were treated to amazing music made even more special because the artists were friends. A year after he charmed America on “The Voice,” Luke Wade put on an electric performance before a huge outdoor crowd at Levitt Pavilion in Arlington, Texas. For his encore of “Stand By Me,” he did something so typically …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Gift From My Son

On a cloudless Colorado afternoon a few weeks ago, I stood about 30 yards from the summit of Mount Baldy and watched as my son scrambled the final distance to the top. It had been a grueling four-hour hike to get there, and Patrick raised his arms in celebration and relief. I huffed and puffed to join him a few minutes later. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The Pain Of War Doesn’t End For Some

I sat in the suburban Dallas living room of Earl Crumby as the old soldier quietly wept. His wife had died a few years before, but Crumby said his tears that day weren’t for her. “As dearly as I loved that woman, her death didn’t affect me near as much as it does to sit down here and talk to …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Suffering And Optimism

The latest episode in my travels with Mister Rogers came recently in Fort Worth, Texas, when I told the story of our friendship to a district meeting of the Optimist’s Club. Before my talk, I read the international organization’s principles, among them —to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness and prosperity to …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Note From Mrs. Norton’s Son

The following is from Tim Norton, re: his mother and my second-grade teacher. See: My last post, “A Serendipitous Chance to Remember Mrs. Norton.” Deeply touched, Tim, and hug your mom for me. “Tim, Your kind words were shared by me here at Creighton University as a tribute to all teachers (professors, TA, Adjunct, etc.) in the classroom and otherwise. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — A Serendipitious Chance To Remember Mrs. Norton

In 1965, my parents decided to move my younger brother and me from public to Catholic school in our little town in Minnesota. That meant I was the new kid in second grade, which probably explains, at least in part, why Mrs. Norton has such a special place in my heart. My teacher that year was tall and thin, somewhere …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Confrontation

The last battle of World War II was fought 70 years ago next month, but for tens of thousands of American servicemen — and women — the battles continued at home. Only then, the soldiers didn’t have their buddies next to them in the foxhole. This war — waged with horrible memories, nightmares and survivor’s guilt — had to be fought …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — From The Heart Of Suffering, A Grace Note From Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers and I had known each other for three years by that day in the fall of 1998 when I learned that my brother, Steve, had been diagnosed with lung cancer. My first call was to my wife, my second to the children’s television icon at his home in Pittsburgh. It was his wife, Joanne, who answered that day, and …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Finally, At The End, A Son’s Glimpse Into A Father’s Life At War

Last March, I wrote here about my friends Harley and Peggy Stahlecker, from my hometown of Crookston, Minn. Both had lost older brothers in World War II. Another brother of Harley’s, Milton Stahlecker, survived combat in the Pacific but came back a changed man. When we talked this spring, neither Peggy or Harley had yet read my new novel, “Every …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Another Sacred Moment In The Shadows Of Life

Fred Rogers was fond of saying that the most profound and meaningful moments in life rarely happen in the spotlight, that they tended to occur off stage, in quiet moments between people. In 2002, in an elaborate ceremony in the White House, President George Bush hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Fred’s neck, but Mister Rogers later told me that his favorite …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — It’s Time To Look Back, Really Look Back

Watching the images from Baltimore and remembering, and certainly not for the first time in these troubled last few years, a spring night in Tulsa, Okla., more than a decade ago, when Oklahoma State Rep. Don Ross and I shared dinner at a quiet Chinese restaurant. I was in Tulsa to research a newspaper story about the Tulsa Race Riot …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Counterattack Or Suicide Mission

It was on one of the last nights in January that their company commander, a captain named Richards, called the men together when they had gone to the rear for food. “Tomorrow is the first day of the end of the war,’’ Richards said. “At oh-two-thirty we move forward, and we’re not stopping until we get to Berlin. The Germans …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — My letter To Fred Rogers, And His Famous IPOY Reply

I met Fred Rogers, the children’s television icon, on a newspaper assignment in the fall of 1995. Several months later, I sent him this letter and received his famous reply. June 22, 1996 Dear Fred, … I have something to ask of you. The last several years have been a very profound time of intense personal pain and great healing, …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Fiction And Real Life In The Battle Of The Bulge

In my novel, “Every Common Sight, the battlefield experiences of my character, Wendell Smith, are based on the real-life horrors of World War II veterans I interviewed in the 1990s. The following is one example of how heartbreaking truth morphed into fiction. I’ll never forget the sight of Earl Crumby — a small, wiry fellow with thick black hair and glasses …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Anything

“Anything mentionable is manageable,” Fred Rogers famously said. Anything? What about this? You are a young mother, a government worker in Washington, D.C., and pretty much without warning comes a post-partum psychotic break. You end up running naked on a bridge over the Potomac and might not have survived if not for the courage and kindness of strangers. What about …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — How Michelangelo Came To Fort Worth

I’ve spent the last eight months researching an authorized history of Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum, work that has taken me to New York City, the California wine country and finally to Genoa, Italy, (tough duty, I know) to visit with legendary architect Renzo Piano and his team. It has also been my privilege to spend many hours reminiscing with …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Fred Rogers, Three Other Dudes And Coming Out Of Hiding

One of Fred Rogers’ favorite things was to make connections between people. I often have imagined his delight at the connections I have made these last several years, traveling the country with the message of our unlikely bond. Many of them have been profound but fleeting. Others have developed into friendships that will endure as long as I do. Michael Gingerich and …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Religious Fervor, An African Nightmare And Finally, Great Wisdom

Maybe there are no shortcuts to wisdom. That idea came up in my recent conversation with a young man named Jonathan Hollingsworth, who strikes me as a compelling example. He grew up in Virginia, the son of a minister and a writer, and was moved by deep spiritual yearnings from early childhood. As a teenager, he sought out the homeless and bought them …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — An Ode To An Old Friend And A Simpler Time

Denny Anderson was among the first to befriend me when I was the new kid in school in eighth grade, and he was like a brother to me through high school and college. Denny and I were roommates in the little town in western North Dakota where I took my first newspaper job. Then, as so often happens, we went our separate ways. I …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Bad Words And Evil Acts, But What Happens In The End?

I met Fred Rogers in the fall of 1995, when I profiled the host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I quickly accepted his surprising invitation to friendship. It was three years later, on one of my trips to see Fred at his home in Pittsburgh, that I found a copy of Esquire magazine on a coffee table in his …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Brothers Barely Remembered, And The Horrible Realities Of War

I’ve known Harley Stahlecker and his wife, Peggy, pretty much my whole life. Harley was a legendary teacher, coach and referee in the little town where I grew up, Crookston, Minn. Peggy was the mother of the Stahlecker boys, who in the 1970s and ’80s were teammates of the Madigan boys in hockey and baseball. It was a happy time …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — For Readers Of “Every Common Sight,” Meet The Real Francis Devos

On the title page of my first novel, “Every Common Sight,” is the standard disclaimer for fiction. “Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.” That is true, with a couple of exceptions. …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — You, The Miracle From Another Planet

Oliver Sack’s soaring essay on the end of his life (read it here) somehow reminded me of an experience I had several years ago while camping in Colorado. I had come down from my campsite in the high country to visit friends in the town of Crested Butte. They were husband and wife, both scientists, and they were a high state …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Fred Rogers And My Brother, Steve: 15 Treasured Moments From ‘I’m Proud Of You’

Since 2006, when “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers” was first published, I’ve heard from hundreds of people, many of whom who tell me something to this effect. “I know those letters and emails from Fred were written to you, but if feels like they were written to me, too.” I met Fred through a newspaper assignment …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — Meet The People I’ve Known And Loved For So Long: My Debut Novel, ‘Every Common Sight,’ Available Now

It recently occurred to me that I’ve lived with the characters of my new novel almost as long as I’ve known my children. Wendell Smith, the haunted World War II veteran; his saintly wife, Selma; their son, William; Wendell’s steadfast sidekick, Francis; Claire Cavanaugh, the beautiful young woman with a secret of her own; Claire’s devoted husband, Larry. They are …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘You Probably Think I’m Crazy,’ She Said

I don’t know her name. I considered asking on that sunny afternoon 15 years ago, but for some reason didn’t. All I know is that she had shoulder-length dark hair, was probably somewhere in her 30s, and I’ll  never forget what she did that day. I had gone to Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth to sit in the sun, eat a tuna sandwich …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — The legend of RoXygen, and a 57-year-old singer (me) in a rock ‘n’ roll band.

For a decade or so, I had puttered around with the acoustic guitar, learning the first several bars of Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band” and mumbling a few of the lyrics while I played. Same with “Fire and Rain, Dust in the Wind,” etc. Then, in December 2013, I vowed to get serious about the instrument and sing like no one …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — TV’s Fred Rogers: ‘You Have Passed The Test (For Me) Of Great Art.’

In a few weeks, I’ll publish my first novel, “Every Common Sight,” which has been more than 20 years in the making. The book went through several drafts, spanning my very long apprenticeship as a writer. As I kept improving, the novel did, too. I also had to put it aside for years at a time to focus on non-fiction book …

TIM MADIGAN: Anything Mentionable — ‘I Didn’t Feel Hate. I Felt Compassion’

I wrote thousands of stories for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram over 30 years, most of them long forgotten. I’ll never forget this one, from 2010. It speaks, I think, to who we really are as humans, and reminds me so much of Fred Rogers’ favorite saying, “The only thing that evil can’t stand is forgiveness.” I felt privileged to be a …